SUNY Oneonta is among the newest members of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of 137 four-year institutions united in a shared goal of enrolling, supporting and graduating 50,000 additional talented, lower-income students across high-graduation-rate colleges and universities by 2025.
ATI is co-managed by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. ATI’s work to increase access and success is more important than ever, especially as talented students from lower-income backgrounds and communities of color continue to face the impacts of the pandemic.
As a result, SUNY Oneonta sees membership in ATI as a critical opportunity to advance a commitment to supporting students socially, academically and financially, from before they arrive on campus to graduation and beyond.
“SUNY Oneonta is committed to increasing access to higher education for all students, and our membership in the American Talent Initiative is a recognition of the great work that has already been done on our campus to provide opportunities for lower-income students to thrive and succeed,” said university President Alberto J.F. Cardelle. “The goals of the alliance align perfectly with our mission, and I’m excited to learn from and share with other institutions as we continue this important work.”
The ATI Pledge
ATI works with colleges and universities across the country that graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years—a threshold that just 341 colleges achieve—to increase the total number of low- and moderate-income students enrolled from about 550,000 to about 600,000 by 2025.
In service of this aim, SUNY Oneonta has joined its fellow members in pledging to a public, aspirational goal to at least maintain, if not increase, lower-income student enrollment over the next several years. To realize this pledge, SUNY Oneonta will establish specific goals and strategies to recruit more students from economically diverse backgrounds, increase investments in need-based financial aid, create more equitable student experiences, and, ultimately, minimize equity-based gaps in retention and graduation rates.
SUNY Oneonta represents one of the alliance’s smallest public institutions and is one of just two institutions within the 64-campus State University of New York system to join ATI. The university has a strong track record of recruiting and supporting lower-income students. In 2021-22, 59 percent of SUNY Oneonta’s full-time undergraduate student population received need-based financial aid, and 32 percent of full-time undergraduate students received federal Pell grants. The university’s six-year graduation rate is 77 percent, well above the national average.
Student Success Programs at SUNY Oneonta
Key SUNY Oneonta programs and initiatives that help advance this track record on behalf of lower-income students include:
- The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) – SUNY Oneonta is the only institution in New York State to host CAMP, a federally funded scholarship program specifically designed to help students from migrant and seasonal farm-working families access and excel in higher education. Established in 2001, SUNY Oneonta’s CAMP program has helped hundreds of students achieve their educational goals through dedicated recruitment, application assistance, financial support, academic skill-building, emotional and social adjustment support, engagement and community development activities. In addition to the federally funded scholarship program, CAMP students receive financial support made available by gifts to the SUNY Oneonta Foundation.
- Summer Academy – Each summer, new students who have enrolled through the Educational Opportunity Program and CAMP come to SUNY Oneonta for a residential three-week Summer Academy, where they get to know the campus, meet faculty and staff, and make friends before they even start classes. Research shows these activities are essential to students’ sense of belonging and can help ensure their success through and beyond graduation.
- Financial Safety – SUNY Oneonta distributes up to $50,000 each year in grants to students facing unexpected financial obstacles that could affect their ability to stay in college and, ultimately, earn a bachelor’s degree essential to high-wage jobs. The annual support is made permanent with a $1,000,000 endowed Student Emergency Fund established through contributions to the SUNY Oneonta Foundation’s 2018-2023 Grow.Thrive.Live, Campaign.
- Scholarship Support – In partnership with the SUNY Oneonta Foundation, the university awards more than $5.1 million in renewable merit- and need-based scholarships each year. Our commitment to scholarship support extends throughout a student’s time at Oneonta, including many special scholarships dedicated to increasing access to valuable experiential learning activities. This includes more than $100,000 annually in student grants to support research and travel to professional conferences, 23 different scholarships for students who study abroad or participate in faculty-led trips and special grants to help defray expenses associated with off-campus internships.
As a member of ATI, SUNY Oneonta will work with more than 135 institutions, including fellow SUNY school Stony Brook University, to share these and other best practices to increase college access and success—and contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities across the country effectively serve students from lower-income backgrounds.
A complete list of member institutions is available at: https://americantalentinitiative.org/who-we-are/