Announcing 2022 Achievement Award Winners

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    Announcing 2022 Achievement Award Winners

    NACo is pleased to announce the winners for the 2022 Achievement Awards. Explore the Best in Category winners below. All winners are available in our searchable awards database, where winning programs are searchable by year, category and state dating back to 2009.

    • Explore the Full Awards Database
    NACo is pleased to announce the winners for the 2022 Achievement Awards.
NACo is pleased to announce the winners for the 2022 Achievement Awards

NACo is pleased to announce the winners for the 2022 Achievement Awards. Explore the Best in Category winners below. All winners are available in our searchable awards database, where winning programs are searchable by year, category and state dating back to 2009.

Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation
Catawba County, N.C.

The Catawba County Library worked with the Hmong community, the Historical Association and Digital Heritage NC to collect, curate, and preserve a digital collection of the twentieth-century history of Hmong migration and community-building within the region. Hmong individuals and families were invited to share their experiences, cultural heritage and artifacts, allowing the library to preserve them and make them accessible online for everyone including future generations. Hmong Keeb Kwm: Hmong Heritage included several cultural events, sharing and celebrating the traditional music, food, dance, and literature of the Hmong culture. This project helped the library strengthen and build community through collaboration and partnerships with the Hmong citizens and other organizing institutions. It provided a platform for the library to deliver high-quality, lifelong learning opportunities that support growth for diverse community populations. It demonstrated respect for the Hmong culture and promoted awareness and understanding through the collected items and cultural programs. The Historical Association was able to increase the authentic representation of a previously underrepresented segment of our population and able to better document Hmong migration for use in future exhibitions and programming.

Children and Youth
Boulder County, Colo.

The Young Leaders Academy (YLA) was developed by Workforce Boulder County (WFBC) and Community Action Programs (CAP) to cultivate BIPOC future leaders and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds. YLA creates a pipeline of diverse talent to a variety of sectors across Boulder County while having positive future economic implications, and academic, and health-related outcomes for its BIPOC youth participants.

Civic Education and Public Information
Chesterfield County, Va.

Chesterfield County Communications and Media, in partnership with the county’s Mental Health Support Services, worked with the Youth Services Board (YCB), a group of high schoolers appointed by the county’s Board of Supervisors, to craft a highly successful mental health social media campaign – “Mental Health Is A Puzzle, But We Have The Missing Piece” – targeting teens and parents. The purpose of the YCB is to advise the Board on issues relating to youth and provide opportunities for community input on youth issues in Chesterfield. After more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the YCB members noticed many of their classmates were struggling with their mental health and wanted to find a way to gain more awareness around the topic. The goal of the campaign was to engage with more Chesterfield residents and talk about the importance of addressing their mental health. The campaign achieved much success and was the first of its kind in the region. It had a profound impact on Chesterfield because it put into perspective the pulse of mental health for local children and parents and allowed YCB members to become mental health advocates for their fellow peers and give the county and region a platform to talk about it.

Community and Economic Development
Harford County, Md.

The Grove at Harford was founded as an outlet for farmers, artists, and food processors in Harford County to sell their products directly to local consumers and to promote local agriculture commerce and sustainability. Billed as “Harford County’s agribusiness incubator,” the Grove is an open-air building with eight interior stalls, with two kiosks and exterior stands available, each leased to a local agricultural entrepreneur with varying handcrafted products and specialties. The creation of The Grove at Harford was a collaboration between numerous Harford County departments – Administration, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Facilities and Operations, and Parks and Recreation – to fill the need for a local marketplace and to give vendors a centralized, direct connection to customers in a rural part of the county. The Grove also serves as an event space for festivals, farmers markets, and more, functioning as a gathering place for county residents to enjoy food, entertainment, and to support local business. After construction is completed in 2022 on a playground, pavilion, and trail system, the Grove location will complete its transformation into an agricultural destination for all Harford County families to enjoy.

County Administration and Management
Clark County, Nev.

Air quality permitting for mineral processing operations requires an evaluation of the potential to emit regulated air pollutants to the atmosphere. Air pollutants are emitted from a multitude of equipment and activities. Given the unique configuration of each processing plant and varying numerical factors used to calculate potential air emissions, maintaining accurate and consistent methodologies across all permitted operators creates significant challenges for a regulatory agency. Additionally, the complex nature of emissions calculations for mineral processing operations often results in confusion and errors on the part of permit applicants. Conventional practices include preparing applications based on overly simplified calculations, which can misrepresent potential emissions, or highly tailored calculations, which can conflict with the county's standard practices and result in inconsistent treatment across its customers. The development of an online application tool that incorporates acceptable methodologies and provides a platform to select from dropdown menus and perform calculations automatically has proven useful to everyone involved. Benefits include reducing the time and effort associated with preparing and processing applications, and meeting the county's minimal standards upon submittal.

County Resiliency
Santa Barbara County, Calif.

In 2007, Santa Barbara County sought to change how it managed solid waste by using new technologies and new facilities that would address California's climate change mandates and decrease the landfilling of waste. Santa Barbara has historically shown innovative leadership in environmental policy, and this tradition continues with the ReSource Center. The ReSource Center is the first operation in California to house a materials recovery facility, anaerobic digestion facility, compost management unit, and landfill all at one location. This comprehensive project recovers recyclable materials, transforms organics into landscape nutrients, and creates renewable energy. With these new facilities, approximately 60% of additional waste from the community's trash cans is diverted from the landfill, bringing the region's diversion rate above 85% while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The project required over a decade of skillful coordination of regional interests, a comprehensive public outreach plan, a thorough environmental review process, and public financing for Santa Barbara County's largest single capital project to date.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Saline County, Kan.

The program, UPTrust, was developed to increase the success of the agency's target population, that being juvenile and adult high risk, high need, substance addicted and mentally ill, offenders; sentenced to supervision with the 28th Judicial District Community Corrections. Instant notification/contact with all clients and their families assists clients in their efforts to attend all court ordered hearings, treatment, services, supervision needs, and more. Supervision staff is further utilizing this program to send daily encouragements, positive outlooks, and more to provide support to those most in need and often overlooked and underserved. Instant text and email notifications are sent from the supervision staff to the client population on a daily, sometimes, twice, or more daily, to assist the client and their families to attend all required court and services while offering resources, funding, wellness, and more to increase successful completions. Outcomes have shown positive change and result in clients meeting all court hearings and more; avoiding arrest and warrants issued resulting in lock downs in an overcrowded, understaffed jail. The Information Technology program has extended at the expense of Community Corrections, to the Public Defenders and Court Services agencies; again, showing excellent outcomes toward reducing failures to appear.

Financial Management
Palm Beach County, Fla.

Palm Beach County’s Community Services Department (CSD) provides a comprehensive range of programs to assist low-income households with basic needs and remove barriers to self-sufficiency. One program is the Rental Assistance program, where Palm Beach County residents in need (meeting certain income thresholds) can receive assistance to pay their rent. Through the severe economic downturn, CSD has seen the need for this assistance rise sharply and has adapted to this increased need, along with the need to maintain social distancing, by moving to an online-application process through the Online System for Community Access to Resources and Social Services (OSCARSS). Unfortunately with the dramatic increase in applications, CSD has also seen a large increase in fraud attempts, as well as an increase in clients applying through multiple systems in an effort to receive assistance quickly. In order to prevent duplication of benefits, combat fraud and ensure that the limited available funding goes to the residents who truly need it, CSD has implemented a variety of robust quality assurance and fraud mitigation strategies and has prevented improper payments totaling $982,608 as of 3/31/2022.

Summit County, Ohio

The Summit County Opiate Abatement Advisory Council (OAAC) is making innovative and transformative investments to help abate the ongoing opioid epidemic and aid residents affected by substance use disorder (SUD). The OAAC first convened in 2020 and is comprised of experts on the subject as well as individuals with lived experience with SUD. The OAAC is tasked with identifying policies and programs to be funded by the opiate litigation settlement monies received in 2019. The OAAC is guided by an abatement strategy developed by experts and focused on four pillars: (1) treatment, (2) system and infrastructure, (3) harm reduction, and (4) education and evidence-based prevention. To date, the OAAC has provided $7 million in grants and lifesaving medications to local organizations, including every hospital system in the county and over 20 grassroots organizations. As other counties begin receiving settlements from opioid litigation or experience emerging health crises, the OAAC serves as a model for managing funds and prioritizing programs to address community needs.

Human Services
Lassen County, Calif.

The Lassen County Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) in rural Northern California created a Fatherhood Initiative to 1) build trust toward the department amongst non-custodial fathers, 2) provide education about services, and 3) develop a community-wide sense of the value of child support. The multi-pronged, ongoing Fatherhood Initiative includes outreach and education components, and it is flexible and continuously incorporates new information, so that the department can focus on the components that produce the most effective results. Key initiative components include educational and trust-building social media content, interdepartmental and regional ally outreach, network building, national discussion participation, and participant surveys. Though the Fatherhood Initiative is in an early stage, it has already produced positive results. Many Lassen County non-custodial fathers express surprise at their respectful treatment throughout the case process; they report they would have opened cases themselves or would have cooperated earlier had they realized the experience would be pleasant and helpful. We expect more regional fathers to open child support cases and improve parent-child connections. This program is highly replicable, and the Child Support Directors’ Association of California has shared components of the program to help other departments implement their own initiatives.

Information Technology
Miami-Dade County, Fla.

On Thursday, June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:22 a.m. EST, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium in Surfside, partially collapsed. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department responded with more than 80 units to the site. Many local, state, and federal organizations were activated to support the efforts of search and rescue at the incident site. The Geospatial Technologies Division from the Information Technology Department (ITD) formed a team to support the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Incident Site onsite and off-site by developing, maintaining, and supporting geospatial datasets, applications, ad-hoc requests, reports, and maps used by the Mayor’s Office, Incident Management Team (IMT), and other strategic support groups from National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), FEMA, FL-1 & FL-2 rescue teams, MDFR, EOC, MDPD, and DSWM.

Yuma County, Ariz.

The Main Library (a branch of the Yuma County Library District) began developing the Smart Start Kit program to offer children and their caregivers early literacy through take-home interactive kits. This program was designed to help the Library better serve its youth population by exposing children to high-quality early learning. The Library provided a variety of kits with different themes that included books and teaching materials for their caretakers to use community resources. Through participation in this program, the children would have access to high-quality learning experiences rich in language and literacy that would help reduce learning gaps and ensure that children are ready to start reading when they enter kindergarten. Because families are a child's first teachers, it is vital to strengthen their role by providing the necessary tools to succeed academically. The smart Start Kits program was launched in October 2019, and the kits were available for any patron to borrow. The kits contained carefully selected children's books, music, toys, and puzzles that caregivers could use to help profoundly influence literacy and language development, the foundations for all other learning. The varied themes included animals, counting, alphabet, special needs, space, nursery rhymes, transportation, bilingualism, and beginner's science.

Parks and Recreation
Charlotte County, Fla.

Charlotte County Community Services Recreation Division created a special event called Sam and Charlotte’s Super Safari which was a free, family-friendly event for families with persons with disabilities. At the event, families could meet and gather information from local agencies and organizations from across the county so they could learn more about different types of opportunities and resources available in the area. The event included presentations, games and crafts. Sam and Charlotte’s Super Safari took place on May 8, 2021.

Personnel Management, Employment and Training
San Diego County, Calif.

The County of San Diego Deferred Compensation Program provides 457(b) and 401(a) plans to nearly 21,000 current and former employees. As of Jan. 31, 2022, the program had assets of over $2.2 billion. The County created “Investing Learn to Earn virtual event (Learn to Earn)” as a way for people to receive plan information in a simple, engaging way. It was important to create something that would require no explanation, because we’re all weary of having to learn “how to” virtually everything. The primary goal of Learn to Earn was to help participants understand and be comfortable with asset allocation and be able to choose an asset allocation strategy that best suites them. Secondary goals were to drive program awareness, enrollments, and contribution increases. Learn to Earn ran from October 2021 – Jan. 31, 2022, taking visitors to a videogame-style environment to explore and play their way to better financial wellness. The full plan website,, lies beneath the videogame “skin,” providing full functionality for real-world action. Nearly 22% of users with existing accounts increased their contributions, while more than 28% of users who were not previously plan participants enrolled, and 20% of users engaged with our retirement readiness tool.

Union County, N.C.

Over the last 25 years, the population of Union County, North Carolina exploded. At times, Union County was the fastest growing county in North Carolina and among the nation’s fastest. While the percentage growth rate has slowed somewhat in recent years, the raw number of new residents has not. Knowing that growth will continue, the Union County Board of Commissioners set out to establish a 30 year vision of what Union County will be, and turned to a diverse group of residents, business leaders, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders to plot the County’s course.

Risk and Emergency Management
Larimer County, Colo.

The COVID-19 Recovery Outreach Dashboard is an interactive public dashboard that displays the regional outreach performed to hear from the community what COVID-19 related impacts could help guide recovery priorities. This regional outreach was centered around being able to understand from community members how local governments could best spend pandemic recovery funds and make the best decisions to strengthen the community and gather input from those in the community that are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Outagamie County, Wis.

County Trunk Highway (CTH) CA is a principal arterial in south-central Outagamie County, Wisconsin. CTH CA runs east-west through the Village of Greenville and Township of Grand Chute, is the primary connection between the Appleton International Airport and Interstate (IH) 41, and is designated on the National Highway System as an Intermodal Connector route. When originally constructed in 1967 as a divided rural roadway, there was little commercial or residential development along the highway, and it functioned well for many years. Then, in 1984 construction of the Fox River Mall catalyzed major commercial development in the area. Development surged west of IH 41 and north and south of CTH CA resulting in a significant increase in traffic, both vehicular and multimodal. The increased traffic and turning movements at key intersections contributed to operational issues and a measurable reduction in safety. In 2020, the County and its partners took action by establishing a program that led to the complete reconstruction of CTH CA. Outcomes were immense and positive – making previous concerns a thing of the past. The program upgraded regional connectivity, reduced traffic congestion, improved intersection safety, embraced non-vehicular traffic, and allowed the highway to again complement surrounding development patterns.

Salt Lake County, Utah

Salt Lake County Animal Services (SLCoAS) has created a new volunteer program, Hounds Around Town. The program allows our volunteers and fosters to take shelter dogs out on field trips. Field trips can include activities like hiking, walks, car rides, getting puppaccinos (whip cream in a mini cup), grooming, shopping, or going out to lunch. The purpose of this program is to give shelter dogs a short break from the kennels, getting photos and learning more about each dog’s behavior, and getting the community involved in working with our dogs while staying active.