A biannual competition, the Ideas Challenge identifies leaders who promote innovative and sustainable solutions to the complex issues affecting our economic well-being, overall quality of life and the ability of government to work effectively to meet communities’ needs.
The winners, already a part of the NewDEAL network of 165+ state and local officials and their continuing efforts to spread pro-growth initiatives, get their ideas added to an agenda NewDEAL promotes as examples for the country to follow. Winners for this year’s Ideas Challenge were selected in the following categories:
Adapting to the future of work with ideas to ensure everyone – including traditionally underserved populations – has access to good job opportunities, as well as security and stability for them and their families
Expanding access to education, with opportunities at every level -- from early childhood to post-secondary -- to prepare students to make the most of their abilities
Securing our communities and our planet with ideas for states, cities and regions to address climate change
Empowering disadvantaged populations with policies that ensure people facing systemic obstacles have a fair shot to contribute and thrive
Rebuilding community by effectively and efficiently solving problems, building trust and engaging people in civic society
In many cities across the country, the ZIP code in which you live is the most predictive factor in your health, wealth and other life outcomes. Children from lower-income families often don’t have the same level of access to post-secondary education, making it more difficult to obtain a good-paying job and support a family – further perpetuating the cycle.
The Columbus ACCESS pilot addresses barriers that prevent lower-income youth from achieving a post-secondary education. Through the Recreation and Parks Department’s Applications for Purpose, Pride and Success (APPS) program, participants are placed in a job and receive professional development, financial education and mentoring. Eligible youth also have access to an Individual Development Account (IDA) where up to $500 in savings will be matched 8:1 with a combination of city, private and federal dollars, for a total of $4,500. Participants can use the funds for any eligible educational expense, including earning a certificate, seeking a four-year degree or learning a trade. Overall, the pilot seeks to create a level playing field and drive opportunity for the communities in most need.
Read about the finalists in this category:
Library in Every School Plan – House Democratic Whip Darrin Camilleri, Brownstown, Michigan
Alabama School of Cyber Technology & Engineering – House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, Huntsville, Alabama
In recent years, West Sacramento has seen a decline in transit ridership due to rising costs and lack of convenience. The lack of transit alternatives has resulted in parking demand challenges and has negatively impacted certain demographics like a growing senior population.
West Sacramento On-Demand is a unique micro-transit service that closes the gap between ridesharing services and traditional bus routes to serve all members of the community at a low flat-rate. The city used local Transportation Development Act (TDA) funds to partner with Via and deploy rideshare as a public transportation option. Ridership now exceeds 10,000 monthly and user feedback is positive. Seventy-five percent of riders say their satisfaction with the city’s transportation system has grown; 66 percent say they feel safer getting around town; 59 percent have a greater sense of independence; and 41 percent say their access to healthy foods and medical care has increased. West Sacramento has already started building a coalition to remove funding roadblocks for this type of innovative transit option across the county. The city has partnered with the city of Arlington, Texas, and over 50 domestic and international government organizations have contacted the city to learn more.
Read about the finalists in this category:
Fair Fees and Fines for Vulnerable Residents – Treasurer José Cisneros, San Francisco, California
Helping Understand Barriers (HUB) Prosecutor Diversion Program – City Attorney Zach Klein, Columbus, Ohio