Philadelphia in race to boost education numbers

Philadelphia wants to take home a prize of $1 million for getting more residents to finish two or four year degree programs.

Philadelphia’s quest to win the “Talent Dividend” competition could pay for itself–according to the nonprofit, CEOs for Cities, who organized the competition. 

By the organization’s calculations, a mere one percent rise in educational achievement would mean $4.4 billion in added income for city residents each year. 

But CEOs for Cities felt it needed to add a little more incentive. To move college completion higher up cities’ priority lists, it’s pitting cities against each other–offering the $1 million prize to the municipality that can raise education levels the most.

Notably this doesn’t just mean upping graduation rates among local residents. The numbers also involve retention of graduates from Philadelphia’s many schools.

“Key for us in this competition is that Philadelphia has to be able to lift and leverage what’s already here and the price of a million dollars is sort of an incentive for that,” says Deborah Diamond, who leads Campus Philly, an organization that seeks to attract and retain college students to the Philadelphia region. She welcomed the head of CEOs for Cities to present the competition to her group, last week.

“We feel like we’re in it to win it,” said Diamond. after the meeting.

The Philadelphia region has the second biggest concentration of colleges and universities in the country, after Boston. “Many organizations [in Philadelphia] are already working towards this goal in various forms and we’re hoping that the competition sort of helps us align and organize ourselves, and coordinate our efforts, so that they’re more impactful,” said Diamond.

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