The Talent Hub Designation

Talent Hubs are exemplary cross-sector partnerships focused on addressing complex social challenges in the talent system. The Talent Hub designation signifies that a local or regional cross-sector partnership has met 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. Bestowed by CivicLab, the Talent Hub designation is the only designation of its kind, is independently enforced, and serves as both an aspirational target for other cities to aim and a platform from which partnerships designated as Talent Hubs can build.

Talent Hubs, a term coined by Jamie Merisotis in his first book, America Needs Talent, are communities that organize and align themselves around talent-development goals. They seek to offer and create multiple pathways to attract, retain, and cultivate talent and to help more of their residents earn degrees and other credentials beyond the high school diploma. Talent Hubs selected through the designation process commit to significantly accelerate and advance community and regional efforts to increase credential attainment. Talent Hubs cultivate talent by pursuing system change at scale. These cross-sector partnerships understand that increasing educational attainment is not about fixing the individual; it is about fixing systems and institutions in a way that intentionally addresses gaps in attainment related to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

The designation recognizes dynamic and effective community partnerships capable of accelerating credential completion while fostering fair and just educational outcomes. The Talent Hub designation comprises five domains:

  • Partnership Health: Conditions, processes, and systems in place for the relationship-building, stakeholder engagement, data-based decision-making, and collective leadership necessary to achieve common attainment goals.
  • Equity: Closing attainment gaps using system-level strategies specifically designed to meet the needs of Native American, Black, and Hispanic learners.
  • Attainment and Impact: Strategies that increase credential completion and community-wide attainment, not mere access to education programs.
  • Alignment: Cross-sector partnerships using shared resources to accomplish common goals.
  • Scale, Sustainability, and Systems: Leveraging systems-change approaches to accelerate community-wide post-high school attainment.

As of February 2021, only 25 partnerships in the United States have earned the Talent Hub designation.  Together they form a network of exemplars, bringing together practitioners and leaders to share lessons, ideas, and resources.  Talent Hubs are also provided exclusive funding, technical assistance, and network opportunities to support their work.  Over 100 partnerships have applied for Talent Hub designation, making it one of the most exclusive and rigorous honors to be awarded to a cross-sector partnership.



Featured Talent Hub: Columbus, IN

Columbus, Indiana – a small MSA of 50,000 people – was designated a Talent Hub in 2017.  This small manufacturing community leads the country in growing the number of college graduates in their region and is one of the fastest diversifying communities in America.  The Community Education Coalition leads collaborative efforts fueling this talent powerhouse, building on a seventy-year history of cross-sector collaboration.  Discover what makes this community a Talent Hub.

Becoming a Talent Hub

Any local or regional cross-sector partnership focused on improving postsecondary outcomes is eligible to apply for the Talent Hub designation.

Partnerships interested in the Talent Hub designation begin with a series of self-assessment activities.  These activities are designed to provide an early assessment of the partnership’s readiness for the Talent Hub designation process.  This stage includes a set of consultation calls and the completion of a partnership self-assessment by several members of the partnership.

Become a Talent Hub