Six National Ideas Challenge Winners Announced

State and local leaders recognized for top proposals on education and training, entrepreneurship, social safety net, and other key issues to improve economy and quality of life. 

Washington, DC – Today NewDEAL announced the winners of the 2017 New Ideas Challenge – a competition among rising and innovative state and local policymakers to propose the best ideas for expanding opportunity and improving government in the new economy.  Of fifty proposals submitted, an esteemed and diverse panel of judges selected the following six winners in their respective categories: 

The Future of Workforce: Community College Gap Assistance – Senator Kate Bolz, Lincoln, NE

The Future of BusinessBankLocal – General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island

 The Future of CommunitiesKids’ Home Run – Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, W. Sacramento, CA

The Future of Govt: Denver: An Entrepreneurial City – Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, CO

The Future of Families: Portable Benefits: Supporting Workers in the Gig Economy  – Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Mount Laurel, NJ

The Future of Rural America Statewide Imagination Library Partnership – Representative Clarke Tucker, Little Rock, AR

“NewDEAL Leaders are charting a course for communities across the country with forward-looking solutions to our challenges that embrace the keys to prosperity in the 21st century, rather than trying to turn back the clock to the way America used to be,” said NewDEAL Executive Director Debbie Cox Bultan. “Our winners have developed some of the most innovative ideas for making the new economy and our government work for everyone and their work provides a blueprint for those who want to rise above the partisan fray to move the nation in the right direction.”

In its third edition, this year’s Challenge seeks to identify effective ways to address profound anxieties resulting from a new economy that has left many Americans behind. The Challenge is open to the 155 members of the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), an organization chaired by U.S. Senator Mark Warner and former Delaware Governor Jack Markell to support state and local pro-growth progressive elected officials through the exchange of ideas and engagement with other top public, private, and non-profit sector officials.

“We need to rapidly replace 20th century approaches and government policies with new, 21st century policy approaches to make sure we are prepared for the future," said Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04), Chair of the New Democrat Coalition. "The proposals from the New Ideas Challenge present unique and innovative solutions that government can explore to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to succeed in the new economy. I look forward to seeing the progress made on these initiatives to meet the evolving needs of citizens while spurring entrepreneurship and strengthening communities nationwide.” 

Submissions to the New Ideas Challenge were evaluated by eight judges:

Ami Bera, Congressman (CA-07)

Emily Cain, Executive Director, EMILY’’s List

Jim Kessler, Senior VP for Policy, Third Way

Bruce Reed, Co-chair of Aspen Future of Work Initiative & former Chief of Staff to VP Biden

Mark Riddle, President, New Leaders Council

Joe Sanberg, Founder & CEO,, and Founder of CalEITC4Me

Neera Tanden, President & CEO, Center for American Progress

Leena Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner

2017 New Ideas Challenge Winners

Nebraska Senator Kate Bolz’s Community College Gap Assistance proposal won in the “Future of Workforce” category, which includes ideas that provide better access to the high-quality education and training required for workers to excel in the new economy. Her program provides financial aid to lower-income students taking non-credit courses to work in competitive industries that face workforce shortages, addressing the fact that no federal aid exists for the non-credit community college courses and skills certificates supported by this initiative.

Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner’s BankLocal program won in the “Future of Business” category, which includes ideas that spur innovation and entrepreneurship. Through BankLocal, Magaziner is making millions of dollars available to local banks and credit unions for small business loans, using some of the millions of dollars state agencies hold in cash at any given time. This effort is especially important at a time when capital has become increasingly difficult to come by for small businesses and startups, which are crucial for job creation. 

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon’s Kids’ Home Run program won in the “Future of Communities” category, which includes ideas that strengthen communities and recognize that everyone benefits when more people have the best chance to contribute positively. The effort begins with universal preschool, and then provides: seed funding for college savings accounts when kids enter kindergarten; paid internships in relevant industry sectors or jobs types for high school students; college and career pathways; digital badges for community service and achievements; free community college; and the chance to earn scholarships up to $1,000.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator (GELA) fellowship won in the “Future of Government” category, which includes ideas that adapt government programs and services to meet the evolving needs of citizens and operate as effectively as possible in the new economy. The fellowship explores a new model of governmental problem solving and leadership development, beginning with a boot camp, followed by six weeks of work on difficult city problems, from bridging the digital divide to addressing overdoses from the opioid epidemic. The effort recognizes that policymakers today must take advantage of these forces to adapt government programs and services to meet the evolving needs of citizens and operate as effectively as possible.

New Jersey Assemblyman Troy Singleton’s portable benefits ideas to support workers in the gig economy won in the “Future of Families” category, which includes programs that improve access to safety net and other programs that are critical for supporting healthy and secure families in the new economy. Singleton’s legislation would allow independent workers in temporary, contract and on-demand jobs to access health insurance, retirement savings and other essential benefits, recognizing that the prevalence of independent contractor opportunities relative to traditional work has grown in the new economy.

Arkansas Representative Clarke Tucker’s Statewide Imagination Library Partnership won in the “Future of Rural America” category, which includes ideas that address challenges that have become particularly acute in rural communities. His program addresses the lack of high quality early childhood education and access to books in rural communities by providing all children in the state with a total of 60 books over the first five years of their lives, sending one age appropriate book per month for $1.10/book.

Original Article