Challenge Awards

The 2023 CSAC Challenge Awards entries are officially closed. 

A special thank you to all 2023 participants. We can’t wait to share your innovative programs!


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 for consideration are recommended to have been in operation for at least one year. 
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 carefully. 
  • 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.

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.

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

  1. Sign into your CSAC account or create a new one here.
  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
    *Make sure you are ready to fill out the entire form along with the .pdf file. Do not exit out of the form. Entering and exiting the form will create multiple entries. If you upload the wrong file, continue to submit and email Administrative and Meetings Assistant Kate B. Poblete at: [email protected] to replace and edit your file.

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
  • Include 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 to the materials with your submission.
There is a cost of $100.00 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 $300. All payments for Challenge Awards must be submitted by September 1, 2023. 
You can choose to pay now or receive an invoice using the "pay later" option. 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 about the entry process and Member Portal should go to Administrative and Meetings Assistant Kate B. Poblete at: [email protected]

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 11:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time on September 1, 2023 to be considered. Mailed, faxed or emailed entries will not be accepted.

Award Information

  • Challenge Awards may be given in each issue category:  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 population or issue area criteria. 
  • In the event that an award is given to a multi-county program, each county will receive an award.
  • Award winners will be notified by email upon completion of judging.
  • Questions about the entry process and Member Portal should go to Administrative and Meetings Assistant Kate B. Poblete at: [email protected]
  • To see previous award-winning programs, click here.