Chamber to Help Increase Number of College Degree Earners in L.A. for Shot at $1 Million

May 12, 2011 12:00 pm

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce announced today that the Chamber and collaborators of the L.A. Compact have entered Los Angeles as one of 50 U.S. cities competing to increase the number of residents with a college degree for a chance to win $1 million.

The Talent Dividend Prize will be awarded by CEOs for Cities to the metropolitan area that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of post-secondary degrees granted per capita over a three-year period.

“This is something the Chamber has been dedicated to for many years,” said L.A. Area Chamber President & CEO Gary Toebben.  “One of our three goals written in our L.A. Compact is to make sure all students have access to and are prepared for success in college … The Talent Dividend Prize will be the icing on the cake for this effort.”

The competition is designed as an effort to increase college attainment in U.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.

Through the L.A. Compact collaborative, the L.A. Area Chamber has been working with the Los Angeles Unified School District, City of Los Angeles, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, L.A.’s institutions of higher learning and others to make sure youth are successful in high school, college and have pathways to sustainable careers.

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 $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.

Competing cities include: 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, Ill.; 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.

As an added incentive to competing cities, The Kresge Foundation announced 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

For more information on the Talent Dividend Prize, visit


The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region.  For more information, visit

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Mandy Denaux, 213.580.7532
Alejandro Guzmán, 213.580.7544