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Knoxville Competes with More than 50 U.S. Cities to Win $1 Million

CHICAGO -– Knoxville joined over 50 other U.S. cities today to officially enter a competition to win $1 million. The city showing the largest increase in college degrees over a three year period will be awarded $1 million by CEOs for Cities.

The competition was 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.

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.

"The Talent Dividend competition aligns perfectly with the Big Goal to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025," said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. "With more than 50 cities working toward the prize, we're encouraged that so many urban leaders understand the great economic impact educational attainment can have on our cities and country."

As an added incentive to competing cities, The Kresge Foundation announced today 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. Challenge grant funds can be used by cities to:

Further develop their college achievement plan to increase the number of local college graduates; Raise awareness of the value of improving college achievement; Convene partners to improve local college achievement.

Published May 10, 2011

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