Congratulations to Akron – Talent Dividend Prize Winner

Topics: Community Partnerships, Early College High School, Education Policy, ESSA

Numbers illustrate a story and in Akron, that story is one of well-earned success. From 2010 to 2013, Akron had an increase of more than 20 percent in the number of students earning associate, bachelor’s or advanced degrees from 2010 to 2013. That accomplishment was by a $1-million prize in the Talent Dividend Prize competition, a contest sponsored by CEOs for Cities and Living Cities to raise the number of students earning college degrees across the nation.

Increasing students earning college degrees helps with the success of individuals and communities, but also with our country as a whole. President Obama issued a challenge to our nation: that by 2020, America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Cities like Akron are showing us how it can be done.

At KnowledgeWorks, we’ve been fortunate to work alongside education and business leaders in Akron, Ohio, for nearly a decade with our early college program and StriveTogether cradle to career collective impact initiative.

Akron Early College High School (AECHS) was one of the first early colleges with which KnowledgeWorks partnered and that school has gone on to be one of the best in the state of Ohio.  The school helps make the dream of a college education a reality for many first-generation college goers. Many students graduate with both a high school diploma and associate degree and they all have the experience and skills necessary to successfully transition to college.

The Akron community knows that getting students to college completion starts long before high school. We are inspired by their commitment to post-secondary degree attainment, as well as their focus on improving academic outcomes across the entire cradle to career spectrum.

The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE), the organization who competed for the Talent Dividend Prize, will share the funding with multiple partners in the Greater Akron area, including Summit County Education Initiative, the local cradle to career partnership and member of the nationwide StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network.

“We must continue to focus on preparing our citizens for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Roy Church, President of Lorain County Community College and Vice Chairman of NOCHE in a press release about the award. “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.”

Congratulations to the Akron community! We look forward to seeing what you do next!