2017 Award Winners


Leading Innovator: City of St. Paul Equity Strategic Action Planning for Neighborhoods

In 2017, The City of Saint Paul developed Equity Strategic Action Planning for Neighborhoods to support six of its 17 district councils whose role is to ensure inclusive representation of its residents. In recognition of the challenging racial equity work necessary to achieve this the city brought together a cohort of organizations, staff, community members and an outside advisor. The result is a disciplined approach now guides community work in inclusive ways that reach racial parity in civic decision-making.

Shakopee Police Department: Recovery Assistance Program (RAP)

City of Mankato: Water Treatment Backwash Reclamation

City of Chatfield: Chatfield Wellhead Protection

City of Morris: The Morris Model


Leading Innovator: Blue Earth County Human Services, Sheriff's Department, and Mankato Department of Public Safety: Yellow Line Project

The Yellow Line Project (YLP) provides the earliest response possible when individuals with acute or chronic mental/chemical health problems come in contact with law enforcement. Funded by the Department of Human Services, YLP supports law enforcement and human services negotiations that provide the right services at the right time, not after they’ve crossed “the yellow line” into jail as most national in-house jail services operate. Results include direct savings in hospitalization and detox costs, reduced reliance on corrections and court services and more.

Traverse County: Broadband Wireless

Chisago County: Chisago County Regulatory Approach to Solar

Anoka County: Child Care Licensing Online Orientation

Hennepin County: Adult Shelter Connect 


Leading Innovator: Pillager Public Schools: Metier

Metier, pronounced meteor, is a grades 5-8 experiential learning program that teaches students to build a life and a career around flow, the happiest state wherein you feel and perform your best. It achieves significant impact by bringing in community, colleges, organizations, and individuals to share education and career paths so students can sample 15 career fields over two years. Metier, supported by the National Joint Powers Alliance and 3M’s Bush Foundation, will meet with 15+ schools in November 2017 to encourage replication.

Minnetonka High School: Minnetonka Academic Success Time (MAST)

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Public School District (ISD 191): Shaping Success for All Students: Financial Literacy, Career Pathways, and Business Partnerships

Hutchinson ISD 423: The TigerPath Initiative

Little Falls Community High School (LFCHS): Senior Internship Program


Leading Innovator: Sunrise Township: Broadband Initiative

Sunrise Township spearheaded an extensive effort consisting of community meetings, required notices and securing buy-in from 50% of property owners to bring broadband infrastructure to their residents. In a collaborative effort between residents and the township board, they created a Subordinate Service District (SSD) to help facilitate the installation and financing of high-speed internet through Century Link. The township received a grant and began acquiring a bond while Century Link assists with funding and works to install fiber optics to SDD area residents by December 2018.

Oxford Township: Oxford Township Water Monitoring Project

Township Maintenance Association: Townships Working Together

Mission Township: Mission Township Park Expansion

Clearwater Township: 2016 Gravel Road Improvement Project

Native Nations Collaborations

Leading Innovator: Lower Sioux Indian Community in the State of Minnesota + Redwood Area School District: Creating Effective Culturally-Based Resources and Results for American Indian Students

Lower Sioux and the Redwood Area School District’s partnership creates cultural resources and improves educational outcomes for Native students. Native students at Redwood have higher proficiencies in state math and reading assessments and their graduation rate is above the state’s rate. Recently, the tribal-district partnership in Redwood has led to the first American Indian Lower Sioux Tribal member elected to the Redwood Area School Board in over 20 years and the district’s adoption of an unprecedented credit-bearing Dakota language class.

Itasca County + Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe: Itasca County/Leech Lake Wellness Court

City of Mahnomen + White Earth RTC Gizhiigin Arts Incubator: Rainbow Theatre Mural Project

Pine County + Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe: C5 Juvenile Restorative Justice Program

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa + Carlton County Public Health & Human Services: Keeping Children Safe Through Collaboration