Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro has joined President Barack Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Joe Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

During the summit with President Obama, Castro announced that Fresno State will commit to increasing its six-year graduation rate to at least 70 percent by 2024. The goal is to graduate thousands more students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics.

“Fresno State’s academic and athletic programs are boldly rising together. Our priority focus on student success will lead to a dramatic increase in our graduation rate. Students, families and communities throughout the Valley and beyond will benefit from the contributions of our graduates — the next generation of leaders,” Castro said.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action was organized to support the president’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The president will announce new steps on how his administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on Jan. 14, 2014.

According to the president, expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. He said that nationally only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile.

In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.