Broward County has received 18 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for innovative and effective government programs that enhance quality of life for residents.
Broward County was recognized for seven initiatives for environmental resiliency and sustainability, including a Best in Category award for the Play Conservation Pays & Win online game. Other award-winning initiatives included programs for employee recruitment, education and safety; enhanced access to technology for youth and veterans; a festival to promote the arts and literacy; a new dog park; an exporting seminar for small businesses; a program that pairs underserved youth with environmental STEM mentors; and a civics program targeted to college students.
The award-winning programs are all services of the Broward County Commission.
Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Category
- Chalk Lit Festival - Broward County Library and Cultural Division produced and hosted the inaugural Chalk Lit Festival at the Main Library in downtown Fort Lauderdale, which attracted nearly 5,000 visitors. The kick-off event for the annual National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program featured more than 20 pavement artists who created literary-themed chalk murals live on the library’s plaza. There were also activities and exhibits for all ages inside the library.
Community and Economic Development Category
- 11 Steps to Exporting - A Roadmap to Your Exporting Success – Through this combination of classroom-style seminars, direct one-on-one technical assistance and graphic learning aids, the Office of Economic and Small Business Development gives small businesses the tools they need to help navigate and demystify the exporting process. Hundreds of local businesses have been impacted by the program.
County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability Category
- Play Conservation Pays and Win! - BEST IN CATEGORY based on exceptional results and unique innovations. – This online game is part of a campaign by the Environmental Planning and Community Resiliency Division to engage the public in water conservation, while advancing sustainability goals. Participants answer questions and quizzes to earn water drops and points, receive instant win prizes and six grand cash prizes of up to $5,000. The game had over 2,000 players.
- Current Conditions Flood Evaluation Tools - These tools were developed to proactively help identify and document flood risks in Broward County. They collect critical data and are incorporated in projects such as Document the Floods; the King Tides Initiative; the Future Conditions 100-year Flood Map; the sea wall study; the infrastructure failure analysis; the installation of a new permanent tidal station; the monitoring of surface and groundwater stages; and the advancement of storm water green infrastructure initiatives.
- Economic Resiliency in Changing Environments - The Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division conducted an Economic Resilience study in Dania Beach, to estimate the economic costs of failure to protect the local business community from future storm surge and sea level rise impacts, and to identify the economic benefits actions to mitigate future coastal hazards. Understanding the economic effects of future climate conditions helps leaders make informed decisions about how best to protect the local communities, businesses and natural resources that make Florida a world-class destination.
- Engaging Students in Climate Resiliency through Youth Climate Summits - Approximately 500 middle and high school students from 16 schools, along with their teachers, attended the first Broward Youth Climate Summit in Fort Lauderdale. The joint effort of Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division and the Broward County Public Schools was an opportunity for students to learn and share their concerns and ideas about climate impacts in South Florida. Participants began to develop Climate Action Plans for their schools and communities. Following the Summit, schools were provided the opportunity to apply for mini-grants to help them initiate actions to address climate change in their schools. Eight of the schools participating provided information to support their mini-grant applications and will receive $300 each.
- Microbial DNA Source Tracking Program - The Broward County Environmental Monitoring Lab has invested in technology to identify the origin of fecal bacteria. This is accomplished via DNA analysis, where DNA is extracted from a water sample and analyzed against a known set of genetic material. This program is an integral part of the County’s regional water quality monitoring efforts with quarterly sampling of freshwater and coastal waterways. Data is used by local municipalities to support efforts in addressing local water quality impairments.
- Sistrunk Bioswale-Green Infrastructure Community Demonstration Project - This project incorporated a curriculum providing students with the opportunity to learn about green infrastructure projects, participate in the design, implementation and monitoring of a bioswale, and volunteer in their community. Bioswales provide pretreatment of storm water runoff from the roadway before it enters into the storm water system for discharge. As part of the project, a bioswale was installed in a two-acre area along Sistrunk Boulevard.
- The Critical Infrastructure: Relations and Consequences for Life and Environment (Circle) Tool - The circle tool helps Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience identify individual pieces of flood vulnerable infrastructure and understand their effect on surrounding infrastructure. Flood models use input from stakeholders to determine where at-risk points of critical infrastructure are located, what the related possible thresholds for failure are, and how the failure of one facility may cascade and compromise interdependent services. The results aid in prioritizing adaptation strategies.
Children and Youth Category
- Junior Sustainability Stewards Program - This Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division program connected youth residing in an underserved community in Broward County with environmental professionals who could spark their interest in science-based sustainable careers, allowing them to venture into untapped academic and real-life STEM/environmental challenges, be mentored by professionals in the field, develop relevant skills, and earn scholarships to work in environmental science, advocacy and policy making.
Civic Education and Public Information Category
- Passport to Public Service - Broward Academy VII: Passport to Broward is an innovative and creative 10-week educational program designed to increase resident knowledge of County programs and services, and enhance understanding of how local government works. Thirty college students from six local universities, representing a variety of disciplines, were recruited for a “behind the scenes County journey.” Millennial engagement was maximized through tours, interactive exercises and presentations, online gaming tools, experiential learning, internet communications and social media. The program was coordinated by the Broward County Office of Public Communications and engaged numerous County agencies.
- Bridging the Digital Divide with Gear to Go - Broward County Libraries wanted to inspire and educate County youth by providing free and convenient access to emerging technology. Lending programs were created to allow children and teens who work, live or go to school in Broward to check out cutting-edge technology from their local library, including 3D and virtual/augmented reality gear (MERGE Cube and Headsets), digital tablets and robotics. It also created opportunities for the Library to meet young customers “where they are” by providing Pop Up Libraries in unconventional locations that offer free eBooks without a library card. The “Your ID is Your Key” program provides any Broward County Public School student with a free digital library card that lets them use their student ID number to access online library resources.
- Vet Fest - This free community event connected veterans and their families to valuable library and community resources through 25 different workshops, programs, exhibits and activities, presented by Broward County libraries and 35 participating partner organizations. The event featured a full day of activities including a keynote speech by retired Army General Nolen Bivens. There were discussions of veterans’ issues, family activities, book giveaways, resume and job search assistance, recording of oral histories, legal and financial services, housing support and information about digital resources and library card sign-ups. Approximately 1,750 people attended.
Parks and Recreation Category
- Woofing Waters Dog Park - With an increasingly urbanized population and dog ownership that has held steady for decades – no wonder dog parks are booming nationwide. It’s no different in Broward County, Florida, home to nearly 1.9 million residents and more than 123,000 registered dogs. Now the county has a second, much-needed dog park, Woofing Waters at Quiet Waters Park. The Parks and Recreation Division's facility fills a void – it’s only the 17th dog park in a county consisting of 31 municipalities, only a third of which have dog parks. It offers a two-acre enclosed area where dogs can run leash-free and mingle with other dogs, enhancing the mental and physical well-being of all involved, including owners.
Personnel Management, Employment and Training Category
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Employee Emergency Training Program - Broward County Aviation Department launched this innovative, industry-leading program to train airport employees to respond to emergencies including aircraft incidents, hurricanes and active assailants. Nearly 17,000 Airport employees completed 2.5 hours and six modules of online training on such topics as Airport Emergency Response Plans, Communications During Emergencies, First Aid, Customer Service and Recognizing Human Trafficking. This is the first known mandatory training program of its kind to ever launch at a large-hub U.S. airport geared to all categories of airport employees.
- Employee Benefit Services Education Series - Benefits of an HSA Workshops - Broward County Human Resources Division provides a comprehensive benefits program to approximately 5,500 benefit-eligible employees. This workshop series included classes and workshops to provide timely and specific information on topics requested by County employees and their dependents. “Benefits of a Health Savings Account (HSA)” was designed to help employees understand the nuances of this IRS-dictated account, and how to use it effectively.
- Open House Program - Human Resources Division’s “Open House Program” is a non-traditional job fair that provides job seekers with a unique experience to network with County staff about various job profiles, meet County’s benefit vendors, and utilize no-cost job services on-site such as resume critiquing and application assistance. Since hosting its first Open House event in 2017, Human Resources has partnered with local universities to host subsequent events semi-annually.
Risk and Emergency Management Category
- Safety of Excellence Program - The Safety and Health Section of Broward’s Risk Management Division initiated a proactive, behavior-based Safety Committee Program at Water & Wastewater Services. The program encourages workers, supervisors and management to coordinate efforts to better comprehend the complexity of safety and health issues in the workplace and enhance a positive safety culture. The program is designed to reduce accidents, injuries and claims while protecting and motivating employees to perform safer tasks at work.