Lumina's 17 Talent Hub Cities Promote Education, Racial and Economic Justice
Lumina Foundation has recognized 17 communities across the country for extraordinary efforts to promote education beyond high school—efforts that a foundation official says will ultimately help families and the communities themselves.
“They are not just working to get more students enrolled in postsecondary education,” Danette Howard, Lumina senior vice president and chief strategy officer, said of the Talent Hubs program.
“They are actually going to help make sure that those students get out with credentials that are going to make a meaningful difference in their lives. These credentials will help them get jobs, earn meaningful wages, and help them and their families lead better lives.”
The Talent Hub cities, ranging from major metro areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver and Boston, to smaller communities such as Columbus, Ind., and Racine, Wis., were recognized for working to attract and retain talent, including nontraditional college students and people of color while seeking to boost post-high-school learning. Each of the communities will receive $350,000 in grants from Lumina and the Kresge Foundation over three and half years.
Talent Hubs is part of a larger effort supported by Lumina and many states to ensure 60 percent of working-age adults have college degrees, workforce certificates, or other high-quality credentials by 2025.
The communities were measured against very rigorous criteria including student support, Howard said.
“They’re committing to ensuring that not only do these students get into higher education and have the opportunity to earn a credential, but that every step along the way they have the support services they need to get through successfully,” she said.
“The idea is to avoid the dropout syndrome that we see so often, so that they have a solid pathway through higher education and earn the credentials they deserve.”
Closing equity gaps is one of the key elements of the Talent Hubs.
“Each of our 17 communities has a goal around closing gaps in postsecondary attainment for their populations,” Howard said. “We expect to see over the course of these grants that these communities will significantly narrow—if not close—the gaps in attainment for their Hispanic, African-American and American Indian populations. And that’s something that we are incredibly excited about, and that I think will serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”
Talent Hubs grew from a network of 75 communities started four years ago by Lumina called the Community Partnership for Attainment.
“What we wanted to do with Talent Hubs was signal a new standard, a new direction for community collaboration for attainment that elevated all of the best parts of the Community Partnership for Attainment,” said Haley Glover, the Lumina strategy director leading both bodies of work.
“We wanted to put some flags in the ground: We have to be about attainment. We can’t just be about working with young students. We can’t just be about getting more students ready for college. We have to get them to college—we have to get them through college. And we have to get them out of college in order to lead the kinds of lives we know that they can lead with that credential.”
To achieve the Talent Hub designation, communities needed to show they had sustainable partnerships needed to create change.
“They also needed to show that they are focused on working at the system-change level,” Glover said.
“Are you doing your work in a way that’s going to change not just the situation for the current generation of students, but for the future?”