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League of California Cities

Helen Putnam Award

Helen Putnam Award for Excellence Winners will be Announced at
Annual Conference 

Please join us at the League's Virtual Annual Conference October 7-9.
This year's Helen Putnam Award for Excellence winners will be announced during Wednesday's and Thursday's General Sessions. For a complete list of the conference sessions click here.

Please contact Melissa Tualla with any questions at (916) 658-8216.


2019 Helen Putnam For Excellence Award Winners

CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award
Costa Mesa
Program Title: SMART Camp

SMART Camp (Sports, Music and Arts Camp) is a free, 4-week summer camp run by the City as a partnership program with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD). The camp is offered at Costa Mesa High School, to incoming 4th through 8th graders. SMART Camp is intended to draw students from Costa Mesa based schools, with the goal of offering free, introductory and intermediate level sports, music and arts programs to encourage youth to engage in, and explore, new areas of school related extracurricular activities. There has been a steady increase in participants since the program’s inception, topping out at more than 500 enrolled participants in 2018. This partnership culminates in an end of summer performance/activity, allowing the youth to highlight their acquired skills and newfound talents.

Community Services and Economic Development

Program Title: Camp Achieve

To combat summer learning loss, the City of Richmond Community Services Department (Recreation Division), in partnership with the Ed Fund, the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and local nonprofit enrichment organizations, provide high quality summer programs by bringing together academics, enrichment, and recreation in a new way for 300 children between the ages of six and 12. The programs are offered free of charge at four community centers in Richmond.

Economic Development through the Arts

Program Title: Napa Lighted Art Festival

Napa Lighted Art Festival does Art After Dark! This 9-day free festival features iconic architecture becoming the painting in this unique lighted art walk. Original artwork created by local and international artists are installed at approximately 15 locations in Downtown Napa and the Oxbow District. Supporting the innovative techniques using light and light technologies as a growing art medium, the Napa Lighted Art Festival is a celebration of creative arts, technology and lights. Artwork displayed at the Napa Lighted Art Festival includes light art, video art, 3D video mapping projections, lighted sculptures and projects that use technology or interactivity. Residents and visitors can enjoy art, entertainment and delicious food both day and night during the festival in the heart of Napa Valley.

Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, & Community Involvement

Rancho Cucamonga
Program Title: Campeones para La Comunidad

In the face of low resident involvement from diverse populations, Healthy RC, an innovative City-community partnership, developed an inclusive community empowerment program known as the Campeones para la Comunidad, Community Champions, to meaningfully engage with Latino, Spanish speaking residents to build trust among this community to successfully develop policies and programs.

Health & Wellness Programs

Program Title: Fontana Walks!

Fontana Walks! initially challenged Fontana residents to a communitywide goal of walking 2 billion steps in one year (August 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018) and encouraged participation through promotional giveaways, walking events, advertisements, rewards, and an easy-to-use on-line site for logging pedometer readings. The community surpassed the initial goal within 8 months and has now logged more than 5 billion steps (and counting!) in less than 20 months.


Housing Programs and Innovations
Program Title: Housing for Generations

The Housing for Generations program is a multifaceted effort of the City of Encinitas to address our housing demand challenges, and its title reflects the need to provide housing for a diverse population. The combination of limited undeveloped land and community concerns regarding up-zoning and increases in density and height limits, make it difficult to construct new housing. Density had to be found within the existing fabric of the community. To do so, the City created new ordinances, sponsored state legislation, and developed an innovative permit ready accessory dwelling unit (PRADU) program.

Internal Administration
San Rafael
Program Title: Together San Rafael

The scope and ambition of Together San Rafael is not common. We are not forming an “innovation team” but instead every employee is the innovation team. It is not about being innovative by designing a new performance evaluation system, a new training program, or using some new technology. It is about transforming government from the inside out.

League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations

Program Title: Valor Crossing

Valor Crossing – an affordable housing development focused on veterans – exemplifies the spirit of collaboration between the public and private sector. A public-private-nonprofit partnership among the City of Dublin, Bay West (a private housing developer) and Eden Housing (a not-for-profit housing developer) resulting in a 66-unit 100% affordable residential project supporting veterans in downtown Dublin. When Valor Crossing opened, 35 of the new residents were either homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. The Valor Crossing project would not have been feasible without the City of Dublin’s Development Pool and Community Benefit programs, two valuable economic development tools to encourage downtown revitalization.

Planning & Environmental Quality
Daly City 
Program Title: Project GreenSpace

Project Green Space (PGS) is an urban forestry and green infrastructure program that is convened and led by the City of Daly City and driven by our citizens through impact volunteering. As one of the most prominent community engagement programs in the City, PGS allows the City to partner directly with citizens to solve a range of civic issues together. PGS aims to develop community resilience to climate change and disaster by empowering citizens to actively reshape the future of their neighborhoods with new green space and trees. PGS is growing Daly City’s small and beleaguered urban forest and is actively adapting the species mix and diversity to prepare for longer-term trends with the changing climate. Our urban canopy is essential to resilience in the concrete jungle of one of the densest cities in the country. Our citizens have transformed new green spaces and trees into living community assets. It is the first initiative of its kind in Daly City and will catalyze a much larger effort to revitalize the urban forest and embed resiliency efforts into all aspects of City work. 

Public Safety
King City
Program Title: King City Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Violence

The King City Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Violence is a plan developed by a 23-member community task force appointed by the City Council to address the youth violence problem faced by the community through a comprehensive and proactive approach. It consists of 24 measures under the categories of prevention, intervention, enforcement, re-entry and community outreach. The majority of the Plan has been implemented by the City in partnership with other agencies, community groups, and the community at-large.

Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation

West Sacramento
Program Title: West Sacramento On-Demand Rideshare

West Sacramento On-Demand is an innovative public transportation program deployed in partnership with private ridesharing company, Via Transportation Inc. At its core, West Sacramento On-Demand brings convenience and a high quality user experience to the previously underserved or transit dependent, while preserving critical social functions of public transit by safeguarding accessibility across ages, incomes and abilities. Via’s state-of-the-art technology balances speed of service with optimized vehicle occupancies, using a smart algorithm to predict demand and pick up multiple passengers along the way. The program has improved mobility for all, and especially among Seniors, Youth, lower income households and female riders.


Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government  
South Pasadena
Program Title: Tech Day

Tech Day is a monthly event that provides one-on-one learning sessions for senior citizens. Keeping in touch with family via email, Skype and Facebook is not an easy task for our aging population. Technology changes just when they learn how to log in. Tech Day was created by the Youth Commissioners to assist seniors with keeping in touch with ever changing technology and software.


Archive of Winners

Who was Helen Putnam?

Helen Putnam was a mother, school teacher, principal, mayor, and county supervisor. But most of all, Helen Putnam was a person who viewed meeting one's potential as the measure of success. Excellence, to Helen Putnam, was shown by someone who did his or her very best. She was as supportive and loving of people who did their best as she was of people who did the best. To the League and to California cities, Helen Putnam defined excellence. The Award for Excellence is given in her memory.

© League of California Cities