Bright Ideas Compete for Cash
By Eric Kelderman, Staff Writer
Six state programs, ranging from Maine's comprehensive health care reform to Wisconsin's environmental program for businesses, are competing for $100,000 grants in one of the nation's premiere good government competitions. The half-dozen state initiatives are among 18 finalists for prizes given by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in conjunction with the non profit Council for Excellence in Government . The programs include:
- Connecticut's Supportive Housing Pilots Initiative , a public-private partnership that provides homeless people with affordable rental housing, health and addiction treatment services and employment counseling.
- Illinois' Generations of Hope , a planned community designed to help new adoptive families of foster children who have prospect of a permanent family. It is also home to a group of about 60 senior citizens who serve as honorary "grandparents" to create an intergenerational neighborhood.
- Dirigo Health Reform in Maine, which is meant to expand health coverage through insurance subsidies to low-income individuals and families and a statewide insurance plan offered to businesses and self-employed workers.
- Teaming, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which aims to reduce isolation among social workers and improve services for families in crisis. Under the program, teams of social workers collaborate on a group of family cases.
- Promising Practices Network of Missouri, an online resource that gives social service providers and policy-makers access to research-based information on helping children, youth and families. Missouri is one of seven states that has partnered with the Rand Corporation on the Web site and its content.
- Wisconsin's Green Tier , a voluntary program to that gives businesses more flexibility to improve their environmental standards, often at a lower cost and with less red-tape.
More than 1,000 federal, state and local government programs entered this year's contest, called the Innovations in American Government Award. The 18 finalists will be judged on novelty, effectiveness and potential to be replicated when they make one last presentation to a selection committee in Cambridge, Mass. on May 25. Seven winners will each receive $100,000 at a July 10 ceremony in Washington, D.C. The money is meant specifically to share information about the winning programs with other organization and governments.