Humphrey School announces annual Local Government Innovation Awards

State capitol

The University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC), in collaboration with The Bush Foundation, announces its 11th annual Local Government Innovation Awards (LGIA) to recognize innovation, impact, sustainability, and potential for growth for cities, counties, townships, schools and Native nations in Minnesota.

The awards competition, now entering its second decade, brings attention to the innovative ways that local governments in Minnesota have responded to rising costs, reduced revenues, and increasing demand for public services, said Jay Kiedrowski, Humphrey School senior fellow and LGIA program lead.

“As we continue to work with the Bush Foundation and bring our partners together each year for review of our awards program criteria, our conversations about the innovation and collaborative nature of projects also expand,” said Kiedrowski. LGIA’s partners include the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Association of Townships, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota School Boards Association.

LGIA and The Bush Foundation discussions focused on Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized tribes, whose cultures and voices fulfill a distinctive role with local government.

“In an effort to seek more detail and heighten awareness about Native nations and the role they play in Minnesota, we are adding a fifth award category entitled the Local Government and Native Nation Collaboration Award. We will intentionally ask applicants to describe those relationships and impact as they relate to their co-created project,” said Kiedrowski.

This new category requires a collaborative submission between a Native nation and a city, county, township or school. The Bush Foundation will provide grants of $5,000 each to the Native nation and the local government entity recognized in this category. Award recipients in each of the four original categories (cities, counties, townships, and schools) will also receive a $5,000 grant from the Bush Foundation, which are to be used to continue local government innovation and redesign.

Eileen Briggs, who leads the Bush Foundation’s Native Nation Building Initiative, said, “We are excited to be adding a specific award to recognize Native nations in the context of local government. The Bush Foundation has a history of close-knit relationships with tribal nations and LGIA is interested in elevating collaborations in the same geography. It just made sense to establish an award to encourage more work in a similar spirit.”

The LGIA’s mission is to recognize excellence to drive continuing improvements in local government programs and services. Submissions are evaluated on how they create greater accountability; use incentives, targeting and funding to meet those in need; orchestrate competitive contracting; manage collaboration or consolidation; deploy prevention strategies that eliminate the need for a service or divest current services to the community.

The judges, representing PNLC and the program’s partners, will consider innovation, impact and sustainability of projects. Up to 20 local government entities will be recognized. The winner in each of the five categories will receive a professional video highlighting their work, in addition to their grant.

LGIA winners in 2016 were the City of Eden Prairie, Vacuum Dredge Box; Cormorant Township, Cormorant Township and the Cormorant Community Center; Arrowhead Health Alliance, Arrowhead Region's Telehealth Initiative; and Sioux Trail Elementary School, Cultural Proficiency: Translating Beliefs and Actions into Student Success.

The call for entries for the 2017 LGIA runs September 18 through October 6. Winners will be recognized at a public celebration on December 7. For more information on how to enter and a list of past winners, visit


About LGIA
Since 2007, The Local Government Innovation Awards have been recognizing the creative ways counties, cities, townships and schools are making Minnesota better by pursuing innovation and service redesign. The awards were created by the Humphrey School's Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center and supported by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Association of Townships, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota School Boards Association. @PNLCHHH 

About The Humphrey School of Public Affairs
The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota is ranked as one of the country’s top 10 professional public policy and planning schools. The School is long noted for equipping students to play key roles in public life at the local, state, national, and global level and offers six distinctive master’s degrees, a doctoral degree, and six certificate programs.

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