A partnership between researchers and colleges to improve upward mobility in America.

How can colleges help students from disadvantaged backgrounds climb the income ladder?

The Collegiate Leaders in Increasing MoBility—or CLIMB—Research Initiative is a partnership between leading higher education economists, policymakers, and a diverse set of U.S. colleges and universities. Through CLIMB, we seek to understand not only which colleges act as engines of intergenerational mobility, but why, and how schools and policymakers can promote opportunity and economic growth by helping larger numbers of low-income students reach the middle class.

To achieve these objectives, CLIMB researchers, led by Raj Chetty, David Deming and John Friedman, are linking data provided by our higher education partners to data on earnings and other long-run outcomes. By harnessing the power of big data and predictive analytics, we hope to identify which colleges are engines of mobility and to understand the policies and programs that are most-responsible for the economic success of low-income students.

These efforts will produce research to support policy solutions for increasing upward mobility, helping more students achieve the American Dream. We will share this research broadly, with policymakers at the federal, state, and institutional level. Our research will also support ongoing initiatives by helping colleges achieve their goals of student access and success.


Check out our CLIMB Initiative YouTube Channel to watch full sessions from the 2017 kick-off conference!


Listen here to Dr. Friedman’s conversation with To a Degree on why some colleges are more successful at helping students achieve income mobility after graduation.


Explore some of CLIMB’s early research findings below:

CUNY’s SEEK Program Improves Outcomes for Low-Income Students


October 30, 2017
The University of Texas at Austin

The CLIMB Conference was a national event dedicated to advancing upward mobility through higher education. Inspired by recent research, it brought together senior college and university administrators, researchers, nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, and policymakers to discuss the latest research on higher education and upward mobility. It launched the CLIMB Initiative, highlighted how some colleges and universities are leading the way, and began to define a new policy agenda through the College Movement nonprofit.

Please look for footage from each session of the Conference on our "CLIMB Initiative" YouTube Channel.

Conference Details

CLIMB Initiative Partners

Our partner institutions enroll over 1 million students at four-year schools and another 2.4 million students at community colleges, representing more than 15% of the entire US undergraduate populations at degree-seeking institutions.

We are seeking additional university and college partners to help us understand upward mobility in the U.S. Contact us if you would like to learn more about joining CLIMB!

Contact Us About Partnership