News - $1 Million Prize Goes to Northeast Ohio for Improvement in Postsecondary Attainment

The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) was awarded the Talent Dividend Million Dollar Prize today in recognition of improvement in postsecondary attainment in the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area. The national competition is an initiative of CEOs for Cities and Living Cities and includes entries from 57 metropolitan areas across the country. The Talent Dividend Network and Prize is supported by The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation. This is the grand prize for the biggest improvement in attainment in both two- and four-year colleges and universities in the nation. NOCHE accepted the award on behalf of the Northeast Ohio educational community.
The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend is an initiative of NOCHE and has three goals—increase college readiness, increase retention to degree completion and increase degree attainment among adults with some college and no degree. The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend is a regional program focused on college degree completion encompassing four metropolitan areas—Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown.
“Increasing postsecondary access and attainment is critically important for the economy of Northeast Ohio,” said Robert Reffner, Vice President and General Counsel at FirstEnergy and NOCHE’s Chairman. “We have seen projections that 64% of Ohio’s jobs will require some postsecondary education by 2020. What has been accomplished in Northeast Ohio is a huge step in the right direction. This is fantastic recognition for our region.”
The national Talent Dividend Prize is awarded to the metropolitan area that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of postsecondary degrees granted per one thousand population over a four-year period. This is a one-time award.
“This is an important and well-deserved recognition not only of the Greater Akron region but also of Northeast Ohio,” said Lee Fisher, CEO of CEOs for Cities. “The Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown regions developed a unique collaborative agreement at the outset of this national competition that if one of the regions won, 30% of the prize would be shared across Northeast Ohio. This sends a great signal to the nation that Northeast Ohio understands the importance of both college completion and regional collaboration.” 
The national prize recognizes the commitment of NOCHE member institutions serving the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area: Hiram College, Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Stark State College and The University of Akron. These institutions, among others, committed to the Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend program at the outset.
According to CEOs for Cities, the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area produced 2,139 more postsecondary degrees than four years ago for an astonishing 20 percent increase. The increase in degrees awarded was a result of cross-regional and cross-sector collaboration including two-year, four-year, public and private higher education institutions and their many collaborating partners. The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend galvanized support for collective impact in raising educational attainment across four metropolitan areas, including Akron.
Totally, Northeast Ohio has gained 92,000 college degree holders since 2009. This represents a nearly three percentage point increase. Each one percentage point increase in degree attainment in Northeast Ohio has a positive $2.8 billion annual economic impact for the region according to CEOs for Cities. The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend is governed by a steering committee of education, business, civic, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders working toward the same goal of increasing college attainment.
 “College degree attainment—both two-year and four-year—is critically important to Northeast Ohio,” said Roy Church, President of Lorain County Community College and Vice Chairman of NOCHE. “We must continue to focus on preparing our citizens for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Although this particular award focuses on college degree attainment, there is no question that success starts in early childhood and continues throughout your working career. That is why NOCHE is expanding its future work to reflect a cradle-to-career emphasis.”
The $1 million will be used throughout the region to support future postsecondary attainment initiatives. NOCHE and its members will share the bulk of the award. Other organizations that came on-board at the beginning to support entry into the national Talent Dividend Prize competition are partners in the local Greater Akron program and will receive smaller amounts.  They are Portage County Educational Services Center, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, Akron Public Schools, Summit County Council and Summit Education Initiative.
The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education strives to increase educational opportunity and attainment leading to postsecondary credentials and employment. NOCHE also advocates for higher education as a stimulus for economic development. The NOCHE board includes the presidents of all of Northeast Ohio’s public two-year and four-year institutions of higher education plus some private college presidents. The board membership also has participation by many business leaders from the region.
NOCHE’s member institutions are Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, DeVry University, Hiram College, Eastern Gateway Community College, Kent State University, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Stark State College, The University of Akron, University of Phoenix and Youngstown State University. NOCHE collaborates with all of the region’s colleges and universities on internships, educational attainment and personalized blended learning.
Sponsors of the Talent Dividend Million Dollar Prize Announcement include The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Say Yes to Education, Knight Foundation and AVID.
NOCHE: Connecting business and higher education