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Washington, D.C. –-- To encourage innovative government programs in the United States and overseas, the Ford Foundation today announced a $50 million endowment grant to Harvard University ’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The largest single donation the Kennedy School has ever received and the largest single endowment ever made by the Ford Foundation, the grant will establish the Institute for Government Innovation at the Kennedy School.
Joseph S. Nye, Dean of the Kennedy School, said the grant will help invigorate the school ’s central mission of training public leaders and working to resolve public policy problems.
"For too long, our culture has focused excessively on the failures of government, which has helped create a distrust in government," said Nye. " The endowment grant is an investment in public service which is so vital to the nurturing of healthy democracies throughout the world. We hope the institute will help inspire a renewed passion among young people to work in the public sector for the betterment of society as a whole."
The new Institute for Government Innovation will build on the success of the Innovations in American Government program launched in 1986 by the Ford Foundation and administered by the Kennedy School. The program ’s annual awards competition, spotlighting visionary government programs, attracts entries from across the country, with winners earning $100,000.
"Creative solutions for public problems abound in government at all levels. That has been amply demonstrated by the Innovations awards in the United States and is increasingly apparent in other societies around the world," said Susan V. Berresford, president of the Ford Foundation. "The Kennedy School incubated this idea with great success, and this significant support will allow its new institute to make connections and engage others on an international scale."
The Ford Foundation has helped launch similar awards programs in other countries: The Galing Pook Awards in the Philippines; the Public Management and Citizenship Program in Brazil; Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indian Nations in the United States; Impumelelo Innovations Award Programme in South Africa; and the Citizenship and Local Management Program in Chile.
"Innovations winners demonstrate that the people involved in government can be on the leading edge of change," said Gail Christopher, executive director of the Innovations in American Government program.
Since 1986 the Innovations program in the United States has recognized 145 creative government initiatives with grants of $100,000 each, and 135 finalist programs with grants of $20,000 each. Although the program began with a focus on state and local governments, in 1995 it expanded to encompass innovations in the federal government as well.
Innovations winners have included programs for reducing crime, reforming schools, preserving natural resources, improving social services and other successful efforts to tackle a range of public problems.
The Institute for Government Innovation will run the Innovations awards program in the United States and will also serve as the hub for a global network of innovators in the public sector as well as other interested practitioners, students, policy analysts and journalists concerned with the best practices of government. Other institute activities will include conferences and training sessions for public managers, publications, and research fellowships. It will also help forge institutional alliances that can foster innovations in government in many countries.
The Ford Foundation is an independent nonprofit grant making organization. For more than a half century it has been a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide, guided by its goals to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Russia.
The Innovations program is an awards program of the Ford Foundation administered by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government in Washington, D.C.
For more information visit the Innovations Web site at: