McKeldin Mall at the University of Maryland at College Park. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Thirty selective colleges and universities announced Tuesday that they are teaming up in an effort to recruit more students from lower-income families.

The group, including several Ivy League schools and public flagship universities, said it wants to mobilize a national effort to expand the number of high-achieving students with significant financial need who attend colleges that have graduation rates of at least 70 percent.

Calling their alliance the “American Talent Initiative,” or ATI, the schools declared that their goal is to enroll an additional 50,000 such students at 270 selective colleges and universities by 2025. They say that would represent a 12 percent increase on top of a current level of about 430,000 students. The initiative focuses mainly on recruiting top students who qualify for the federal Pell grant.

“If we’re serious about promoting social mobility in America, we need to ensure that every qualified high school student in the U.S. has an opportunity to attend college,” billionaire philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg, who is providing funds to support the initiative, said in a statement. “I’m so glad that so many great colleges and universities have stepped up today and committed themselves towards that goal. This is a vital first step towards creating a more meritocratic society.”

It is not clear what the recruiting goals will mean in detail for the 30 schools that are founding members of the initiative.

“Talented young people live in every neighborhood and Zip code,” said Carol Quillen, president of Davidson College, a member of the group. “It serves our national interest to offer these individuals every opportunity to develop to their fullest potential, yet many from less advantaged backgrounds do not believe that college is an option for them. By aggressively seeking out more of these talented young people and supporting them through graduation, ATI partners will immeasurably enrich our campus communities as we enable our country to compete and thrive in an increasingly complex global environment.”

Josh Wyner, vice president and executive director at the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, said the initiative aims to build on significant work to expand access at all levels of higher education, including community colleges. He said educators will gather evidence from successful examples “so that college and university presidents, faculty and staff can develop even more of the talented students our entire nation needs.”

Major public universities joining the initiative are:

  • Georgia Tech
  • Ohio State University
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • UCLA
  • University of Maryland at College Park
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Washington

Private schools joining the initiative are:

  • Amherst College
  • Bates College
  • Davidson College
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Lehigh University
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Rice University
  • Spelman College
  • Stanford University
  • University of Richmond
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Williams College
  • Yale University