This report provides background and an overview on the Talent Dividend Prize competition as well as key learnings from the process.

One of the most pressing challenges our nation faces is preparing a college-educated workforce. By 2018, more than 60% of jobs will require some form of college education, but today only 40% of Americans earn an associate degree or bachelor’s degree by age 27. A recent Georgetown study highlighted that Americans who haven’t earned a college degree or credential are 55% more likely to be unemployed, and the gap in lifetime earnings between a high school graduate and a four-year degree holder is edging close to a million dollars.

College Degrees

40% Today only 40% of Americans earn an associate degree or bachelor’s degree by age 27.

Recognizing the urgency to remain competitive in the global labor market, the completion agenda has emerged as a national imperative to produce more college graduates. Extending from the White House to national organizations and foundations, states, and post-secondary institutions there is a call to significantly raise the nation’s college completion rates.

In 2011, CEOs for Cities announced the National Talent Dividend $1 Million Prize Competition, funded by the Kresge Foundation, to be awarded to the metropolitan area with the greatest proportionate increase in the number of post-secondary degrees over a four-year period.

A total of 57 cities participated in the competition, with another handful of U.S. cities participating in the network. In March 2014, Living Cities joined with CEOs for Cities as a partner of the Talent Dividend Prize and, jointly with the Kresge Foundation, announced Akron, OH the winner of the $1 Million Prize on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.