Henrico County has received 23 Achievement awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo), more than any other Virginia locality this year. The awards were presented at the 2009 NACo annual conference, held July 24-28 in Nashville / Davidson County, Tennessee.

Look at some of our past NACo Awards
2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003

Visit the National Association of Counties’ Web site

Begun in 1970, the annual National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Achievement Award Program is a non-competitive awards program which seeks to recognize innovative county government programs called County Model Programs. Created as a part of NACo’s New County, USA Campaign, the Achievement Award Program continues to embody the grassroots and local government energy the program was designed to promote. The main emphasis of the New County, USA campaign was to modernize and streamline county government and to increase its services to its citizens, goals that are still the main emphasis of the Achievement Award Program today.

County governments across the country, working alone and in cooperation with other governments at the municipal, state and national levels, continue to develop innovative and successful programs in a wide range of service areas, including arts and historic preservation, children and youth, community and economic development, corrections, county administration, emergency management, environmental protection, health, human services, libraries, parks and recreation, transportation, volunteers and much more. The Achievement Awards Program gives national recognition to county accomplishments, and has enabled NACo to build a storehouse of county success stories that can be passed on to other counties.


2009 Award Winners

Development of a Formal Employee Training Program in the Revenue Division

Throughout the past decade, the County of Henrico has continued to experience a steady growth in the number of businesses and residents within our community. This has precipitated a corresponding increase in the number of tax returns filed with the Revenue Division (i.e., business license and personal property, miscellaneous taxes, real estate tax relief, state income, vehicle license and personal property, etc.). With a limited amount of human resources, coping with the peak periods and staffing turnover became exceedingly difficult. Thus a formal training program was developed to assimilate new employees into the operation much quicker and to cross-train the existing staff in areas outside their specialty. This initiative succeeded in not only generating additional revenue for the County, but also enhancing the level of customer service provided to our citizens.

Agency: Department of Finance


Publicizing the Real Estate Tax Relief Program

Over the past several years a concerted effort has been made by the County of Henrico to further expand the participation in its Real Estate Advantage Program (REAP), which is available to both senior citizens and the totally disabled. After comparing the number of applicants to a demographic profile provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, it became clear a significant number of potentially eligible citizens were not enrolled in this program. In response to this issue, the Revenue Division developed a multimedia campaign designed to reach out to the “target” audience and make them aware of the benefits which REAP can offer. The initiatives which were undertaken included:

  • Creating an infomercial which was broadcast on the local cable channel;
  • Distributing informational brochures about the program to facilities which serve senior citizens, as well as to our public libraries;
  • Giving PowerPoint presentations at community events and town hall meetings; and
  • Putting the REAP application and instructions on the internet, as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

The result of these efforts has been truly phenomenal. Since 2006, the number of applicants for REAP has risen by over 50%. But possibly the best indication as to the success of this outreach effort has been the positive feedback from the new participants in terms of what REAP has done for them.

(Note: While a portion of this is attributable to expanding the income and net worth criteria, the vast majority reflects a greater public awareness and participation in the program itself.)

Agency: Department of Finance


The Right Person in the Right Job for the Right Reason – Every Time!

A single faulty hiring decision can have dramatic consequences for the employee involved as well as the employer. Each hiring decision is made with confidence that the person selected will make the greatest contributions to the County. To ensure that Henrico County was getting the right people in the right jobs and for the right reasons, the Employment Division of Human Resources, in partnership with the Training Division, embarked on an initiative that has been spectacularly successful. Job applicants are able to showcase their qualifications due to an innovative process of answering pre-screening questions; hiring managers are able to assess and hire the best candidates for key positions because they have confidence in making legal, ethical, and effective hiring decisions. This initiative has also resulted in greater consistency in the screening, interviewing and hiring process. Phase One used a group training format to communicate important information to hiring managers. Phase Two used the implementation of pre-screening questions on job postings. These two phases have resulted in a “win-win” situation for applicants, Human Resources, and hiring managers and have helped to ensure Henrico County gets the right person in the right job for the right reason – every time!

Agency: Human Resources Department


The Value of In-House Experts: Connecting the GIS Community

How can a local government ensure that the time, money, and effort spent providing learning opportunities in GIS applications will actually be transferred into practical use? How can GIS users -scattered in multiple agencies – network and learn from each other? Henrico County answered these questions with the creative approach of using in-house experts to provide a customized training program in GIS applications. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing and displaying geographically referenced information. It links geographic information (where things are) with descriptive information (what things are like). Unlike a paper map, a GIS has many layers of information. It involves users, databases, the web, programming, and expensive software and hardware. This innovative initiative involved the collaborative efforts of the County’s GIS Office, located in the Department of Public Works, and the Employee Development & Training Division of Human Resources. The use of internal GIS experts as designers and facilitators saved the County over $46,000 in training dollars in the first year and provided GIS users with a richer learning experience as they participated in a program provided by their peers and designed exclusively around their unique needs.

Agencies: Human Resources Department and Department of Public Works


Books on Wheels

The Librarians at Twin Hickory Library wanted to reach out to other literacy organizations in the area and create a joint venture that would benefit the community. We pursued a joint venture with a local literacy and transportation non-profit organization, Books on Wheels. Books on Wheels distributes books, bikes and bike repair services to needy areas in Virginia and all along the East Coast. We wanted to support their efforts and also harness the wonderful charitable spirit in our own community. We created and promoted a day-long Book and Bike Donation Drive for Books on Wheels. It was a wonderful success with over 1,700 books donated, 31 bikes donated, and 12 helmets donated (8 of which were given away. Books on Wheels gives helmets to any kid that asks for them, regardless of economic status). We also had our very own Bookmobile out for part of the day so that patrons could see another aspect of our outreach services.

Agency: Public Library


Linking Libraries, Communities & Cultures

The American Library Association’s Linking Libraries, Communities, and Cultures 2008 public affairs slogan became the perfect theme for the 2008-09 ALL HENRICO READS project sponsored by Henrico County Public Library and Henrico County Public Schools. This type of project is not unique where an author or a book title is chosen with the intent that the entire community will read the book(s) and have public discussions. This project was very much in keeping with one of the goals of the public library – to promote literacy. This year’s literacy project, however, met a broader goal. Selected author, Julia Alvarez, wrote stories of the immigrant experience that could help us reach our growing Henrico Hispanic population and generate community discussion about this controversial political issue. We wanted to communicate to our Hispanic families that public libraries and schools were eager to assist them in helping learn English and find reading materials that would help with their assimilation into the American way of life.

Agency: Public Library


Community Support Services Individual Supported Employment Program

The Community Support Services Individual Supported Employment Program’s ultimate goal is to assist adults with intellectual disabilities to obtain and maintain employment. To accomplish this goal employment specialists work with individual clients to prepare them for job development and placement activities that include rsum writing, completing applications, interview behavior and interview skills. After an individual has been placed in a competitive job in the community, the employment specialist trains the client on the job. Employment specialists first learn the tasks involved and then train the client on the job tasks and social behavior required by the employer. Clients receive one-to-one training at the work site. After acceptable performance is established, the Employment specialist begins to fade out support and, eventually, reaches a point of checking in with the employer and client only a few times per month for as long as the employer or client needs this intermittent level of support. A new program emphasizing the preparation for employment was added to assist Special Education students and their teachers in the process of transitioning from school to work. This new part of the Supported Employment program, Career Fair, provides information and hands-on learning opportunities to transitioning students and their teachers. While the Career Fair event itself is a one day activity, there are associated activities performed in the school that connect the classroom instruction to practical application of skills.

Agency: Henrico Area Mental Health and Retardation Services


Teen Job Preparatory Program

The Teen Job Preparatory Program is a community-based program that helps Henrico County youth ages 14 and 15 develop positive vocational attitudes, skills and behaviors. Youth participate in a nine month instructional phase of pre-employment training and basic skills development that also entails specific volunteer community service hours requirements and academic expectations. Upon successful completion of the instructional phase or basic skills tract, youth are provided a paid 6 week summer employment placement. The program also includes an entrepreneurial tract for youth who have previously participated in the basic skills tract. This tract utilizes area business representatives to provide on-site instruction regarding starting and owning a business. Participants are taught the basic concepts of entrepreneurship and upon completion also participate in a paid 6 week summer employment. As part of the graduation, youth in both the basic skills and entrepreneurship tracts participate in a Teen Job Symposium. The Teen Job Symposium is held in the spring and is open to all county teens. Teens attend morning workshops provided by business representatives reemphasizing basic employment skills. Additionally, in the afternoon, vendors from the business community are available at the symposium to offer paid employment, volunteer and internship opportunities.

Agency: Henrico Area Mental Health and Retardation Services


School Resource Officer/Dare Leadership Program

This SRO/DARE Leadership program consists of four blocks of instruction: Leadership, Ethics, The Interview, and Mentoring, which is presented to School Resource Officers to facilitate their continuous development and to hone their leadership and mentoring skills. It is vital these officers realize the impact they have on a school student’s life and how tremendous a responsibility this can be. The program’s key purpose is to upgrade the level of training and to improve the effectiveness of School Resource Officers.

Agency: Division of Police


Address Change Initiative

Within the Commonwealth of Virginia there exists a unique situation whereby counties and cities are totally independent from one another insofar as economic, geographic, and political matters are concerned. Nonetheless, Henrico County and the City of Richmond have always shared a common mailing address of “Richmond, VA” which has created a serious problem in terms of misallocated local taxes. For years, millions of dollars in revenue belonging to the County was mistakenly being paid to the City. Though thousands of man-hours were expended each year to remedy this issue, staff within the Finance Department estimated that the County was still losing up to five million dollars on an annual basis due to the confusion surrounding the mailing address. Consequently, the County ultimately approached the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to determine the feasibility of procuring its own mailing address of “Henrico, VA.” These officials were amenable to instituting such a change, but only if a majority of businesses and residents within the community were willing to vote in favor of this action in a survey conducted by USPS.

Agency: Public Relations & Media Services Department


Back to Basics with Litter and Recycling

The Keep Henrico Beautiful (KHB) program created and implemented a school lesson plan and accompanying bulletin board kit to educate the County’s youngest citizens about litter, recycling, and caring for the environment. The lesson plan created for kindergarten through second grades, “Back to Basics with Litter and Recycling” presented 241 classroom lessons to 4,609 students. The lesson focuses on vocabulary, reading, and creativity while adhering to Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOLs). The objective of the lesson is to give students a common environmental vocabulary so they can communicate clearly about issues facing their community. KHB recognized the need for an environmental bulletin board kit upon presenting the “Back to Basics” lesson to students. An absence of visual aids (in teacher stores and catalogs) for the environmental concepts covered prompted the creation of a bulletin board kit for every kindergarten through second grade classroom in Henrico County.

Agency: Department of Public Utilities


AHA Heartsaver First Aid, CPR and AED Certification

The County of Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks’ American Heart Association (AHA) Heartsavers First Aid, CPR and AED Certification Initiative grew out of the desire to certify all full-time staff, part-time staff, and contractual instructors as first responders in the most feasibly economical way. This initiative naturally complements and enhances the County’s Division of Fire Emergency Management Services program by creating a countywide safety net for the citizens of the County of Henrico. With hundreds of Recreation and Parks staff working in close proximity to the public in our recreation centers, on our playgrounds, in classes, at special events, and in the parks, participants are never far from the initial care they may need in case of an emergency. The Division of Recreation and Parks created their own team of certified instructors and subsequently trained and certified 330 staff members during the first seven months of the program.

Agency: Department of Recreation and Parks


Playground Replacement and Accessibility/Inclusion Initiative

The Henrico County Division of Recreation and Parks “Playground Replacement and Accessibility/Inclusion Initiative” began with the Capital Improvement Projects budget of 2008-2009 and focused on three main goals: 1) Replacement of aging playground equipment with new, state of the art equipment; 2) increasing the accessibility of that equipment to boost the inclusion of children with a wide range of disabilities; and 3) accomplishing the above goals in the most cost effective manner while regaining more control of the collaborative process. These goals were accomplished through a series of changes in the philosophy of how the Division pursues playground replacement by directly utilizing the expertise of the Division’s Consumer Product Safety Commission Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) and its five Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS).

Agency: Department of Recreation and Parks


Event Management …the ICS Way

In 2008, the Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks, in partnership with the Henrico Division of Fire, implemented an innovative Event Management Program to more efficiently manage special events produced by the Division of Recreation and Parks. The program is modeled after the Incident Command System (ICS) under the National Incident Management System (NIMS) which is used by public safety agencies across the county to mitigate emergency incidents. This program model emphasizes management by objectives, participant and provider safety, financial accountability, and the effective use of resources to enhance the service delivery through the most effective means. Additionally, “Event Management . . . the ICS Way” provides detailed documentation, the Event Action Plan (EAP), allowing for the replication of successes and highlights areas that need improvement. This EAP, along with debriefing of personnel and the production of an After Event Report, are the foundations for continuous quality improvement of activities offered to the citizens of Henrico County.

Agency: Department of Recreation and Parks


2010 Redistricting Project: A Community-Led Process

Henrico County has experienced significant residential and commercial growth for more than fifteen years. This growth has been fostered by the quality of the county’s public school system, as well as other public services. The county’s student enrollment increased by 15,000 students (over 45%) since 1990, and the school division opened the equivalent of one school per year in response to residential growth. Accordingly, when new schools are constructed or others reach maximum capacity, school boundaries must be redrawn to balance school membership and capacity to achieve a consistent rate of utilization across the county. The impact of long-term growth has created the need for capacity relief in multiple non-contiguous schools at each level, and construction is underway for a new middle and high school scheduled to open in fall 2010. To address district-wide membership and capacity issues and create attendance zones for the new schools, a county-wide study of attendance boundaries at the elementary, middle, and high school levels was required. Due to the scope of the redistricting needs and the potential for impacting multiple communities in all school zones, a community-led process was developed for the 2010 redistricting project. A 70-member volunteer community committee was formed. The committee was divided into three subcommittees (elementary, middle, and high), and members analyzed data, developed scenarios for attendance boundary options, presented scenarios to all residents of Henrico County, received and responded to community comments, adjusted scenarios and considered feeder patterns, finalized scenarios and presented a recommendation to the School Board for consideration. This community committee established a broader and deeper level of community engagement in the redistricting process, and brought a new level of objectivity to the process through the participation of all school communities.

Agencies: Henrico County Public Schools


Building Strength on Fathers Initiative

The Building Strength in Fathers Initiative was designed and developed specifically to increase male parental involvement in Henrico County Public Schools. Title I and other state and federally funded programs in the County require a parental involvement component. In the past two years, we have observed more male role models being involved at our most challenged schools. Hence, the program was designed to allow fathers and other positive male role models in our students’ lives to be recognized for their efforts and spend quality time with their children. School-based personnel have expanded our efforts at the building level by beginning programs specifically for fathers. These activities have had positive impacts at the building level by increased involvement and participation in school-wide activities.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools


Children’s Engineering for Elementary Schools

The field of Technology Education involves the understanding of the human-made world. It is part of an area of study referred to as STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics). Children’s Engineering is the common name given to Technology Education in the elementary classroom. This program integrates STEM education into the elementary classroom. Children’s Engineering includes hands-on, age-appropriate, technology-based activities that enhance, not add to, any local, state, or national curriculum. The activities are designed to extend and promote mastery of required standards. Taught skills are applied, not just to one content area, but across the curriculum in authentic, integrated learning lessons.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools


Recipe4Success

Schools face challenges in providing learning environments which also address the physical activity, nutritional and family needs of students. Recipe4Success provides a plan by which the many aspects of a child’s life are addressed under one after-school program. The 21st Century Community Learners grant-funded program allows for math and other homework tutorials and physical activity with a target for aerobic fitness. It also includes a “chef academy” where students learn math and cooking skills and prepare an evening meal for family members at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School. Within the program, students participate at the local YMCA and learn to swim. Parents and community members may enroll in a free GED class during the two days per week after-school program. Henrico County Public Schools’ Recipe4Success works to empower students and their families to ensure success for a lifetime.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools


Ride and Read Action-Based Learning

Henrico County Public Schools opened a new elementary school in 2008, Harvie Elementary School. The school focuses on a system-wide theme of action-based learning; embedding physical activity within the total school curriculum and into the physical environment of the building. Students may ride stationary bikes on spinners while reading in the library, at stations throughout the hallways while changing classrooms (with teacher permission) and in physical education classes. Teachers, parents and visitors have designated bike stations as well in the building. A variety of interactive action-based items (Geofitness, Xavix, Wii ) were purchased to promote both kinesthetic and cognitive learning to increase fitness and academic success at the same time.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools


Springer Day Care: Nurturing Today, Preparing for Tomorrow

Springer Day Care is a high quality, full-day preschool lab operated in conjunction with the Early Childhood Education program at Highland Springs Technical Center in Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS). Springer Day Care was developed to (1) provide high school students who are enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program with real-world experiences working with young children, and (2) to draw teachers to schools identified as hard-to-staff. High school students attend daily classes in the Springer Day Care building where they learn child development and child care concepts. In addition to the traditional classroom instruction, students interact daily with preschoolers to apply the course concepts and gain real-world experience. Students prepare for child related professions such as child care, teaching, child psychology, pediatrics and many others. Being part of Springer Day Care provides students a better understanding of both the challenges and rewards in working with young children. The Springer Day Care program is offered as a benefit to HCPS employees by offering low cost, accessible child care.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools


Using Technology for Recruiting Teachers in High-Need Areas

As part of the Career and Technical Education programs in our schools, Technology Education provides students with pre-engineering, digital communications, and manufacturing types of activities. To fill teacher openings in the area of Technology Education, Henrico County Public Schools has enhanced its recruiting efforts to include two-way video/audio conferencing with various universities to increase undergraduate awareness of the teaching opportunities in the area of Technology Education.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools


Watch D.O.G.S. Program at Hungary Creek Middle School

WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) is the safe school initiative of the National Center for Fathering that involves fathers and father figures to help create a more safe and secure learning environment in our nation’s schools” (from national website www.fathers.com). At Hungary Creek Middle School, we have an average of one father/father figure each school day to support the school staff by greeting students in the morning, walking the campus as an extra set of proactive eyes for safety concerns, to guest speak or assist in classrooms, to mentor students at lunch and to assist with traffic flow during hallway transitions.

Agencies: Henrico County Public Schools


Case Management Model

The Human Services Division of the County’s Social Services Department is responsible for the accurate determinations, renewals and timely issuance of benefits to the citizens who need our programs. A methodology was needed to ensure program integrity, meeting all federal and state regulations; thereby the design of the Case Management Model was crafted for implementation in January 2008. In the past, each worker assigned to the Families & Children workload managed about 450 families, acting on yearly renewals in Medicaid and Food Stamps, interim reports and changes that spanned from addresses to adding children to adjusting rental amounts. These activities required constant shifts in what actions were required and the body of knowledge required. In a complex maze of policy and procedures, workers felt burned out and unable to produce quality work. Client complaints were numerous at the beginning of each month, often reaching administration for resolution. The Case Management Model was crafted to enhance the work load that would benefit both the client and the staff.

Agency: Department of Social Services