Educational Institutions

Northeast Ohio Council On Higher Education

  • Cleveland, OH

Mission Statement

NOCHE's transformational vision is educational attainment for everyone. Its mission is as follows: For all Northeast Ohio citizens from early childhood through adulthood, we strive to increase educational opportunity and attainment leading to postsecondary credentials and employment. We advocate for higher education as stimulus for economic development through education, work-based learning, research, and commercialization.

Main Programs

  1. NEO Talent Exchange
  2. NEO Talent Dividend
  3. NEOLearns
Service Areas



NOCHE's 23-county coverage area encompasses about 30 higher education institutions that enroll more than 226,000 degree-seeking students. Our services are provided across the 23-counties.

ruling year


President since 2014


Robert Briggs



higher education, economic development, talent development, brain gain, internships

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Also Known As







Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Higher Education Institutions (B40)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

On October 29, 2014, NOCHE was awarded the Talent Dividend Million Dollar Prize recognizing improvement in postsecondary attainment in the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area. NOCHE led the Talent Dividend across Northeast Ohio and facilitated the contest entries for the region's eligible cities. NOCHE led efforts to improve college completion and focused attention on the economic benefits of increasing educational attainment. The national competition included entries from 57 metropolitan areas across the country. Our region led the country improvement in postsecondary degrees awarded for both two- and four-year colleges and universities. NOCHE accepted the award on behalf of the Northeast Ohio educational community with the understanding that we have more work to do to in educational attainment.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

NEO Talent Exchange

NEO Talent Exchange: A program designed to coordinate internships and co-op experiences for students and to help businesses establish or improve internship and co-op programs. Internship and co-op programs are among the best incubators of talent at a time when the expansion of our regional economy requires more educated workers. A thriving Northeast Ohio economy will attract and retain the nation's best and brightest talent, and internships are a key retention strategy.



Population(s) Served


Program 2

NEO Talent Dividend

A network of higher education institutions and foundations facilitated by NOCHE with a goal of graduating more students with two- and four-year college degrees. The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend provides the perfect opportunity to reap significant economic benefit for Northeast Ohio by a targeted effort to increase college completion in the region. With Ohio's rank below national averages for every age category for every level of college degrees, and the projection that 64% of jobs in the state will require some postsecondary education by 2020, Northeast Ohio must come together to increase the number of people with college degrees. NOCHE's goal is to make Northeast Ohio the best talent pool in the nation.



Population(s) Served


Program 3


Our NEOLearns initiative has several strategies, one of which is blended learning. Our NEOLearns Personalized Blended Learning program is focused on helping teachers transition into facilitators leading their students in "academic discovery" and creating classroom experiences aligned to personalized education meeting every child’s unique needs.



Population(s) Served


Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Increasing educational attainment in Northeast Ohio.

  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Goal #1: Engage higher education, business, civic leadership and others collectively to drive economic growth by expanding the region's diverse talent pool through increased degree attainment.

    a) Convene thought leaders and NOCHE partners to collaborate on best practices to optimize student performance, increase retention, and decrease time-to-degree attainment.

    b) Convene institutional partners, work with them to achieve the goals of the Governor's task force on affordability and efficiency, measure and communicate the results.

    c) Continue to grow and develop NOCHE's internship programs in support of workforce demands and coordinate with institutional partners' experiential learning programs and goals.

    Goal #2: Ensure NOCHE's effectiveness in providing value to its members through thought leadership and collective application of resources to achieve shared goals.

    a) Develop and maintain a comprehensive communications/marketing plan on the role of higher education in talent development, economic development and economic growth that also includes enhanced roles and visibility of higher education with economic development and business leadership.

    b) Build collaborative partnerships to strengthen core programs, generate new revenue and funding sources, and, where beneficial, integrate with successful programs outside NEO.

    c) Maintain sound financial management, professional staff support and robust Board engagement to ensure continued collaborative value of NOCHE membership.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    NOCHE is a proven facilitator, experienced with managing dynamic partners and complex programs solving regional challenges in education. NOCHE's capability to manage the project as a third-party support allows our members to focus on their existing work while NOCHE manages specific projects on their behalf. Our Board membership and their drive for educational attainment has the ability to monumentally improve educational attainment for all.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Closing the achievement gap for students who enter and graduate from college indicates progress to our organization.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Not available.
Service Areas



NOCHE's 23-county coverage area encompasses about 30 higher education institutions that enroll more than 226,000 degree-seeking students. Our services are provided across the 23-counties.

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Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Northeast Ohio Council On Higher Education



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Robert Briggs


Robert Briggs is a nationally recognized expert in foundation leadership, collaboration and team building. As former chair of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Briggs led the foundation through key transitions, including a board restructuring, investment changes and overall directional shifts.

He also led the Akron-based GAR Foundation for 15 years. He is a partner, chairman emeritus and former CEO of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP.

His leadership style is decisively collaborative, and throughout his career he has been credited with helping to build strong and high functioning teams.

An active member of the Northeast Ohio community, Briggs is involved with several regional, state and national organizations. He is a director of FirstMerit Corporation.

He is chair of Invent Now, Inc., parent of The National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation. He is founding chair and member of the Fund for Our Economic Future, an unprecedented collaboration of more than 60 foundations and businesses in Northeast Ohio. He also serves on the board of Independent Sector and is active with numerous other civic and philanthropic organizations.

Recognition and honors for his service to his profession and community include the following:
* Project Love/Purple America's Gordon E. Heffern Award for Values, Ethics and Community
* Induction into the Inside Business Magazine Business Hall of Fame
* Philanthropist of the Year from the Ohio Grantmakers Forum
* Distinguished Service Award from the Akron Community Foundation
* Hope Award from the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society
* Honorary Alumni Award from the University of Akron
* Community Service Award from both the Great Trail Council of the Boy Scouts and the Northwest Summit County Rotary
* The first Team NEO H. Peter Burg Regional Vision Award
* Northeast Ohio Regional Leadership Task Force 2006 Regional Vision Award
* Sir Thomas More Award from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Foundation and the Akron Bar Association
* Harold K. Stubbs Humanitarian Award
* Honorary doctorates from The University of Akron and Baldwin Wallace University.

Briggs received his bachelor's degree from Duke University and his law degree from The Ohio State University. He and his wife, Alyssa Lenhoff, live in Ohio City and also have a home in Canfield, near Youngstown. He has three children and five grandchildren.



Robert Reffner


Term: Mar 2009 -


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Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?