Detroit Regional Chamber > Education & Talent > Lumina Foundation and Kresge Foundation Designate Detroit as Talent Hub

Lumina Foundation and Kresge Foundation Designate Detroit as Talent Hub

May 30, 2018

Detroit Regional Chamber and higher education partners granted $275,000 to re-engage the region’s 690,000 adults with college experience but no credential

MACKINAC ISLAND, MICH. May 30, 2018 – Lumina Foundation, in partnership with The Kresge Foundation, today announced Detroit will join 23 other communities across the country designated as Talent Hubs. Talent Hub cities earn this designation by meeting rigorous standards for creating environments that attract, retain, and cultivate talent, particularly among today’s students, many of whom are people of color, the first in their families to go to college, and from low-income households.

Detroit’s Talent Hub represents a collaboration led by the Detroit Regional Chamber in partnership with Wayne State University and Macomb Community College to launch a campaign to re-engage the region’s 690,000 adults with college experience who left college before earning a degree. This work will build on the Chamber’s existing efforts targeted at traditional-age high school students and will seek to address deep disparities in educational outcomes among African Americans and low-income individuals, who fare poorly in contrast with white and more wealthy students. Detroit has the nation’s eighth largest number of African American adults with college experience but no degree.

“We recognize that cultivating Detroit’s homegrown talent—especially the 24 percent of the population who have postsecondary experience but no credential— is vital to the region’s economic prosperity,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “This new effort will further the Chamber’s goal to increase the region’s talent pool of individuals with a high-quality credential or degree to 60 percent by 2030, to meet the growing needs of employers.”

The Detroit Talent Hub partnership is part of the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative, which brings together leaders in business, government, higher education, pre-K, K-12, and the nonprofit sector, to promote higher education attainment. The Chamber will leverage the collaboration with Wayne State and Macomb Community College to identify innovative strategies for encouraging adult postsecondary credential completion and will seek to scale these practices through its coalition with the rest of the region’s two-year and four-year institutions.

To eliminate obstacles for returning adult students, Wayne State will institute a new debt forgiveness policy called ‘Warrior Way Back’. “Wayne State has developed an innovative approach to re-engage adult students who left our university with debt, but no degree,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “Our new Warrior Way Back program provides a novel approach to university debt forgiveness, allowing returning students to “learn away” what they owe while completing their degree. In addition to helping students, this will create a better educated workforce and strengthen our talent pipeline.”

Both Wayne State and Macomb Community College have designed their programs with the unique needs of the adult student in mind. “We hear from many of our students that they need to juggle a variety of obstacles when pursuing an education that will help them advance and secure a stronger future,” said James O. Sawyer IV, president, Macomb Community College. “Whether it’s work, caring for family members or other responsibilities, these challenges can seem insurmountable when faced alone. It is our goal through this program to reach out to these students, bring them back to higher education and help them see that there is a path to reaching their goals.”

To date, Talent Hub investments by Lumina and Kresge total just over $10 million.

“Kresge is proud to continue our partnership in Talent Hubs and to financially support our hometown of Detroit,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation. “Anchored by the strong partnership between the Detroit Regional Chamber, Wayne State University, and Macomb Community College, the work in Detroit aims to help an additional 35,000 adults complete their degrees. Increasing Detroit’s college attainment rate will help lift native Detroiters out of poverty and add to the city’s ongoing revitalization.”

“We have added to the growing roster of top-flight cities committed to meeting the demands for an educated workforce,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “The Talent Hub designation serves both as an aspirational target for other cities and a foundation from which cities designated as Talent Hubs can build.”

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit

About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in American cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit

About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The Foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 40,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan.

About Wayne State University
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 27,000 students.

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