Announcing 2023 Achievement Award Winners

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Key Takeaways

NACo is pleased to announce the winners for the 2023 Achievement Awards. Explore the Best in Category winners below.

The 2024 NACo Achievement Awards Application process opens November 20, 2023.

All 2023 winners are available in our searchable awards database. Through the database, winning programs dating back to 2009 are searchable by year, category and state.


Best in Category Winners


In 2022, Fulton County’s Department of Arts and Culture developed a cost-effective concept mirrored by no other county which introduced fashion, arts, culture, and education (F.A.C.E) to Fulton County residents. F.A.C.E has a layered approach with a part of the focus on preparing high school students with knowledge needed to develop career paths in the arts and fashion industry. In addition, the brilliance of F.A.C.E operated on a budget of under $40,000 during a forty-day cycle in which the program showcased informative panel discussions and events throughout Fulton County designed to combat deficiencies in talent, unnecessary textile waste, and a lack of diversity/inclusion. With the evolution of F.A.C.E, non-profit agencies and other non-governmental entities with resources connected residents in need to invaluable services. The implementation of this initiative promises to have long-term sustainable impact on Fulton County residents.



Palm Beach County Youth Services Department, in partnership with United Way of Palm Beach County’s Mentor Center and Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, launched the Enhanced Mentoring Engagement program in 2021. It is known to the community as the Level Up program. Level Up offers mentoring opportunities for teens ages 11 to 19 years old who are directly involved with or at risk of entering the juvenile justice or dependency systems. The goal of the program is to match the teens with a long-term, positive role model, make referrals to community-based services, and provide opportunities to continue education or career exploration. Three hubs have been planted across Palm Beach County to serve teens in the northern, central, and southern areas of the county. These hubs have supported 273 youth directly involved with or at-risk of entering the juvenile justice and/or dependency systems and provided supports to reduce recidivism, gain better access to community resources, further their education or career, and enhance social and emotional well-being. Research shows that students who participate in mentor relationships miss fewer school days, are less likely to participate in negative behaviors and more likely to graduate on time.



To promote transparency, increase participation, and combat misinformation, six elected officials and a team of elections and communications professionals formed the “2022 Elections Command Center” to serve as a central hub of information for the weeks leading up to and following the Nov. 8 General Election. The Command Center was inspired by the Joint Information Center (JIC) model used in emergency management situations that centralizes communication efforts to better inform the public and respond to requests for information. In three months of operation, the Elections Command Center held 16 press conferences, coordinated more than 600 reporter interviews, and responded to the needs of more than 500 credentialed local, national, and international media outlets.


The Landlord Engagement Unit (LEU) connects individuals/families exiting homelessness and seeking affordable housing units with landlords seeking tenants. Our mission is: • Increase affordable housing accessibility through relationships with housing/homeless service providers • Create/manage a comprehensive database of affordable, available homes • Coordinate tenant relocation efforts when properties displace low-income residents through community partnerships • Generate program/system-level performance insights through data analysis and best practice research. The LEU’s team of eight staff with 80+ years of combined property and case management expertise partnered with Wake County’s Information Services department to develop the Lease2Home app. This custom-built app was developed in-house using Microsoft’s low-code Power Platform for rapid application development. Lease2Home enables real-time client-to-unit matching based on client housing needs, wants, barriers, unit features, and landlord requirements. Lease2Home is reinforced with robust, analytical Power BI reporting and has saved upwards of $200,000 since we did not have to purchase an outside solution. Lease2Home generates critical insights into program performance and areas for improvement. The following are targets for its first three years of operation: • Add 300 affordable units to the database • Add 50 new landlords to the program • Generate 50 signed leases from Housing leads


The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the lives of many Los Angeles County (County) residents. To date, roughly 1.2 million County residents contracted COVID-19 and over 24,000 have died. COVID-19 also devastated the County’s economy and the quality of life for millions of our residents. This impact was felt most profoundly in our County’s low-income communities and communities of color, which experienced the highest rates of infection and death. The disproportionate health and economic impacts of COVID-19 underscored the vulnerability of our County residents who are people of color, women, younger workers and workers overall. There is an imperative opportunity to transform the lives of millions of County residents by centering equity, harm reduction, and providing proportional resources to address the needs of our residents and communities. Earlier this year, President Biden announced the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) to provide local communities with much-needed resources to address the great harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The County will benefit significantly from the $1.9 billion in ARP funds it is estimated to receive, as well as other ARP allocations in program-specific areas such as emergency response funding. This is an opportunity to make strides to reduce the negative burdens disproportionately borne by people of color, women, younger adults and working class Angelenos.


Dakota County, in conjunction with the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, has reintroduced the plains bison to the prairie in Spring Lake Park Reserve in an effort to restore one of the prime drivers of this ecosystem: grazing. The bison’s physical and behavioral traits had profound impacts on the prairie. A keystone animal, bison impact their world by focusing their grazing on grasses, giving flowers the ability to compete, and diversifying the plant species and the physical structure of the prairie. During the planning phase of the project, the Natural Resource staff compiled pre-treatment data on plants, bumblebees, breeding birds, small mammals and moths and butterflies. Surveys will continue for years in the effort to ascertain the impact that the bison have on the prairie that they are living in.


The Tap In Center is a unique collaborative project to provide free legal assistance and connect justice-involved individuals with local support services. The Tap In Center offers an approachable environment for clients with warrants and other legal issues to quickly get back in good standing with the courts without fear of arrest or paying a fine. Justice-involved individuals often face many barriers when accessing the courts such as lack of transportation, legal fees, and conflicts with taking time off work and child care schedules to appear. The Tap In Center seeks to mitigate these barriers. Since the Tap In Center started in September 2020, they have served 780 individuals and facilitated 593 bench warrant recalls at the felony, misdemeanor, and ordinance violation levels. Over 85% of participants who had a warrant recalled have not returned to jail during this two-year period. The Tap In Center is directly keeping people out of pre-trial detention and providing relief for families and communities, particularly communities of color, and injecting much-needed humanity into the justice system.


The Risk Evaluation and Consulting Division (REC) of the Travis County Auditor’s Office is tasked with auditing the internal controls and financial records of each department in the County. The audits performed include statutory, risk-based internal controls, and information systems audits. The County’s operating environment and services are becoming increasingly sophisticated as more regulations are introduced without the necessary funding sources to facilitate compliance efforts. As innovative auditing techniques are being developed, internal audit groups can improve their effectiveness by increasing their audit coverage. This can be achieved by implementing continuous auditing and monitoring techniques to detect exceptions in real-time and allow auditors to review entire populations, rather than sampling. REC is required to audit property tax refunds issued by the Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office throughout the year. On average, the volume of these property tax refunds has been increasing by 25% annually since 2018. The review process for these refunds requires significant resources, and the increasing volume of refunds has stretched REC’s resources. To meet this challenge, advanced analytics and automation processes were implemented to reduce the number of auditing hours required for this audit by as much as 91%.



For several decades, Guilford County’s infant mortality rate has remained higher than the state and national rates. Led by staff of the Guilford County Department of Health & Human Services, Division of Public Health (GCDHHS-DPH), a radically inclusive collective action movement called Every Baby Guilford (EBG) was launched in June 2021 to disrupt these long-standing racial disparities in Guilford County. Collective action is a community-led process that builds collaborative solutions by centering and working with the community for advancing equity and achieving social change. Through a community-driven process, the bold goal to reduce infant mortality disparities by 50% by 2026, and eliminating them by 2031 was announced at the launch of this movement.

  • Increasing the number of pregnant persons that receive prenatal care before the 2nd trimester
  • Increasing the number of healthy births by reducing the number of preterm and low birthweight births in Black infants
  • Increase the number of Guilford Babies who make it to their first birthday by reducing infant mortality



Family Resource Centers (FRCs) of Scott County are one-stop shops helping families connect with needed services and supports to reduce family stress. The FRCs are leveraging partnerships with public, private, non-profit, and faith organizations to come together to help children and their families thrive. Programming is built upon the Strengthening Families 5 Protective Factors framework and is designed to be responsive to the unique needs of individuals and communities. There are three FRC sites across Scott County: One FRC is co-located within the Savage, MN library, another FRC is co-located in the Jordan Area Food Shelf, and the third FRC is an independent site in Shakopee, MN. Services provided range from parenting education, peer recovery, support groups including restorative circles for our East African and Latinx communities and a father's group, mental health supports, etc. This work represents the best in partnerships between government, non-profit providers and faith communities. Currently, there are over two dozen partners coming together to provide FRC services. At the core, FRCs are developed with, by and for community members. The FRCs of Scott County are governed by a Parent Advisory Council (PAC), which is comprised of Scott County parents that have a variety of lived expertise. The PAC provides the foundation to ensure that overtime FRCs continue to meet the unique and changing needs of families and communities, while also providing leadership opportunities for individuals with lived expertise.


The Public Safety Assessment (PSA) is an actuarial pretrial assessment that predicts the likelihood of: Failure to Appear in court pretrial (FTA) New Criminal Arrest while on pretrial release (NCA) New Violent Criminal Arrest while on pretrial release (NVCA) The PSA generates scaled scores of 1 to 6 for FTA and NCA and generates a flag to indicate whether a person presents an elevated likelihood of NVCA. When used responsibly and with fidelity, the PSA promotes transparency and consistency and supports improved pretrial outcomes. Assessing released people’s three outcomes allows jurisdictions to calculate aggregated performance measures for their monthly or annual pretrial reports and to collect data for the statistical analyses used to validate the PSA for the local population. Integration: Criminal Justice Information Systems (current charges, open cases, closed cases, booking/inmate information, local criminal priors, and failure to appear. Automated Arrest Forms (A-Forms) Mugshots Azure Active Directory (single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, B2B, employees and external users) Benefits: Treating everyone with dignity and respect. Generating equitable outcomes for all people, eliminating racial, ethnic, gender, and economic disparities. Implementing services that meet people’s needs while also prioritizing the safety of victims and the community. Reducing the work process of criminal background investigation. Reducing jail population.


The Salt Lake County Library has two branches located in Salt Lake County Jail facilities, with a staff of 6.25 FTE serving the roughly 2,000 daily residents of the Jail. The library houses a collection of 45,000 items, offers customized book checkouts to each individual, provides reference, and offers monthly self-directed programming. The library participates in the Jail’s Life Skills program, offering six hours of classes to help incarcerated individuals become familiar with resources that can help them be more successful post-incarceration. In the class, library staff ensure participants have a library card that is cleared of fines or fees and understand resources that are available at branches. They are encouraged to share information about the library with family members to further increase their familiarity with the library’s resources, but also to increase the individual’s likelihood of success after Jail. The library shares case studies of others who have had success after being released, and teach neurographic art as a coping and reflecting skill. Library staff also connect with new Jail officers to teach them about the library, why the library is a key partner at the Jail, and why the library benefits them in addition to those incarcerated.



Montgomery County Recreation’s Holiday Park Senior Center Outdoor Fitness Area innovatively provides adults, ages 55 years and older, access to outside fitness equipment. The workout area is the first outdoor fitness space in the region that is expressly geared to the needs of older adults. Many seniors were apprehensive to return to an indoor setting after the COVID-19 shutdown; the outside workout area made it possible to exercise and social distance. The outdoor area is available for seniors to work out anytime, including outside of the Senior Center hours.



The Saratoga County Department of Employment and Training launched the EMT Career Pathway for Youth Pilot Program in June 2022. Born out of the need for current and future first responders, the program is designed to be the first step in a lifelong dedication to public service and greater medical careers for participants. The County created a community-based collaboration to provide students the structure and supports needed for success, partnering with the Town of Clifton Park, Clifton Park-Halfmoon EMS, Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC), and Shenendehowa High School (Shen). Students from Shen in Clifton Park enrolled at Hudson Valley Community College and began their training at the HVCC TEC-SMART campus in Malta. The program encompassed 140 hours of instruction and practical lab time in addition to 10 patient ride-alongs with Clifton Park-Halfmoon EMS. At completion, they earned seven college credits. The successful program saw a 100% graduation rate and was recognized by the New York State School Board Association as a Champions of Change. Today there are six new EMTs in Saratoga County. Saratoga County is expanding this program to 18 students in 2023.



James City County has experienced significant population growth in recent decades and has faced the question of how the County should plan for anticipated growth while balancing the community’s desire to stay connected to its rural roots and maintain its community character. During its most recent Comprehensive Plan update process, community leaders, including the Board of Supervisors, noted the importance of focusing on this question, and worked with County staff to identify a scope of work for the Comprehensive Plan update designed to provide a greater level of information about the implications of alternative visions for growth in the County, and through scenario planning and computer modeling, to express in a quantitative way what those alternatives might mean for various aspects of life in the County. As the update process proceeded, the information from the scenarios and modeling results was shared with citizens to allow for the community’s feedback to help inform the Board of Supervisors as it considered policy choices. The momentum created from an engaged citizenry and the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan has since served as the catalyst for the accomplishment of several significant implementation projects that reflect the vision of the community.




In rural, forested Nevada County, 92% of the nearly 100,000 residents live in high to very high fire hazard severity zones. Fire prevention experts, local government leaders, and the public at large agree that one of the most significant threats to human life is the need to safely evacuate during a wildfire. The major barrier to safe evacuations stems from the abundance of flammable vegetation on private lands and along private roadways. Private properties have historically been a missing piece to this wildfire preparation and evacuation puzzle. The “Firewise Communities Microgrant Program” was designed to address reducing the fuel load to improve evacuation safety. Funded with a $100,000 grant from a local community foundation, the County established the Firewise Communities Microgrant Program, which made 26 grants of $3,600 each to recognized Firewise Communities. Eligible projects to reduce wildfire risk included increasing defensible space around homes, removing hazardous vegetation from private lands, and clearing evacuation routes on private roadways. This program is the first of its kind for Firewise Communities. Nevada County has the most recognized Firewise Communities for any county in the nation. This program was able to leverage these communities’ volunteerism for maximum impact. This ultimately created a more wildfire resilient landscape that will save lives and property.




In 2022, Howard County completed a transformative complete streets transportation project on Oakland Mills Road with a bold conversion to a street that prioritized safety over speed and properly accommodated cyclists and pedestrians. Community outreach was a major aspect of this project from beginning to end, resulting in an outcome that directly reflected the community's needs and a smooth transition to roadway operations on the new layout.




The global pandemic revealed a significant gap in food security for Gwinnett County, one of the nation’s fastest growing and most diverse counties, with just over 957,000 residents. As a response, in April 2020, Volunteer Gwinnett, a section of Gwinnett County Government located in Lawrenceville, Georgia, deployed a weekly mobile food strategy to address food security needs. Partnerships began with local community organizations, places of worship, and civic locations alongside the Atlanta Community Food Bank to deploy 40 to 50 pounds of produce and shelf-stable items weekly to our residents. Utilizing external and internal partners and a resilient volunteer base to achieve program goals, over 1,575,283 pounds of food items have been received in the Gwinnett community. This includes 19,417 hygiene/personal care items, 21,095 pounds of pet food, and over 28,444 hours dedicated solely to the Mobile Food Distribution Program. Over the past three years, our initiative to address community food security has dramatically evolved. With over 195 community partners, we’ve reached 49,727 households; and our mobile community market has expanded to include everything from car seat installations to free flu/COVID vaccinations and HIV testing to early learning book distributions for families.

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