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Monday, May 17, 2021

Cities compete to increase college degree earners, win $1 million

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CHICAGO – More than 50 U.S. cities officially entered the competition to increase the number of residents with a college degree and win $1 million.

The Talent Dividend Prize will be awarded by CEOs for Cities to the metropolitan area that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of postsecondary degrees granted per capita over a three-year period.

CEOs for Cities President and CEO Lee Fisher was joined by representatives of sponsor organizations The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation, and officials from dozens of competing cities to kick-off the competition at Roosevelt University in Chicago. The competition is designed as an effort to increase college attainment in our nation’s cities by one percentage point, which CEOs for Cities calculates would be worth $124 billion a year in increased national earnings. The winner will be announced in September 2014.

The Talent Dividend Prize competition comes on the heels of the Department of Education’s successful “Race to the Top” initiative that encouraged states to improve outcomes among K-12 students. In addition to boosting educational attainment, the Talent Dividend competition aims to boost economic gains at both the local and national level.

Research from Chicago-based CEOs for Cities, a non-profit network of urban leaders advancing the next generation of great American cities, indicates that 58 percent of a city’s success, as measured by per capita income, can be attributed to the percentage of the adult population with a college degree.

“There are huge financial gains that can be achieved through small improvements in educational attainment in our cities,” said Fisher. “This competition is part of our ongoing effort to generate awareness, and ultimately action, among urban leaders of the potential economic returns that can be achieved by increasing the rate of college degrees by just one percentage point. Simply put-the more educated a city’s population, the more robust its economy will be.”

CEOs for Cities’ research shows that increasing the four-year college attainment rate in each of the 51 largest metropolitan areas by one percentage point, from its current median of 29.4 percent to 30.4 percent, would be associated with an increase in aggregate personal income of $124 billion per year for the nation. This improvement in income would be the result of increased productivity: better-educated workers are more productive, and having access to a better-educated workforce makes businesses more productive. The executive summary of the study can be downloaded here.

The $1 million prize can be used by the winning city to launch a national promotional campaign centered on talent development. In order to be eligible for the competition, cities had to register by May 2 and be either the largest metropolitan area in the state, or have a population of 500,000 based on 2009 Census data. The Talent Dividend Prize is supported by The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education.

As an added incentive to competing cities, The Kresge Foundation announced that it will also award up to $570,000 in $10,000 “challenge grants” to cities that are able to secure an additional $10,000 from donors to further support local college achievement.

For more information on the Talent Dividend Prize, visit www.talentdividendprize.org.


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