News Release

Humphrey School Recognizes 19 Local Government Projects

Inside the state capitol

From an environmental vacuum and a virtual health network, to reimagined community centers and culturally proficient schools, Minnesota governments are redesigning products, processes, and experiences in ways that are making an impact.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota today named 19 such projects as recipients of its tenth annual Local Government Innovation Awards (LGIA), organized in partnership with the Bush Foundation and co-sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, MN Association of Townships, and the Minnesota School Boards Association. The awards recognize projects in four different categories, and name one overall award winner in each: cities, counties, schools, and townships.

As a highlight this year, a Top Innovator will be selected by an esteemed jury of Humphrey School faculty and fellows and announced at a public awards celebration next month. The Top Innovator must be a past LGIA winner that has shown continued impact and demonstrated sustainability and replication over time.

“Through this program, we continue to see innovation as governments push themselves to creatively do more with less and provide members of their community with thoughtful, connected, high-caliber services,” said Jay Kiedrowski, senior fellow at the Humphrey School’s Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center. “In our tenth year of this program, we’re able to recognize programs as part of our annual process and additionally recognize a Top Innovator that has had a long-term, sustainable impact.”

A panel of judges considered nearly 80 submissions for their creativity, sustainability, and collaboration. The overall winners of the four categories will receive a $5,000 grant from the Bush Foundation to continue their work and a professionally produced video to use for marketing and awareness. All 19 awardees will be formally recognized at an awards ceremony and reception Thursday, December 8, at 4 p.m. at the Humphrey School. To register for the event, visit

Overall category winners of the 2016 Local Government Innovation Awards include:

City Category: Innovation in Water Resource Management—Vacuum Dredge Box for Sediment Removal
The City of Eden Prairie’s Utilities Division developed a system to efficiently remove sediment and other materials carried by the storm sewer system from streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. The heart of the system—a Vacuum Dredge Box (VDB)—makes it possible to perform this work in areas that are inaccessible by large equipment due to adjacent buildings, steep terrain, or limited working space.

County Category: Arrowhead Telepresence Coalition—Collaborative Integration in Person-Centered Services for Integrated Behavioral Health
Arrowhead Health Alliance, a joint-powers entity representing the Minnesota counties of Carlton, Cook, Lake, Koochiching and St. Louis, helped create The Arrowhead Telepresence Coalition (ATC). The ATC is a virtual collaborative focused on developing and expanding an integrated behavioral health network that connects community behavioral health providers with schools, jails, rural hospitals, law enforcement, tribal providers, and others to better serve its community members.

Township Category: Cormorant Township and the Cormorant Community Center
Cormorant Community Center (CCC), formerly a one-room school, has been developed into a public gathering space for social events, meetings, and family recreation. Residents use the space—which includes a workout facility, new park, and playground—for free or for a very low cost. The project has helped residents feel more socially connected, and improved their overall feeling of health and livelihood.

School Category: Cultural Proficiency—Translating Beliefs and Actions into Student Success
Sioux Trail Elementary in Burnsville is forging new pathways by examining beliefs, values, and assumptions to guide them in daily interactions. This model, Culturally Proficient School Systems (CPSS), expands diversity practices and equity initiatives to honor students’ traditions, beliefs, and practices (culture). By re-examining the key elements of cultural competency, this model has helped create an environment of inclusion, collaboration, and healthy practices.

The complete list of 2016 Local Government Innovation Awardees includes:

City Category

  • Innovation in Water Resource Management-Vacuum Dredge Box for Sediment Removal (overall category winner)
  • Transforming Snow Plowing Operations—City of Saint Paul Public Works
  • Minneapolis Organics Recycling Education and Outreach—City of Minneapolis Division of Solid Waste & Recycling
  • The Missing Link: A Complete Streets Demonstration Project—City of Alexandria
  • Blue Zones Project Albert Lea—City of Albert Lea

County Category

  • Arrowhead Region's Telehealth Initiative—Arrowhead Health Alliance (overall category winner)
  • St. Louis County Embedded Social Worker in Duluth Police Department Program—St. Louis County
  • Washington County Child Support Service Delivery Redesign—Washington County Community Services, Child Support Unit
  • Community Services Time and Activity—Crow Wing Community Services
  • Anoka SMART—Anoka County Community Social Services and Behavioral Health

Township Category

  • Cormorant Township and the Cormorant Community Center—Cormorant Township (overall category winner)
  • Township Forum Mentorship Program—Irving Township, Kandiyohi County
  • Workman Township Service Day—Workman Township
  • Ambulance Station Miracle—Eyota Volunteer Ambulance Service

School Category

  • Cultural Proficiency:Translating Beliefs and Actions into Student Success—Sioux Trail Elementary, Burnsville (overall category winner)
  • Webster's Family-Style Dining—Webster Elementary, Minneapolis Public Schools
  • PAKRAT: Partners and Kids Reading A lot Together—St. Cloud Area School District, ISD 742
  • South St. Paul School and WIC Release of Information Referral Partnership—South St. Paul Public Schools
  • Alternative Career Pathways—Little Falls Community Schools

About LGIA

The Local Government Innovation Awards, celebrating 10 years in 2016, recognize the creative ways counties, cities, townships, and schools are making Minnesota better by pursuing innovation and service redesign. The awards were created by the Public Nonprofit Leadership Center at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and are supported by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Association of Townships, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota School Boards Association. and on Twitter at @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 five certificate programs.

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