On January 16, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC) at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs announced winners of the 2012-13 Local Government Innovation Awards, an annual competition to reward counties, cities, and schools that are making Minnesota better through innovative practices and ideas. The PNLC has sponsored the awards for six years, but this year, citizens across the state voted among three finalists to determine which entrant would receive a $25,000 grant to continue its work.
Eight judges sifted through 111 entries to choose 18 winners--six school districts, six cities, and six counties--which were announced in December 2012. Between January 7 and 15, three finalists--Early College at Irondale High School (Mounds View Public Schools), the Saint Paul EMS Academy (City of Saint Paul), and the Jail-reentry Program Return on Taxpayer Investment Model--competed for public support for their ideas.
More than 2,000 total votes were cast across the state to choose among the three finalists. The winner of the $25,000 grant is Mounds View Public Schools’ Early College at Irondale High School. Irondale is the first school in Minnesota to offer a comprehensive early college program allowing students the opportunity to earn a free two-year associate degree. By enhancing its existing dual enrollment opportunities for high-achieving students and providing foundational courses for students in the academic middle, Irondale has created a pathway to earning an associate degree for a broader range of students.
"Irondale's focus on average students for higher education classes was different and commendable," says says P. Jay Kiedrowski, a senior fellow with PNLC and one of the judges.
Each of the three finalists’ innovations received such overwhelming support that the Bush Foundation decided to award the runners up--the City of Saint Paul and Dakota County Community Service--grants of $10,000 each.
The Humphrey School is pleased to partner with the Association of Minnesota Counties, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota School Boards Association, and InCommons to conduct the 6th annual Local Government Innovation Awards. This year’s awards have been made possible with the support of InCommons, an initiative of the Bush Foundation that inspires, supports, and connects community-powered problem-solving. To learn more about the Local Government Innovation Awards, the finalists, or the award winners, visit InCommons.org/LGIA.