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American Talent Initiative’s Impact Report Cites Spelman College's Efforts to Increase Graduation Rates Share a Spelman College Press Release


Media Contact:
Joyce Davis
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Spelman College Press ReleaseATLANTA (December 17, 2018) – A new report by a nationwide alliance of leading colleges and universities highlights Spelman College’s efforts to improve opportunity for low- and moderate-income students.

Spelman, one of 108 member institutions that make up the American Talent Initiative, is demonstrating leadership in the nationwide movement by focusing on improving retention and graduation rates, according to "A 2018 Report on the Progress of the American Talent Initiative in its First Two Years."

ATI members have increased enrollment of students who receive federal Pell grants by 7,291 since the 2015-16 school year. This momentum, according to the report, indicates that ATI is on track to reach its goal to make our nation’s top colleges more accessible for 50,000 additional low- and moderate-income students by 2025.

Member institutions commit to a collective goal while also setting their own targets and strategies to improve access and success for lower-income students. Strategies ATI members have employed to improve access and success for lower-income students include focusing on reducing gaps in retention and graduation rates.

At 77 percent, Spelman students already graduate at rates that exceed the graduation rate of Black women at other liberal arts and women’s colleges. Even so, Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., said that Spelman is investing in targeted academic supports to boost graduation rates.

“Spelman has consistently educated large percentages of Pell students for a long time," said Dr. Campbell regarding the 48 percent of Spelman students who receive Pell grants, a share unmatched by any other private ATI member. "Our goal now is to make it possible for every enrolled student to graduate and to graduate with a competitive edge. We are making our goal a whole college effort that gives everyone on campus a role in developing student success and college completion strategies and the possibility of a lifetime of productive work for each graduating senior.”

Spelman’s commitment to access and opportunity is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the institution, and Dr. Campbell believes Spelman can expand on this commitment by improving graduation rates and making a Spelman degree more affordable for lower income students. As such, Spelman plans to redouble its effort to raise funds to increase scholarship support for low- and moderate-income students by 25 percent over the next five years.

A central reason that ATI sets a 70 percent graduation rate threshold for eligibility is that talented students from all backgrounds should have greater access to colleges and universities where they are likeliest to succeed. But as ATI members’ individual goals reveal, there is a recognition that even this group of high-graduation-rate institutions has room for improvement—both in the overall success rate, and in closing gaps for students from lower-income backgrounds. 

About Spelman College 
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges and No. 1 among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit


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