Drake University President David Maxwell and Iowa State University President Steven Leath were scheduled to be in attendance at a White House summit today as their universities announce initiatives to help low-income students gain better access to higher education.

Drake announced today that the college will be partners with Principal Financial Group Inc., the Des Moines Independent Community School District and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines to implement a pilot program called the STEM Pathway Initiative.

The initiative is intended to provide low-income Des Moines high school students a pipeline to higher education and employment in high-demand positions.

In the first year, the program will pair as many as 20 high school students with Drake student mentors and professional mentors at Principal to explore opportunities in actuarial science, accounting, information technology, finance and insurance. Upon completion of high school, qualified students will be admitted to Drake with necessary financial support, and they will be eligible for paid internships at Principal, the university said.

Iowa State has committed to raising an additional $85 million over the next three years for financial aid en route to accomplishing a five-year fundraising goal of $150 million established by Leath in 2012. A "significant portion" of that funding will go to low-income students, according to a White House document. The university will also launch STEM pilot programs in five school districts that serve a high percentage of low-income students, the document said.

Iowa State last year formed a partnership with Moulton Extended Learning Center and King Elementary School to help students qualify for full-tuition scholarships at Iowa State.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason was at the White House in November with five other university presidents to discuss strategies for attracting low-income students.

More than 100 college and university presidents will be in attendance at the White House summit, according to The Washington Post. 

Want to learn more about STEM efforts in Iowa?

Click here, to read takeaways from a recent Business Record Power Roundtable that explored STEM education with five members of Gov. Branstad's STEM Advisory Council.