Finalists Announced among Policymakers in National Ideas Challenge

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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 – The NewDEAL announced today finalists in 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. A full list of finalists is below.

Of fifty proposals submitted, an esteemed and diverse panel of judges selected the top three in six categories, covering ideas that:

  • provide better access to the high-quality education and training required for workers to excel in the new economy;
  • spur innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • strengthen communities and recognize that everyone benefits when more people have the best chance to contribute positively;
  • adapt government programs and services to meet the evolving needs of citizens and operate as effectively as possible in the new economy;
  • improve access to safety net and other programs that are critical for supporting healthy and secure families in the new economy; and
  • address challenges that have become particularly acute in rural communities.

Read more about each of the finalists by clicking below.

“In a world being rapidly transformed by the forces of globalization and technological innovation, and where Americans have lost faith in government to solve pressing issues, the New Ideas Challenges shows how a group of innovative state and local officials are rising to the challenge of finding solutions for the new economy,” said NewDEAL Executive Director Debbie Cox Bultan. “These leaders have made proposals that, together, set a governing agenda for the country to follow and for making the economy and government work better for the American people.”

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.

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 Sandberg, Founder & CEO,, an Founder of CalEITC4Me

Neera Tanden, President & CEO, Center for American Progress

Leena Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner

The six winners of the New Ideas Challenge will be announced on Thursday, November 16 at the seventh annual NewDEAL Leaders Conference in Washington.

2017 New Ideas Challenge Finalists:

The Future of Workforce

Community College Gap Assistance – Senator Kate Bolz, Lincoln, NE

Code Louisville – Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville, KY

Empowerment School Zones – Senator Eric Lesser, Longmeadow, MA

The Future of Business

Occupational Licensing Reform – Senator Bob Duff, Norwalk, CT

Resource Innovation Campus – Councilmember Kate Gallego, Phoenix, AZ

BankLocal – General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island

The Future of Communities

Rapid Assessment and Support Services Diversion – District Attorney Charles Branson, Douglas County, KS

Kids’ Home Run – Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, West Sacramento, CA

Collective Impact on Homelessness – Mayor Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County, UT

The Future of Government

Denver: An Entrepreneurial City – Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, DO

Data Science for Water Infrastructure – Mayor Stephanie Miner, Syracuse, NY

OregonSaves 2.0 – State Treasurer Tobias Read, Oregon

The Future of Families

Whole Child Leon: Building Community Support for our Youngest Children – Representative Loranne Ausley, Tallahassee, FL

Make Head Start A Full Day Program – Councilmember Hans Riemer, Montgomery County, MD

Supporting Workers in the Gig Economy – Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Mount Laurel, NJ


The Future of Rural America

Rural Economic Advancement Of Colorado Towns - REACT – Senator Kerry Donovan, Vail, CO

Rural Infrastructure, Transportation and Innovation Act – Senator Jennifer Shilling, La Crosse, WI

Statewide Imagination Library Partnership – Representative Clarke Tucker, Little Rock, AR