On Feb. 5, President Sean Decatur joined fellow college and university leaders in New York City for the annual American Talent Initiative Presidential Summit. The gathering advanced the work of the American Talent Initiative, a coalition of more than 100 colleges and universities with consistently high graduation rates that aims to educate at least 50,000 additional high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students by 2025.
“Too many talented students in America do not have the financial means to reach their complete educational potential. And if we are committed to being a college where academic excellence is the key criterion for admission, then we need to work to make Kenyon’s transformative education accessible to a wider pool of students,” Decatur said. “We are proud to be part of this initiative’s work to help students from all backgrounds thrive.”
Kenyon joined the American Talent Initiative in 2017 and has focused its efforts on growing and strengthening its established access and diversity programs to help build pipelines of talented students to Kenyon. These programs include the Kenyon Academic Partnership, a collaborative educational program between Kenyon and secondary schools in Ohio; Camp 4, an intensive academic enrichment program that offers high school students the opportunity to get acclimated to a college experience; and the selective Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program, which recruits and supports underrepresented and first-generation students. These programs have supported a graduation rate for Pell-eligible students that is regularly as high, if not higher, than the rate for all students — a notable achievement, given that nationwide, lower-income students typically have lower graduation rates than their higher-income peers.
Advancing opportunity for lower-income students also is a top priority of Our Path Forward: The Campaign for Kenyon, the College’s $300 million comprehensive campaign publicly launched in 2018. A $100 million fundraising goal for endowment for financial aid is the largest single priority of the campaign. Reaching this goal would enable the College to increase the number of low-income students on campus by 10 percent and double the proportion of the financial aid budget that is supported by endowment. As part of this goal, with the leadership of former Kenyon College Board of Trustees chair Barry F. Schwartz ’70, Kenyon launched a $20 million effort to establish the President’s Fund, aimed at giving the College the financial capacity to bring more talented underrepresented students from low-income backgrounds to Kenyon.
The American Talent Initiative is a Bloomberg Philanthropies program launched in December 2016 and led by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R. It also is supported by the Gray Foundation. For more information on the coalition, visit americantalentinitiative.org.