College-Educated Residents are Worth a Million Bucks

June 01, 2011

Chicago is one of 57 U.S. cities involved in a contest aimed at upping the number of residents who have college degrees.

Whichever city exhibits the greatest increase in the amount of post-secondary degrees granted per capita over a three-year period will win the Talent Dividend Prize of $1 million to be awarded by Chicago-based CEOs for Cities in September 2014.

The goal of the competition is to raise college attainment. Research from CEOs for Cities shows that increasing the four-year college attainment rate in each of the 51 largest metro areas from its current median of 29.4 percent to 30.4 percent — just one percentage point — would be worth $124 billion a year in increased national earnings.

The research further 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.

The bottom line: Better-educated workers are more productive, which leads to increased income and more productive companies.

“There are huge financial gains that can be achieved through small improvements in educational attainment in our cities,” said CEOs for Cities President and CEO Lee 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.”

A few weeks ago, Fisher joined representatives of the sponsor organizations, The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education, along with officials from dozens of competing cities at Roosevelt University in Chicago to kick-off the competition.

As an added incentive, The Kresge Foundation is awarding up to $570,000 in $10,000 “challenge grants” to cities that are able to secure an additional $10,000 from donors to support local college achievement.

The challenge grant funds can be used by cities to further push their cause to increase the number of local college graduates.

“The Kresge Foundation is pleased to partner with CEOs for Cities on this innovative effort to increase educational attainment in cities across the U.S., to improve both our nation’s global competitiveness and opportunities for great numbers of low-income people to benefit from the American Dream,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation.

“While only one city will be awarded the million dollar prize, all competitors will benefit as they work with their community partners to increase talent in their cities.”

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

The competing cities:

Akron, Ohio; Albany, N.Y.; Baltimore, Md.; Baton Rouge, La.; Boston, Mass.; Bradenton, Fla.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbia, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich.; El Paso, Texas; Fargo, N.D.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Hartford, Conn.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Jackson, Miss.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Lakeland, Fla.; Little Rock, Ark.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Madison, Wis.; Manchester, N.H.; McAllen, Texas; Memphis, Tenn.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Omaha, Neb.; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; Providence, R.I.; Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Rochester, N.Y.; San Diego, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Stockton, Calif.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Tampa, Fla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Washington, D.C.; Wichita, Kan.; Youngstown, Ohio.

Categories: Contests, Education

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