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Houston One of 50 U.S. Cities Competing to Increase College Degree Earners, Win $1 Million

CEOs for Cities to award Talent Dividend Prize to metropolitan area with the greatest increase in college degrees conferred by 2013

More than 50 U.S. cities today officially entered the $1 million Talent Dividend competition, to see which city most increases the number of residents with a college degree by September 2013. Center for Houston’s Future, a non-profit that seeks to advance the Houston region as one of the top ten global communities in which to live and work, is leading the effort in Houston, acting as the key liaison between CEOs for Cities and an area Advisory Panel consisting of leaders in education, business and government.

Center President and CEO, Catherine Mosbacher, remarked, “Education is the cornerstone for our region’s success and we are pleased to be on the forefront of this national initiative. With our partners, we are committed to raising the bar in educational attainment, and ensuring that the American dream is achieved by an ever-increasing slice of our population.”

The Center’s partners in this endeavor so far include Dr. Terry Grier, Houston ISD; Elaine Barber, Greater Houston Partnership; Representative Scott Hochberg, Texas House of Representatives; Barbara Paige, Houston Leadership for Tomorrow; Dr. Mary Spangler, Houston Community College System; Dr. Renu Khator, University of Houston; Dr. Richard Carpenter, Lone Star Community College System; Douglas Foshee, El Paso Corporation; and, Stephen Maislin, of the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

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.

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.

CEOs for Cities President and CEO Lee Fisher was joined today by representatives of The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation, and officials from dozens of competing cities to kick-off the competition 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. In the Houston region alone, a 1% increase in college attainment would result in an additional $4.2 Billion dollars for the local economy, according to CEOs for Cities. The winner will be announced in September 2014.

“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 that the more educated a city’s population, the more robust its economy will be.”

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.

Center for Houston’s Future, the Region’s Think Tank, is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization that brings business and community together to innovate for the future of the Houston area, by planning strategically for the region, strengthening the base of diverse business and civic leadership, and informing people about – and engaging them in – the necessary groundwork for the region’s global future. To find out more, visit

For more information on the Talent Dividend Prize, visit

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