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Aerial shot of St. Mary's Hall, the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Hall

University named national leader in lower-income student enrollment, model nationally

Bloomberg Philanthropies today recognized University of Dayton as an American Talent Initiative (ATI) High-Flier, a group of 28 high-graduation-rate institutions that are national leaders in college access and success for lower-income students.

The University of Dayton (UD) received the distinction for its steady gains in lower-income student enrollment since 2015-16 and innovative recruitment, enrollment, and retention practices. Over the next year, ATI and Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with High-Fliers to amplify what they have learned to other four-year colleges and universities across the nation.

An initiative led by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, ATI serves as a growing nationwide alliance of high-graduation-rate colleges and universities grounded in the belief that they can collectively expand access for tens of thousands of high-achieving, lower-income students. By doing so, these institutions are increasing socioeconomic diversity within their respective student communities.

"The economic fallout from the pandemic has made it even more important for schools across the country to adopt innovative new ways to attract and retain students from under-represented backgrounds," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. "I applaud ATI's 28 High-Fliers for leading the way in this work and increasing the diversity of their campuses. We hope their efforts serve as an example for other schools that are committed to creating opportunity for more lower-income students, so we can accelerate national progress on this critical challenge."

Since ATI's launch in 2016, University of Dayton has made significant gains in Pell Share among their 137 peers. To drive that progress, UD launched the UD Sinclair Academy (UDSA) in 2016 with nearby Sinclair Community College. Now, nearly 600 first-year or transfer community college students (as of fall 2022) have a seamless pathway to a four-year degree at UD. Through the Academy, students are enrolled at both Sinclair and the University from day one and are included in both campus communities. The Academy supports their success in many ways: with over 100 clear degree pathways so students know exactly which classes to take; academic advisors on both campuses; transparent four-year financial information upfront; and student success professionals at UD who help with any questions.

"Evidence shows that when lower-income students attend high-graduation colleges like the University of Dayton, they are more likely to graduate, and their lifetime earnings potential and opportunities increase as well," said Eric Spina, President of University of Dayton. "They also enrich the UD campus community, leading student groups such as the Asian American Association, research fellows, and volunteers working to improve the common good. As graduates, they meet critical local workforce needs and uplift our region."

Dayton's efforts to expand opportunity have been particularly evident in the two years since reaffirming its commitment to this work through ATI's Accelerating Opportunity campaign. Along with their fellow ATI members, they set public, aspirational lower-income student enrollment goals for the first time to help combat the lingering impacts of the pandemic. Two years in, University of Dayton has met its Accelerating Opportunity goal of a 15% Pell share. They also are advancing a shared commitment among all 137 ATI members to close equity-based retention and graduation gaps.

As a result of University of Dayton's leadership in ATI and the Accelerating Opportunity campaign, thousands of additional lower-income students across the United States are accessing and earning bachelor's degrees. Data shows students like Antoine Harrison '26, part of the UD Sinclair Academy, are historically more likely to have higher wages, pursue graduate degrees, become entrepreneurs, and engage in their communities.

"As part of UDSA, I became more confident in my college journey," said Harrison. "The best piece of advice I could give to an incoming student would be to take your first step and make it happen. With all of the opportunities at Sinclair and UD, you can find success in everything you do,"

For more information on ATI and Bloomberg Philanthropies' other initiatives to expand college access and success, please visit:

For more information on the UD Sinclair Academy or interviews, contact Cara Zinski-Neace, University of Dayton executive director of news and communications, at


News and Communications Staff