Over two full days in the spring of 1960, Project Talent assessed the aptitudes and abilities, hopes and expectations of high school students from 1,353 schools across the country. The goal was to identify the unique strengths and interests of America’s young people and to ensure they were being guided into careers that would make the best use of their talents. Follow-up studies collected information on occupations, family formation, education, and health. The study was developed by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and funded by the United States Office of Education.
Project Talent is the only large-scale, nationally representative study that tracks participants from adolescence to retirement age. It helps us understand how experiences, environments, genetics, and behaviors combine to make us who we are and influence how we age. The new follow-up study will have a special focus on memory and cognitive health in an effort to develop evidence-based policies to combat the looming Alzheimer’s crisis. Studies project that by 2050, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease will more than triple, reaching 16 million. The cost of caring for sufferers will exceed $1 trillion annually.
“The Project Talent generation is very important in the history of this country,” says Susan Lapham, Project Talent’s Director. “Now, they have the opportunity to help us address one of the most pressing public health issues currently facing our country: the skyrocketing rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”
In 1960, Project Talent was remarkable for the diversity of its participants, who represented every facet of American life. Researchers hope that the new Project Talent study will be just as diverse. Members of Perry H.S. classes of 1960-1963 who are asked to participate in the follow-up study are strongly encouraged complete the mail survey and share their experiences with researchers.