UCF, in alliance with six foundations and 10 other universities, will work toward helping low-income and first-generation college students earn degrees, according to a release from UCF.

Students of high-income households are seven times more likely to earn a college degree than low-income counterparts. The University Innovation Alliance is working toward shrinking that gap.

UCF President John C. Hitt as well as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dale Whittaker are in Washington D.C., participating in a kickoff event Tuesday.

A key component of the alliance is to educate the other institutions about its DirectConnect to UCF program, which allows students from Eastern Florida State College, Lake Sumter State College, Seminole State College and Valencia College admission to UCF upon achieving an associate's degree.

That program may soon be shared with other schools. According to the release, more than 24,000 students have earned bachelor's degrees after first enrolling at one of the aforementioned schools.

The alliance features institutions such as Arizona State, Georgia State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Oregon State, Purdue, Ohio State, University of California at Riverside, Kansas and the University of Texas at Austin.

The release states that UCF will try to learn from Texas and Georgia State on how to use data to identify barriers that may prevent students from succeeding in a collegiate setting.

"Through this unprecedented collaboration, we will help more students across the country earn high-quality, four-year degrees and experience the life-changing opportunities that accompany those degrees," Hitt said in a release. "My UCF colleagues and I are eager to learn from our partners and share our best ideas and innovations."

The six foundations, which include the Ford Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have donated $5.7 million to support the alliance.

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