Campus & Community

Ash Institute names innovation award finalists

4 min read

The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) recently announced the 15 finalists for the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards competition. These programs are models of government excellence, representing innovative programming from the local, county, city, tribal, state, and federal levels. The finalists were selected from an initial pool of nearly 1,000 applicants. Winners of the 2008 Innovations Award will be announced in September with each of the six winners receiving $100,000 toward the replication and dissemination of its innovation.

The Innovations in American Government Awards Program recognizes innovative government programs that tackle public problems and improve the lives of citizens. In honoring their innovations, the program builds public confidence in government and fosters replication of best practices nationwide. These 15 finalist government programs address a host of pressing policy issues: prison reform, the immigrant workforce, nutrition in underprivileged areas, and juvenile delinquency.

On June 12, programs will present their innovations before the National Selection Committee (chaired by HKS Public Service Professor David Gergen), which will determine the 2008 winners. This free event is at HKS and is open to the public. Presentations will also be available via live Web stream. Call (617) 495-1100 for more information.

Established in 1985 at HKS by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Awards Program has honored 181 federal, state, and local government agencies over its 20-year history. The program provides concrete evidence that government can work to improve the quality of life of citizens. Many award-winning programs have been replicated across jurisdictions and policy areas and serve as forerunners for today’s reform strategies and new legislation.

The following government programs are finalists for the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards (an asterisk indicates programs that are also finalists for the 2008 Annie E. Casey Innovations Award in Children and Family System Reform).

ACCESS Plus (commonwealth of Pennsylvania) delivers health care services to low-income children and families, adapting incentives for prevention and disease management found in managed care to fee-for-service settings.

Acquisition Fund (city of New York) is a $230 million partnership that finances the purchase of land and buildings for affordable housing. Private finance tools allow smaller developers to compete in a tough market.

Division of Youth Services* (state of Missouri) rehabilitates juvenile delinquents through small, humane treatment centers, characterized by rigorous treatment, education, and extensive family and community engagement. The “Missouri Model” has achieved cost-effectiveness through transforming young people into law-abiding and productive citizens.

Fresh Food Financing Initiative (commonwealth of Pennsylvania) increases access to fresh, affordable food by providing grants and loans to supermarkets and grocery stores in underserved communities.

Getting Ready: Keeping Communities Safe (Department of Corrections, state of Arizona) is the department’s “real world re-entry effort” program. Beginning the day inmates are admitted from the time t hey are released, the program aims to transform prisons by reducing institutional violence, relapse, and recidivism.

Global Maritime Domain Awareness (U.S. Department of Transportation) is a low-cost, and rapidly deployed, global vessel traffic monitoring system that contributes to the maritime security and safety of the United States and its allies.

Intelligence Community Civilian Joint Duty Program (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) requires intelligence professionals to complete assignments outside their agency to achieve executive rank, with the goal of developing leaders who can break through silos that prevented the intelligence community from “connecting the dots” prior to 9/11.

Knowledge Management (commonwealth of Virginia) supports the Virginia Department of Transportation by strengthening its ability to share critical knowledge and the experiences of its employees to improve ongoing processes and products.

Learn and Earn Initiative (state of North Carolina) allows high school students to gain job skills, jump-start their college education, and earn a four-year degree debt free.

MassDocs (commonwealth of Massachusetts) makes affordable housing development in Massachusetts easier by creating one set of loan documents that simplifies the closing process, saving time and money.

Project Zero* (city of New York) is a juvenile justice reform initiative of the Department of Probation offering family-focused, community-based programs as alternatives to juvenile incarceration.

Solid waste and energy management (Yukon River Tribes) is a project of 66 indigenous tribes and First Nations that has improved the solid waste systems on the Yukon River through their BackHaul program, removing more than 6 million pounds of hazardous materials and recyclables that would otherwise return to the mainland.

Boston Teacher Residency (Boston Public School District) employs a hands-on, in-classroom approach to teacher training and preparation, recruiting and retaining teachers to work in the Boston Public School system.

The Welcome Back Center (state of California) assists internationally trained health professionals as they pursue re-entry into the health workforce.

The Youth Leadership Advisory Team* (state of Maine) engages youth in foster care with state and federal policymakers to create significant improvements in child welfare policies, legislation, and programs.