Harvard University has recognized two Kansas City initiatives as semifinalists in the school’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition.
Led by the City of Kansas City, Mo., the Community Improvement District Revolving Loan Fund and Women’s Empowerment initiative both are among 100 programs vying for a shot to become finalists and the $100,000 grand prize.
“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing,” Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, said in a release. “Small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”
The two programs beat out more than 500 other applicants from 50 states as examples of “effective actions whose work has had significant impact,” and can be replicated around the world, the city said in a release.
The Women’s Empowerment program is a collaboration between the Mayor Sly James’ office, Central Exchange, the Women’s Foundation and the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Women’s Center. It aims to ensure that Kansas City is an inclusive, diverse and supportive of women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs.
About half of Kansas City’s Zip+4 zones were considered economically distressed in 2011 when the city began its CID fund, the city said. The fund partners with a neighborhood to provide resources and support to make changes that change its landscape for the better. Instead of relying on third parties to make neighborhood improvements, the CID fund provides citizens with essential resources, while focusing on opportunities leaders can identify and solve. As part of the effort, the city created tools to assist organizations in the formation of their CIDs and managing expenses throughout their work.
The competition expects to announce 10 programs as finalists in March, with the grand prize winners to be named in June.