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Hopkins launches civic engagement program with $150M grant

The Johns Hopkins University is joining 29 other colleges and universities to expand by at least 50,000 the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at the U.S. undergraduate institutions with the highest graduation rates. The new American Talent Initiative, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, brings together a diverse set of public and private institutions. Each commits to enhance its efforts to recruit, support and graduate lower-income students; to learn from each other; and to contribute to research that will help other colleges and universities expand opportunity. “Our nation, our economy, and all our citizens benefit from nurturing talented young people from the broadest pool possible, including every community and socioeconomic background,” said Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins. “The university looks forward to working with our ATI partners to build on innovative initiatives like our Baltimore Scholars Program to ensure students have an opportunity to attend university and realize their full potential.” The 30 founding members expect more of the 270 U.S. institutions with graduation rates of 70 percent or higher to join ATI over the next few years. The overall goal is to enroll 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at those 270 colleges and universities by 2025, and to help them graduate. (File photo)

The Johns Hopkins University.
(File photo)

An international charity has given Johns Hopkins University $150 million to help start an interdisciplinary civic engagement program aimed at easing political polarization and improving discourse around a range of issues.

The Athens-based Stavros Niarchos Foundation provided the gift to help form the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

The institute will bring together experts and students in the fields of such as political science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, sociology, and history. It will hold events every year in Baltimore and Athens.

“In the U.S. and around the world, the rise in division, distrust and alienation presents a daunting and urgent challenge,” said Ron Daniels, Johns Hopkins president. “Today, cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines – coupled with a commitment to strengthen civic dialogue – can give us new insight into these trends and new opportunities for productive policymaking and problem-solving.”

The program will have 10 full-time faculty joined by 10 visiting faculty. It will also sponsor annual series focusing on specific topics. Early topics are likely to include climate change and trade-related job displacement.

“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is committed to exploring issues that improve the functioning of civil societies today, and the connection to the Greek agora makes this particularly profound for us, since the agora was the heart of civic life, a common space for people to coexist as citizens rather than individuals” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

The foundation will be housed in a new building on the university’s Homewood campus.

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