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Policy Competition Awards Four Prizes to Innovative Programs that Fight Poverty Nationwide

Out of the rubble of the Great Recession emerges a renewed spirit of innovation and collaboration to tackle the record numbers of Americans in poverty. Winners of the new Ideas for Action Awards epitomize the new ingenuity and refocus our attention on opening doors out of poverty.

Ideas for Action Award co-chair Professor Lawrence Jacobs

The Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, in collaboration with the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, and with sponsorship from the Northwest Area Foundation, launched the Ideas for Action Award in June 2012, drawing nearly 50 submissions from across the nation. A panel of experts in the field selected four innovative efforts that pursue two significant approaches to poverty reduction: financial asset building and pathways out of poverty. The inaugural winners will be awarded a combined total of $30,000 of prize funds.

“Out of the rubble of the Great Recession emerges a renewed spirit of innovation and collaboration to tackle the record numbers of Americans in poverty.” said Ideas for Action Award co-chair Professor Lawrence Jacobs. “Winners of the new Ideas for Action Awards epitomize the new ingenuity and refocus our attention on opening doors out of poverty."

“We welcome the fresh thinking these winners have presented at a time when a growing number of families are trying to work their way out of poverty,” said Kevin Walker, president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation. “We are pleased to provide support for moving these proven and promising ideas into actions that open new pathways to prosperity.”


Achievement Awards of $10,000 each go to:

- Arkansas Career Pathways marries the state’s TANF agency with community colleges seeking students, employers hungry for skilled workers, and women in poverty ready to gain the training to fill those jobs. As a result, the skill gap that was making the state’s companies less competitive is narrowing; more than 80% of the women attending school as part of the program are attaining educational success, and the door of opportunity has opened for thousands to walk through.

- The Financial Clinic embeds financial services and asset building assistance in countless locations where low-income populations seek help. Navigating the bewildering world of personal finance is a critical step in escaping poverty. The Financial Clinic’s partnership with United Way of New York City and the New York City Human Resources Administration has accelerated and amplified these efforts.

Promising Practices awards of $5,000 each go to:

- Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU) takes a pioneering approach to helping low-income women in the Greater Boston area attain economic independence for themselves and their families. CWU is committed to new product development, with one of its new initiatives being a customized and fully integrated five-year self sufficiency program called Career Family Opportunity, which targets low-income single parents facing multiple, complex challenges.

- The Iowa Credit Union Foundation helps hundreds of struggling people to start and build savings by lining up matching funds, cutting red tape, and delivering additional assistance. The foundation’s broad coalition of partners in government, the nonprofit sector, and business has successfully overcome traditional challenges to the Individual Development Account (IDA) model and proved that IDAs can be critically valuable tools in the fight against poverty.

Please visit http://evans.uw.edu/centers-projects/nbec/ideas-for-action/ideas-for-action-2012-awardees for more information.