25 Best Examples of Innovative Government Programs

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University will award $100,000 to a grand price winner for the Innovations in American Government Awards.

2 minute read

May 15, 2017, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Downtown Flint Michigan along Saginaw Street

Tony Faiola / flickr

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recently announced the Top 25 programs in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition, including the seven finalists who will compete for the $100,000 grand prize on May 17 in Cambridge.

"The Innovations in American Government Awards was created by the Ford Foundation in 1985 in response to widespread pessimism and distrust in government’s effectiveness," according to press releases announcing the awards finalists. "Since its inception, over 500 government innovations across all jurisdiction levels have been recognized and have collectively received more than $22 million in grants to support dissemination efforts." 

Of the Top 25 listed in the release, seven finalists are also announced. Among the seven finalists is the Public Spaces Community Places program, launched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Patronicity. An article by The Peninsula details that program's recognition by the awards competition, and explains how it works:

Through PSCP, local residents raise funds for project ideas through the Patronicity crowdfunding program, and if they hit a certain goal, the MEDC steps in to support them. Its goal is the creation of new or restoration of old public spaces for community use. It has also already raised more funds than any other state when it comes to grassroots efforts: $4.3 million from communities and an additional $3.6 million from the MEDC in a mere 3 years.

Sunday, May 14, 2017 in Harvard Kennedy School

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

Vacant storefront in historic building on Powell Street in San Francisco, California

Few Landlords Pay San Francisco Vacancy Tax

Less than 3 percent of properties potentially subject to a new vacancy tax were filed as vacant in the last year, but empty storefronts in the city persist.

3 hours ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of manufactured home being dropped off or moved by red truck in mobile home park

In Spite of Affordability Crisis, Richmond Rejects Manufactured Housing Plan

After declaring a housing crisis, the Virginia capital’s city council voted against a proposed manufactured home warehouse that would distribute replacements for aging manufactured housing stock.

5 hours ago - Greater Greater Washington

Graphic for '1000 Joys of Planning' with The Planning Commission Podcast

A Planning Commission Podcast Journey: The 1,000 Joys of Planning

The Commissioners explore the facets of the planning profession that fill their cups with joy.

7 hours ago - The Planning Commission Podcast

Project Manager III

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

UDO Transportation Planner

City of Charlotte - Charlotte Area Transit

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.