Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program

State of Alaska

*Finalist

 

Arches Transformative Mentoring

City of New York, New York

*Finalist

 

Army Career Skills Program

United States Army

*Finalist

 

Better Bike Share Partnership

City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Since 2010, more than 150 modern bike-share systems have been launched in the United States. Although a small component of the transportation network, bike-sharing can provide a flexible, healthy, reliable, and affordable option for those seeking jobs and opportunity. To expand access to bike-share programs across the country, the city of Philadelphia created the Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP).

BBSP fosters cross-city collaboration on equitable, replicable bike-share systems. The program serves to develop, test, and disseminate strategies that reduce barriers and create incentives for the use of bike-share programs in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. In its four years, BBSP has developed an integrated cash option and discounted pass program, culturally relevant marketing, and education and outreach programs focusing on communities commonly left behind by traditional transportation services.

 

The Chelsea Hub

City of Chelsea, Massachusetts

Siloed responses to problems are often inadequate to address the interwoven issues associated with crime, poverty, and poor housing conditions. Many individuals require the services of more than one agency. Facing one of the highest violent crime rates in Massachusetts, in 2014, the city of Chelsea altered its approach to crime reduction. The Hub program addresses crime through a multiagency approach, engaging a variety of government and community workers to provide assistance to high-risk individuals and families.

Led by the Chelsea Police Department, the Hub includes 20 organizations that meet weekly to address high-risk clients’ problems, develop coordinated responses, and connect people to services. With the goal of preventing rather than responding to emergencies, the team identifies high probability cases with strong intensity of harm, spending approximately four minutes on each case and reducing the burden on the criminal justice system, the health system, and families within the city.

 

City Alive Co-op Capital

City of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Access to capital is critical for economic mobility. Immigrants and low-income communities face structural disadvantages in obtaining capital, condemning them to cycles of generational poverty. As part of an economic development initiative called City Alive, the city of Albuquerque created Co-op Capital, a microloan program that democratizes how, where, and by whom opportunity and wealth can be accessed.

Co-op Capital removes traditional barriers to capital access by creating customized lending programs through community organizations, institutions, and cooperatives. The program leverages the strong relationships that member-based, cooperative and nonprofit organizations have with their constituencies to make loan determinations based on character, trust, and mission-based community values rather than standard measures of creditworthiness.

 

College Housing Assistance Program

City of Tacoma, Washington

Even with free community college, a lack of stable housing makes obtaining a degree or certificate extremely challenging. At Tacoma Community College in Washington State, 74 percent of homeless students drop out within their first year. To improve education outcomes, the school partnered with Tacoma’s Housing Authority to launch the College Housing Assistance Program, offering rental subsidies to college students burdened by homelessness or near-homelessness.

Assistance amounts to approximately half of a student’s monthly rent and continues as long as the student makes adequate progress toward a degree. If the student completes the degree within three years, assistance lasts until graduation. The Tacoma Housing Authority is also extending subsidies to students who have exited the criminal justice system and wish to continue their education at Tacoma Community College.

                                                               

Court Compliance Program

County of Palm Beach, Florida                   

Failure to pay relatively minor criminal and traffic fines and fees can cause a devastating cycle of consequences, ranging from new fees and surcharges to license suspension and jail time. In Florida, failure to pay fees accounted for 77 percent of license suspensions between 2012 and 2015. To improve payment rates, reduce suspensions, and allow drivers to move forward with their lives, Palm Beach County has instituted a Court Compliance Program.

The Court Compliance Program provides offenders with reasonable payment alternatives to satisfy court obligations that take into account offenders’ ability to pay and stage of involvement in the court system. The County Clerk Office provides in-person consultation prior to and after court hearings to educate offenders of the benefits and consequences of court compliance. Follow-up phone calls and reminders encourage compliance with court orders.

 

Crisis Intervention Response Unit

City of Denver, Colorado

*Finalist

 

CS4RI (Computer Science for Rhode Island)

State of Rhode Island

An increasingly digital economy necessitates a workforce with diverse computer science talent. Increasing desire for tech talent is driving more common and rigorous computer science education in public schools, but high-level computer science courses are still very rare in low-income communities. To build a talented and diverse pipeline, the state of Rhode Island created CS4RI.

CS4RI aims to bring computer science education to every K–12 school in the state. The state is pairing with industry experts to provide curricula and professional development for teachers. Additionally, the program creates partnerships between schools and businesses to raise awareness of opportunities within the state and help graduates obtain good-paying jobs.

 

Digital Inclusion Pilot

City of Santa Monica, California

Income inequality reduces opportunities for America’s low-income youth to attain many of the skills necessary to succeed in tech-driven industries. Santa Monica is targeting its most vulnerable youth by launching a program that requires active participation with technology and offers new skill development through projects that enhance the community.

Santa Monica’s digital inclusion pilot trains low-income students living in affordable housing units to become future civic technologists. The city provides free 10-gigabit broadband for each affordable housing community room, as well as training workshops, IT boot camps, and opportunities to assume citizen leadership roles by testing new “smart city” technology, sharing data, and participating in the management of the technology product lifecycle. The city has hired over 20 interns from the program.

 

Employee Ownership Initiative

City of Boston, Massachusetts

Employee ownership of for-profit businesses can be a powerful wealth-building tool for low- and middle-income Americans. As part of Boston’s effort to address its racial wealth gap and support small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, the city launched its Employee Ownership Initiative in 2016.

Focusing on co-ops and employee stock ownership plans, the initiative features free onsite technical consulting for employee-owned firms in the city’s Office of Small Business Development, a workshop series on employee ownership, and new research on Boston’s employee ownership ecosystem. The city has ensured that small business loans are open to cooperative businesses, which has led to $100,000 in loans provided to a majority women-owned worker co-op in Boston.

 

Employee Advancement Right Now (EARN) Maryland

State of Maryland

In 2013, department staff at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation realized that, regardless of industry, employers faced a similar challenge in recruiting candidates with the appropriate skillsets for employment. Recognizing that a workforce system disconnected from business fails to meet the needs of jobseekers, the state created the Employee Advancement Right Now (EARN) program, which partners with industry stakeholders to equip workers with the proper skills for jobs.

EARN places businesses and workforce intermediaries at the center of the identification of workforce needs, the development of curricula, the design of trainings, and the placement of successful participants. More than 850 employers participate in the EARN program, funding solutions to employer-identified training needs and providing over 4,400 incumbent workers with new credentials. Through its work with nonprofits and community-based organizations, the program reduces barriers for underserved populations to receive training and gain employment.

 

Lean Everyday Ideas Program

State of Colorado

Frontline workers are often in the best position to identify problems and inefficiencies, but frequently lack the authority or support to drive solutions. Especially in large, cross-functional, and decentralized organizations such as the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), it can be difficult to translate localized ideas into widespread change. Colorado’s Lean Everyday Ideas (LEI) program intends to remedy this problem by carrying CDOT employee innovations from the initial suggestion stage through to replication.

LEI acts as a channel through which employee ideas are tested, shared, and replicated. The program created a user-friendly database that allows employees to submit suggestions and search for previously submitted ideas to implement on a broader scale. Team leads provide support in each of CDOT’s five regions, increasing the likelihood that an idea will be embraced.

 

Milwaukee County Housing First Initiative

County of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In 2015, the Milwaukee County Housing Division unveiled its “Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.” Since that time, the Housing Division has reduced chronic homelessness in the county by 80 percent, largely through superior tracking and outreach efforts as part of Milwaukee County’s Housing First Initiative.

The plan focuses on community-wide adoption of “housing first” principles, a dramatic expansion of permanent housing, and fostering new relationships with criminal justice partners, the business community, and philanthropic groups. The program works to identify every chronically homeless person by name and match them with housing, and the county has created a housing prioritization list to identify individuals before they become chronically homeless in the future.

 

Multnomah Idea Lab

County of Multnomah, Oregon

The Department of County Human Services (DHCS) within Multnomah County in Oregon created a dedicated team to apply the disciplines and processes of innovation to address those structures within government that widen economic disparities and impede economic mobility for people and communities of color. The Multnomah Idea Lab (MIL) employs human-centered design processes, critical policy and program analysis, and applied research as the cornerstones of its approach. At the intersections of racism and poverty are vexing questions of economic mobility and equity, requiring smart risk-taking to test new ideas in order to see change. For example, the MIL conducted a study to see what working families who earn very low incomes would do with an unconditional asset transfer. When evidence demonstrated that people used the cash strategically, the program was transitioned to the DCHS Youth and Family Services Division to be included in their collaboration with the Healthy Birth Initiative, which now provides cash transfers to African American mothers who have recently given birth.

 

Neighborhood Opportunity Fund

City of Chicago, Illinois

In every city, some neighborhoods fall victim to private disinvestment. The city of Chicago created the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund to leverage private investment in neighborhoods with strong investment markets, such as its downtown, on behalf of neighborhoods with weaker markets, which are suffering from population shifts. Using private funding generated by downtown construction projects, the fund supports underinvested commercial corridors in the city’s West, South, and Southwest sides, providing grants to small businesses and enabling new construction projects to add density in exchange for public benefits.

 

Project Re:Form

State of Michigan

For residents, navigating complex bureaucracies can feel overwhelming and dehumanizing. For government agencies, many of the offending services are cumbersome to operate and often fail to deliver desired outcomes. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) partnered with a design studio to create Project Re:Form in an effort to develop a faster, simpler, and more humane application process for public benefits such as food assistance and Medicaid.

MDHHS and its partner worked with caseworkers and residents to redesign the application process from the ground up through the eyes of its users, ultimately reducing its length by 80 percent. This has resulted in improved processing times, more-efficient allocation of benefits, and an effective user experience has cut costs.

 

Real Property Assessment Demonstration Program

County of Monmouth, New Jersey

Every year, an antiquated system allows some New Jersey property owners to avoid paying their fair share of property tax, leaving millions of dollars to be paid by the wrong people. Beginning in Monmouth County in 2014, the Assessment Demonstration Program (ADP) was developed to permanently address the social inequities created by the existing system.

ADP is reforming the assessment calendar by placing the annual County Tax Board appeal before the budgetary process. It has developed a tax board portal to provide transparent, affordable public access to assessment data. And, it has demonstrated the effectiveness of annual reassessments from a local assessor, doing away with the cost of traditional revaluations.

 

San Francisco Financial Justice Project

City and County of San Francisco, California

*Finalist

 

Solar Works DC

District of Columbia

The expanding renewable energy industry provides opportunities for gainful employment as well as a clean, stable, energy supply. As part of its Solar for All program, Washington, DC established Solar Works in 2016. The program expands the District’s solar capacity, places solar systems on low-income households to reduce electricity bills, and provides hands-on training to underserved and underemployed District residents in solar education and installation to provide them with a pathway to employment in a growing field. Solar Works DC intends to train more than 200 District residents and install solar systems on up to 300 low-income single family homes in the District over three years. The cost savings per household is roughly $15,000, which translates to approximately $600 in savings per year.

 

Storefront Improvement Program

City of Cambridge, Massachusetts

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted 27 years ago, many small businesses still struggle to make their storefronts ADA-compliant. The necessary upgrades are often cost-prohibitive. Moreover, some business owners avoid making any renovations for fear of triggering ADA compliance requirements. In 2014, the Massachusetts city of Cambridge reconfigured its Storefront Improvement Program’s benefits to target the ADA hurdle and improve public access to businesses in the city.

The program has been in place since 1996, offering technical assistance and funding for signage, facade, and accessibility improvements. Now, in addition to these benefits, ADA-related improvements are eligible for 90 percent matching grants up to $20,000—the average price of an elevator lift or ramp—encouraging a more disability-friendly business environment.

 

Supervised Release

City of New York, New York

*Finalist

 

Tech Talent Pipeline
City of New York, New York

An evolving technological business environment is changing the way we do work, making both a skilled workforce and an adaptable training system essential. In New York City, even with thriving tech companies and infrastructure to support good training, businesses still struggle to fill openings and tech jobs remain out of reach for many residents. To align employer demand with labor supply, the city developed its Tech Talent Pipeline (TTP) in 2014, designed to support the inclusive growth of the city’s tech ecosystem by delivering quality jobs for residents and quality talent for businesses.

TTP works directly with 225 companies, using sophisticated data to measure skill supply and demand; define needs; develop accessible education, training, and hiring solutions; and address systemic issues preventing New Yorkers from participating in tech-centered jobs. Additionally, 15 presidents and provosts of local institutions work with the pipeline to inform curricula, scale proven programs, address skill gaps, and promote faculty-industry exchanges.

 

Works Wonders

State of Rhode Island

*Winner