California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence

Santa Maria develops hands-on, career-based agricultural education program for high schoolers

When the opportunity arose to create a model program with students and local businesses, the city of Santa Maria stepped up. In partnership with the city of Santa Maria partnered with a local ag-related businesses to create a successful hands-on educational program, from work of planting pumpkins, and networking with community members, to creating fun events.

Santa Clarita mascot, Sammy Clarita, poses with children at a local event.

Santa Clarita uses creative mascot to engage youth and instill city knowledge and pride

Open house celebrations at Santa Clarita City Hall, documentary-style videos, and articles about what it took to become a city appealed to adult residents. At the same time, a small, stuffed horse named Sammy Clarita quickly became the city’s unofficial mascot and messenger to engage the city’s younger residents. The “I Found Sammy Clarita” campaign introduces the next generation of residents to their local government and teaches them the importance of being an engaged resident. 

The city of Glendale has a reputation as a regional tech center, with a diverse local tech economy, a highly-educated workforce, and many attributes needed to attract tech startups and employees.

City of Glendale kick starts local technology and innovation ecosystem

The city of Glendale’s efforts to grow the tech industry including the creation of “knowledge sharing” or places where local talent could go to innovate, inspire, and meet one another, inspired the creation of its Glendale Ecosystem for Tech Startups initiative. This helped focus on attracting new businesses including high-end co-working space operators; developing a strategy to offer more mentorship, business development, and investment opportunities to local startups; and helping tech companies expand. 

City of Alameda works to build climate resiliency and advance sustainability

The city of Alameda is an island community in the San Francisco Bay Area that faces an existential threat from sea level rise. The city responded to this challenge by developing a cutting-edge Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, including a roadmap for a “Climate Safe Path,” in which Alameda aggressively reduces its own greenhouse gas emissions as well as raise climate awareness.

Courson Arts interior of art gallery.

Palmdale’s latest housing innovation: the Courson Arts Colony

In recent years, the city of Palmdale saw housing costs outpace the area’s income levels, resulting in a shortage of affordable housing in the area. The Courson Arts Colony, the latest component of Palmdale’s city center revitalization and housing innovation, provides affordable housing and incorporates an arts component to serve as a healing element for veterans who may be suffering from PTSD.

City of Escondido public works employees remove graffiti.

City of Escondido develops innovative and collaborative program to eliminate graffiti

Graffiti destroys property, costs cities hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and can blight entire communities. To address graffiti issues, the City of Escondido created a custom designed smartphone app to crowdsource information from the community to help keep their city clean and free of graffiti. 

Santa Clarita prepares for “silver tsunami” with Gold Star College Internship Program

Through Santa Clarita’s College Internship Program interns get a taste of work life after completing their degree and gain exposure to key aspects of local government. The city benefits because it develops the next generation of public sector employees and provides professional development opportunities for current employees. Santa Clarita’s succession planning strategy has proven to be a success and can serve as a model for other cities as they work to develop future city employees and leaders. 

Norwalk Offers Empathy and Critical Support to Teens in Crisis

Developed by a volunteer team of recreation staff, the We Have Project offers a forum for dealing with challenging issues, including depression and anxiety, and links Norwalk teens and youth with professional resources.

Norwalk Offers Empathy and Critical Support to Teens in Crisis

Developed by a volunteer team of recreation staff, the We Have Project offers a forum for dealing with challenging issues, including depression and anxiety, and links Norwalk teens and youth with professional resources.

Alisal Vibrancy Plan Addresses Equity Issues in Salinas

This plan is the result of advocacy and a collaborative process with city staff, community-based organizations, and residents that increased public engagement, public dialogue, and trust and brought new leadership into planning processes.

Costa Mesa Summer Camp Focuses on Sports, Music, and Arts

This camp introduces youths to a range of sports, music, art activities, and extracurricular interests.

Camp Achieve Provides Summer Fun and Learning for Richmond’s Youth

This summer camp program delivers a diverse array of learning enrichment activities including robotics, chess, the arts, and physical fitness.

Greening the Concrete Jungle: Daly City Partners With Residents

Project Green Space is a robust urban forestry and green infrastructure program convened by the city and driven by residents. The program empowers community members to actively reshape the future of their neighborhoods by adopting new trees and planting and maintaining rain gardens.

South Pasadena Teens Provide Tech Expertise to Senior Community

This increasingly popular program bridges the digital divide and fosters intergenerational communication.

Dublin Provides Affordable Housing for Veterans

An innovative public-private-nonprofit partnership transformed a former car dealership site into housing for veterans, comprising 66 units that are 100 percent affordable.

Encinitas Retools Planning to Increase Housing Options

The city retooled its existing zoning and standards to make it easier for property owners to add accessory dwelling units, also known as granny flats. Encinitas also successfully sponsored state legislation to make the changes possible.

Fontana Motivates Residents to Walk More and Improve Health

The city faced alarming rates of obesity in its community and launched an innovative effort to improve fitness among residents of all ages. The program exceeded its goals, and its popularity continues to increase.

West Sacramento’s On-Demand Ride-share Service Addresses Transit Needs

The ride-share service improves access to critical daily amenities and is helping to change the lives of transit-dependent residents. The program has improved mobility for all, especially seniors and youths.

Napa Lighted Art Festival Draws January Crowds

The Napa Lighted Art Festival takes a bold, contemporary approach to the visual arts by bringing emerging light technologies into the city’s streets, where buildings function as large outdoor canvases and attract crowds.

San Rafael’s Employee-Driven Effort Focuses on Meeting the Community’s Changing Needs

San Rafael asked city employees, “How would you design your department if you could create it today, rather than as it was created decades ago?”