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Humphrey School honors cities, counties and schools with innovation awards

Winners of the 2013 awards are: Monroe Elementary in Brooklyn Park, the City of Madelia and Carlton County.

Innovation in local Minnesota government is recognized and honored each year by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

This year’s top winners of the 2013 Local Government Innovation Awards are:

  • Monroe Elementary, Brooklyn Park
  • City of Madelia
  • Carlton County

The Humphrey School, working with the Bush Foundation and three co-sponsors — the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota School Board Association — picks the winners based on creativity and effectiveness in redesigning how they do business.

Here’s what they said about the three top winners:

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Monroe Elementary developed GEARS (Getting Excellent Academic Results for all Students) Time, a scheduled block that allows teachers at each grade level to collaborate on providing intervention, remediation and enrichment support to all students, based on academic need. It helped develop creative, new ways to support students’ success that also increases one-on-one time between teachers and students. The school has experienced improved performance on students’ standardized test results and a smaller achievement gap between white students and students of color. 

To satisfy an order by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to decommission wastewater treatment ponds, the City of Madelia transformed them into a natural habitat for pheasants, water fowl, and deer that is also accessible to people with disabilities. The project saved the city $1.5 million, employed local contractors and distributed biosolids removed from the ponds to nearby farmers for use as fertilizer. After planting prairie forbs and grass seed in the old ponds, the city also installed handicap ramps along each pond’s perimeter, making the new recreation area accessible to everyone.
Carlton County‘s TXT4Life Suicide Prevention program reaches youth in ways they communicate most, through text messaging. The program covers northeast Minnesota including seven counties and four tribal nations — a geographic area that represents 6 percent of the state’s population but consistently reports the highest suicide rates. Marketing and outreach are key components; prior to the text program, the suicide line received 25 calls each month from youth and it now receives more than 300.

Other winning programs this year are:


  • Hiawatha Academies, Minneapolis
  • Hawthorne Education Center, Rochester: Transitions to College and Career Program
  • Cannon River STEM School, Faribault: Supporting the Village to Raise Children
  • Waconia Public Schools, Waconia: MLK—A Day On, Not a Day Off
  • ACGS Schools, Grove City: Elementary Reimagined


  • Crookston: Crookston Homestead Act
  • Cities Unlimited: A Partnership between Coon Rapids and Brooklyn Park
  • Albert Lea: Process Improvement Teams (PIT Crews)
  • City of Minneapolis: Minneapolis Mattress Recycling
  • Morris: Morris Rental Housing Commission


  • Hennepin County: Hennepin Health
  • Anoka County: Enhanced Treatment Program
  • Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard and Lake of the Woods counties Collaborative: Mental Health CrisisTransportation
  • Ramsey, Dakota and Washington counties: Mental Health Crisis Alliance
  • Southwest Health and Human Services: Redesigning Local Public Health and Human Services

All the winners will be honored at a Dec. 12 awards ceremony at the Humphrey School.