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States win innovation awards.

New York discovered a key to preventing drug offender recidivism. Ohio lured rural students into college. And Vermont managed to squeeze the most out of its energy programs.

These three projects reaped awards and recognition this spring for unique model programs during the Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

New York's community-based Bodega de la Familia works with the state parole division to help families deal with parolees and their supervising officers. The project encourages community supervision of drug offenders.

With more than 600,000 men and women to be released from America's jails and prisons this year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 80 percent will be put on parole. And an estimated 60 percent will be re-arrested. The New York program shows how government and communities can work together to improve the supervision of parolees and enhance family life, as well. Families provide the bridge between parole officers and parolees.

Ohio has developed a consortium of 10 higher education institutions in its 29 Appalachian counties. Before the project, it was estimated only 30 percent of rural residents in those areas attended college. The Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education provides "access" grants to K-12 school districts for projects that encourage students to consider college. Some of the programs include:

* Field trips to colleges and businesses.

* Financial aid information.

* Guest speeches by recent grads.

The third project, Efficiency Vermont, is tire nation's first statewide "energy efficiency utility." Vermont's Energy Investment Corporation, a private nonprofit organization, contracts with the state Public Service Board to provide services aimed at improving energy efficiency. The program delivers statewide rebates for buying energy-saving products and financial assistance for building energy-efficient homes.

Winners, announced this spring from among 1,000 applicants, received $100,000 grants to promote and replicate their efforts.
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Title Annotation:On First Reading
Publication:State Legislatures
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Previous Article:Ohio marks 200 years as 17th state.
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