Ash Center’s Innovations in American Government finalists

The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program is among the seven finalists competing for the $50,000 grand prize. Credit: Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program

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The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School announced the finalists for the 2018 Innovations in American Government Award. The following seven programs will compete for a $50,000 grand prize this fall in Cambridge:

  • Alaska Native Science and Engineering ProgramState of Alaska
  • Arches Transformative MentoringCity of New York, New York
  • Army Career Skills Program, United States Army
  • Crisis Intervention Response Unit, City of Denver, Colorado
  • San Francisco Financial Justice Project, City and County of San Francisco, California
  • Supervised Release, City of New York, New York
  • Works Wonders, State of Rhode Island

For over 30 years, the Innovations Award has recognized public-sector programs that make American government, at all levels, more efficient, creative, and effective at addressing social problems and providing services to the public. The award recently restructured its broad-based policy outlook to focus an annual award cycle on a single, intractable problem in American society.

“Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time,” said Tony Saich, Ash Center director and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs. “For much of its history, America has been an engine of mobility as successive generations have risen up the economic and social ladder, and that promise is in peril.”

“Our goal was to profile programs and approaches that had a demonstrated impact in improving opportunity and wealth-creation for groups that had historically been left behind,” said Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and the director of the Innovations in American Government Program. “This year’s finalists prove that government at all levels can have a profoundly positive effect on social and economic mobility.”

This year, the award looked for initiatives that had success increasing the prosperity of communities, particularly programs that expanded opportunities to groups that had been historically excluded from access.

Selected by a team of policy experts, researchers, and practitioners, the finalists were chosen for their novelty, effectiveness, significance, and transferability, as well as their impact on issues of economic and social mobility, inequity, and stratification. In honor of their achievement all finalists will receive a monetary grant.

Representatives from each finalist program will present to the National Selection Committee of the Innovations in American Government Awards on Sept. 27, with the winner to be announced later this year. Further information on the presentations, including video livestream details, will be released in the coming month.

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit