The Ivy League university’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation has whittled away more than 600 applicants for the latest Innovations in American Government Award.
The Boise City Department of Arts and History, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in March, is among 25 survivors.
Director Terri Schorzman said the department’s mission to engage the community, involve new city residents and provide context for contemporary problems caught evaluators’ eyes.
“It doesn’t happen anywhere that we can find at a municipal level for a city to commit to a full department, arts and history combined together,” Schorzman said. “To have a full department that’s dedicated to looking at both of these in an integral way and to have the municipality paying attention to its local history is really key.”
Sometime in the fall, a committee will choose five finalists and, from them, one winner, Harvard spokeswoman Kate Hoagland said.
The winner will be eligible for a $100,000 grant. The other finalists will receive $10,000 grants.
For more information on the award program, visit the Ash Center’s website.
Here’s a list of the award’s 25 semifinalists:
Commonwealth of Kentucky
In the Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program, social workers—with public defenders—develop and present individualized alternative sentencing plans to the court as options other than incarceration. Persons who would normally be jailed or imprisoned stay in the community, receive services, and become less likely to reoffend.
General Services Administration
Challenge.gov is the federal government’s online portal for running challenge and prize competitions. Challenge allows the government to crowdsource solutions to problems in a contest format, bringing diversity in solutions and contributors. This is a pay-for-performance model that saves money on key initiatives and broadly drives innovation within and beyond government.
Children First Network Expansion
New York City Public Schools, NY
The Children First Network Expansion integrates the instructional and operational supports provided to New York City’s public schools to ensure that the critical decisions are made by those closest to school and are based on identified student needs.
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives has created a role for “citizen archivists” in accomplishing the agency’s crucial mission of elevating the importance of public participation. Citizens can now provide substantive contributions (tags, transcripts, images) that increase access to the records of the federal government
Consular Team India
Department of State
Consular Team India swapped stove piping for collaboration among consular sections, a move inspectors suggested made it “the strongest of any large consular operation in the world.” By eliminating duplication and enhancing standardization, the model taps the talents of 340 employees to better serve travelers and our nation’s security and economy.
City of Boise, ID
While few local governments fund historical programs, the city of Boise created the Department of Arts and History, endorsing the field as essential for decision making, community engagement and awareness; providing contextual understanding of contemporary issues; and enabling connections for new citizens.
King County, WA
King County moderated its healthcare costs through improved employee health and the use of higher quality healthcare. A benefit plan rewards employees with lower out-of-pocket expenses for choosing quality healthcare and participating in wellness activities, while work through a regional collaborative drives healthcare quality improvements.
City of New York, NY
Located in the highest need communities throughout New York City, Homebase programs serve families who are at imminent risk of homelessness with customized assistance where and when they need it most. Using an unparalleled amount of data from the city’s shelter system, Homebase targets those households who would go into shelters without prevention services.
Department of Transportation
IdeaHub is an online community that enables U.S. Department of Transportation employees to build and develop ideas in a collaborative environment. Employees are empowered to rate, improve, and discuss innovative ideas to make the Department a 21st-century agency that is adaptable, creative, and enterprising.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
LAUNCH is a public-private partnership focused on identifying and accelerating high-impact ideas or technologies for such global sustainability challenges as clean water, health, energy, and education. NASA, USAID, the State Department, and NIKE partnered to form LAUNCH to search for innovations that show great promise for making tangible impacts on society.
Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
City of Boston, MA
The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) offers an approach to civic innovation focused on delivering transformative city services to residents. MONUM focuses on a broad range of areas from increasing civic participation and improving city streets, to boosting educational outcomes.
Louisville Metro Government, KY
Metropolitan College (MC) is a workforce, education, and economic development partnership. MC provides educational opportunities to many Kentucky residents while meeting the workforce needs of one of Louisville’s largest employers.
National Coordination of Health IT
Department of Health and Human Services
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has enabled nationwide progress in electronic health records adoption by changing the way government works—partnering with the private sector to solve problems that neither government nor markets can solve alone.
Native Science and Engineering Program
State of Alaska
The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) is creating a systemic change in hiring patterns of Indigenous Americans in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by increasing the number of individuals on career paths to leadership in these fields. The ANSEP model is longitudinal, providing inspiration and guidance to students.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) is a federal strategy that aligns and targets efforts of the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Treasury to revitalize the nation’s most distressed neighborhoods. Through interventions addressing persistent crime, failing schools, crumbling housing, and health disparities, NRI tackles the interconnected causes of neighborhood distress.
City of New York, NY
The Office of Financial Empowerment educates, empowers, and protects low-income New Yorkers by increasing access to high-quality, low-cost financial education and counseling; improving access to income-boosting tax credits; connecting households to safe and affordable banking and asset-building products and services; and enforcing and improving consumer protections to enhance financial stability.
Opportunity Probation with Enforcement
State of Hawaii
Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) delivers swift, certain, and proportionate jail consequences for each probation violation. HOPE’s design allows a single judge to supervise nearly 2,000 felony offenders while reducing positive drug tests, missed appointments, probation revocations, new arrests, and incarceration.
Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Re-Powering America’s Land Initiative revitalizes degraded land by building infrastructure for our clean energy future, while preserving green space. The program turns community liabilities into assets by fostering an unconventional, collaborative network among players in the energy and remediation sectors.
Santa Clara County, CA
Rocketship Education is building a network of high-performing charter schools dedicated to its mission of eliminating the nationwide achievement gap. The Rocketship Education model features individualized instruction for every student in its Learning Lab by leveraging tutors and online programs, a highly-effective leadership development program, and parent engagement for community advocacy.
City and County of San Francisco
SFpark is a parking-based approach to congestion management. It uses demand-responsive pricing and real-time information about where parking is available to make it easy to find a parking space quickly, reducing circling and double parking, thereby helping to achieve a broad suite of social benefits.
Smart Roadside Inspection System
State of New Mexico
The Smart Roadside Inspection System identifies high-risk trucks without interfering with the flow of commerce by integrating specialized roadside imaging systems with multiple back-end data networks that instantaneously synthesize disparate pools of data into valuable information.
City of Dubuque, IA
Smarter Sustainable Dubuque is a partnership designed to give people what they need (access to data) to do what they want (save money, conserve resources, and improve the economy and environment). “Smarter” water, electricity, gas, and transportation meters collect data to help residents make these decisions and improve their health.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Sustainable Communities Initiative is helping 142 rural, suburban, and urban communities link jobs with transportation and housing, foster long-term economic growth, and protect the environment through Regional Planning and Community Challenge grants. The program is a collaboration with the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Westchester County Public Schools, NY
Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers recruits, mentors, and trains culturally-diverse and economically-challenged students from high school through college and places them as teachers and leaders in their communities.
Yukon River Tribes and Nations
The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council bridges 70 sovereign Indigenous governments in a consensus international governance model focused on making the Yukon River water drinkable. Under the model, they are navigating complex jurisdictional challenges, historical conflict, and diverse partnerships with government agencies, private industries, research institutions, and communities.