As a way of trying to help increase the number of college graduates this country produces, several charities are teaming up to offer a prize to the American city that most improves its production of college grads.

According to a press release from the National League of Cities:

With support from Lumina Foundation for Education and the Kresge Foundation, CEOs for Cities has announced a new Talent Dividend Competition, which will award a $1 million prize to the metropolitan area exhibiting the greatest increase in the number of postsecondary degrees granted per capita between now and 2014.

This is certainly an interesting award, no doubt designed to encourage schools to improve college preparation, attendance, and general effectiveness. Still, $1 million? In terms of municipal budgets, that’s like nothing.

The city of Newark, New Jersey, for instance, now faces an $80 million budget deficit for 2011. The prospect of getting a $1 million prize three years from now seems unlikely to inspire much improvement.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer