K-School Honors Programs

Foundation Gives Each $100,000 to Continue Public Service

An Illinois state employment program for welfare recipients and a Kentucky project that educates parents alongside their children were among the 10 recipients of the Kennedy School's award for the year's most innovative public service programs.

Selected by a panel of experts in state and local government, the winners each earned $100,000 prizes from the Ford Foundation. "These innovators represent a new activism in government, a willingness to grapple with some of society's toughest problems," Professor of Public Policy Mary Jo Bane wrote in a press release. Bane heads the program that administers Innovations in State and Local Government Awards.

970 Entrants

This year's winning projects, dealing with issues like homelessness, undereducation and unemployment, were chosen from an original pool of 970 entrants. The 10-member selection panel was chaired by a former governor of Michigan, William G. Milliken, and included journalists, academics and politicians.

The awards are funded by a $4.5 million Ford grant made three years ago to the Kennedy School. Since its inception, the program has given $3 million to 30 programs.

The 1988 winners also include the Massachusetts Industry Action Project, a state program which seeks to revitalize state industries, and Single-Room-Occupancy Residential Hotel Program, a San Diego program that reduces hotel room rates for homeless people.

One of the winning programs--Racial Integration Incentives of Shaker Heights, Ohio, which offers financial incentives to people who move into racially imbalanced neighborhoods--has been sharply criticized. Robert Harvey, a Cleveland area banker, charged the community planners with attempting to keep down the number of Blacks entering the uptown neighborhood, according to the October issue of Governing magazine.

While many of the programs reaching the finals involved direct humanitarian aid, six of the winners focused on more efficient public service, according to K-School reports. The Computer-Assisted Report Entry system of the St. Louis police, for example, uses computers to reduce the time necessary for filing police reports by 80 percent.

Past winners include projects that fight teenage pregnancy, promote adoption and curb pollution, among others.

Although the three-year Ford grant has now expired, the Foundation says it plans to expand the program into regional competitions while continuing to give national awards.