Challenge Awards

The 2021 CSAC Challenge Awards are officially open! 
These unique awards recognize the innovative and creative spirit of our California Counties as they find new, effective and cost-saving ways to provide programs and services to their citizens. This is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight your county’s best practices while recognizing staff for developing innovations in county government!

Entry Deadline: Midnight on Friday, September 10, 2021
Before applying, please review all the tabs below for additional resources, assistance, and information. We have also created a ‘how to’ video on how to enter a program for the Challenge Awards.

 

Please see all eligibility requirements for submitting challenge awards: 

  1. Only programs that are developed, managed or funded by a county department or agency are eligible. Entries must be submitted by a county. Multi-county programs are eligible. Court-related programs must be coordinated or funded by a county.
  2. An entry can only be submitted in one category; if a program is inter-departmental, please mark the category that best reflects the nature of that program.
  3. Programs that have previously received a Challenge Award cannot be entered again. 
  4. Programs that have previously received a Merit Award are eligible and can be entered again.
All participants must select both a specific issue area and population category for their program. (CSAC reserves the right to move an entry to a different category.) 
Issue Areas
Issue categories reflect the main priorities across CSAC’s platforms and policy areas. One issue area must be selected in the entry form, please choose appropriately. 
  • Administration of Justice & Public Safety – Includes programs associated with local law enforcement and public safety, adult and juvenile detention, and probation.
  • Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources – Includes programs associated with agriculture, the environment, air quality, water, flood control, energy, parks and recreation, public lands, forestry, mining, endangered species, solid waste, and hazardous waste.
  • Government Finance, Administration & Technology – Includes programs associated with internal operations, employee training and wellness, workers’ compensation, public records, technology, economic development, libraries, elections, and food safety.
  • Health & Human Services – Includes programs associated with health care, mental health, homelessness, foster care, child welfare services, adult protective services, IHSS, general assistance, aging, CalWORKs, First 5 programs, county hospitals/medical facilities, the indigent, and veterans.
  • Housing, Land Use & Infrastructure – Includes programs associated with housing, land use, growth, planning, transportation, infrastructure, and tribal gaming issues.
  • Disaster/Emergency Response & Management – Includes any programs or services developed in response to recent disasters that have struck California Counties, such as wildfires, public power safety shutoffs or the COVID-19 pandemic.

Population
Population categories reflect the three caucuses within CSAC: Rural, Suburban and Urban Counties. Please check the correct population category for your county in the entry form.

  • Rural – Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Plumas, San Benito, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yuba.
  • Suburban – Butte, Imperial, Kern, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Placer, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare, Yolo.
  • Urban – Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Ventura.

Application
Entries will only be accepted through online submission through this Member Portal. Follow the steps below to enter:

  1. Sign-in to your CSAC account or create a new one
  2. Select Entry under Challenge Awards from the top menu bar
  3. Fill out the Entry Form
    * You must fill out all items in the application including selecting one issue category and one population category
For additional information checkout the How-to video. 

Executive Summary
The Executive Summary is a critical part of your entry and explains the challenge your program addressed and how it was successful. The Executive Summary must be attached to the application and contain:

  • No more than 2 pages (sized 8.5” x 11”);
  • Text that must be double-spaced and no smaller than size 11; AND
  • Have contact information

To see last year’s Executive Summaries for award-winning programs, click here
In reviewing your Executive Summary, judges will base their ratings on the following areas:

  • Overview – Provide a brief, 25-word summary of your program or project.
  • Challenge – Describe the challenge your county faced and the process used to address it. Explain the unique or critical factors that led to this project.
  • Solution – Describe the innovative steps taken by the county to solve the problem or overcome the challenge outlined above.
  • Innovation – Describe how this program is innovative among California Counties. Show how your solution demonstrates creativity, uniqueness and an innovative spirit.
  • Results – Describe the results of the program/project. Discuss how the program or project has positively impacted the community, improved delivery of services to the public, or improved administration of a program internally.
  • Replicability – Describe how your program can potentially be replicated by other California Counties. Can your program by promoted as a best practice that can be utilized by others?
  • Project or Program Contact – List the name, title, mailing address, phone and email address of the person who can be contacted about this program.
  • Additional Materials – If your project involved the development of a video, graphic design or PowerPoint, please include a link with your submission.
Payment 
There is a cost of $75.00 per entry. You can choose to pay by credit card or check. For example, if you submit three entries/programs, the total cost would be $225. All payments for Challenge Awards must be submitted by October 30, 2021. 
You can choose to pay now or pay later. If you pay later, you will be notified when payments are due. After submitting an entry, you will receive a confirmation email and you can view all entries under  ‘My Entries’ on the main Challenge Awards page. 
Questions
  • General questions about the Challenge Awards should be directed to Senior Manager of Public Affairs Jenny Tan at: jtan@counties.org
  • Questions about the entry process and Member Portal should go to CSAC Institute Program Administrative Assistant Olviya Vataman at: ovataman@counties.org

A panel of county and private sector officials will evaluate the entries. Judges’ decisions are final. The following criteria will be used to select the award-winning programs:

  • Does the Executive Summary clearly state the challenge and solution?
  • Does the program showcase innovation, resourcefulness, vision and uniqueness?
  • Has the program enhanced the community and/or organization? What are the results?
  • Is the program replicable and how easy would it be?
  • Does the entry conform to the application instructions in the “Entry Instructions” section?
All entries must be submitted online through the Member Portal by midnight on September 10, 2021 to be considered. Mailed, faxed or emailed entries will not be accepted.
 

Award Information

  • Two levels of awards may be given in each issue category: Challenge and Merit Awards. Challenge Awards are given to programs that exemplify the innovation and creative spirt of counties. 
  • All programs that are selected for a Challenge Award will be considered for a special honor at the judges’ discretion, called Innovation Awards. These awards will not be subject to the population or issue criteria. 
  • In the event that an award is given to a multi-county program, each county will receive an award.
  • Award-winning recipients will be notified by email upon completion of judging.
Questions 
  • General questions about the Challenge Awards should be directed to Senior Manager of Public Affairs Jenny Tan at: jtan@counties.org
  • Questions about the entry process and Member Portal should go to CSAC Institute Program Administrative Assistant Olviya Vataman at: ovataman@counties.org
  • To see previous award-winning programs, click here .