Humphrey School Recognizes Projects with State Government Innovation Awards

Monday, July 23, 2018

State government may not usually come to mind when Minnesotans are thinking about innovation and efficiency. But 10 state government agencies are being recognized for their creativity by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs through the 2018 State Government Innovation Awards.  

The awards, organized by the School's Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center in partnership with the Bush Foundation, highlight projects that find innovative solutions to address the needs of Minnesota residents. 

New this year, one of the four top awards recognizes a collaborative project involving a state government agency and one of Minnesota's federally recognized tribes.

“These state agencies demonstrate exceptional innovation within their organizations,” says Jay Kiedrowski, senior fellow at the Humphrey School and one of the award judges. “Each of these innovations has had a significant positive payback for the dollars invested. We hope these awards will encourage an environment of experimentation and creativity throughout state government.” 

Kiedrowski and the panel of judges considered 62 submissions for their creativity, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. The winners will be formally recognized at an awards ceremony on August 9.    

The awards, now in their fifth year, were inspired by the Humphrey School’s annual Local Government Innovation Awards, which recognize schools, cities, townships, and county government entities for their programs and projects. 

The 2018 State Government Award winners:

  • State Services for the Blind: Aging Eyes Initiative
  • Department of Corrections: Corrections Education 3.0
  • Department of Transportation and Red Lake Nation: Bridge Project Collaboration
  • Minnesota Housing: Park Place of Bemidji Supportive Housing Development
  • Minnesota Child Support Payment Center: Alternative Payment Options
  • Minnesota Management and Budget: Minnesota Results First Initiative
  • MnDOT Office of Public Engagement and Constituent Services: Listening to the Public and Reporting What We Hear
  • Department of Employment and Economic Development: CareerOneStop Chatbot: CareerBot
  • Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Trails Division: Prescribing Parks and Trails for Public Health
  • Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Communication Networks: Text-to-911 Statewide

Of the 10 overall winners, the top four will receive a professionally produced video to use to share the story of their work with others. They are:

Minnesota State Services for the Blind: Aging Eyes Initiative 
In response to increasing demand for services in the senior vision loss program, State Services for the Blind (SSB) created the Aging Eyes Initiative to partner with organizations that serve seniors. SSB has trained more than 400 service providers to recognize and provide simple services for seniors who are newly diagnosed with vision loss. Through these partnerships, 714 seniors were served in 2017.

Minnesota Department of Corrections: Corrections Education 3.0
The Adult Basic Education staff at MCF-Faribault has developed and implemented a rigorous and state-recognized approach, using innovative and real-world curriculum, to guide offender students to a high school diploma or equivalency. Despite the limits of a secure environment, the program uses a blended learning classroom and project-based assessment which has resulted in a 20 percent increase in formal test scores, and produced 300 percent more graduates per year than previous models. Students develop self-management skills to transition back to their families and communities.

Minnesota Department of Transportation and Red Lake Nation:  Highway 1 Bridge Project Collaboration
The roads and bridges involved in this project serve residents of the Red Lake Indian Nation as well as the general public traveling to and through the reservation. The remote stretch of Highway 1 is a crucial link in the transportation network of northwestern Minnesota.

Minnesota Housing: Park Place of Bemidji Supportive Housing Development
Park Place of Bemidji serves formerly homeless individuals, including many American Indians, in a 60-unit apartment building near downtown Bemidji. The development’s unique design creates a home-like atmosphere with culturally appropriate services to help residents improve their health and quality of life. The project is a partnership among many private and public-sector stakeholders in the region. 

To learn more about the State Government Innovation Awards, as well as the individual award winners and their innovations, visit

The awards ceremony and reception is August 9, at 4 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required