PITTSBURGH – County Executive Rich Fitzgerald today announced that the Allegheny County Music Festival Fund has been recognized as a “Bright Idea” by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance & Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The designation is part of the American Government Awards Program, which serves to highlight noteworthy programs that may be shared with and adopted by other government officials.
“The Allegheny County Music Festival Fund is a critical resource that truly enriches the lives of children and youth receiving services through our Department of Human Services, as well as the Juvenile Section of the Court of Common Pleas Family Division,” said Fitzgerald. “The fund pays for items that would not be available otherwise through traditional government budgets, such as music lessons, bus passes, graduation expenses, college tours, and cultural events.”
The fund was founded in 2000 by then Family Court Judge Max Baer and DHS Director Marc Cherna. It has raised more than $559,000, of which nearly $392,000 has been used to date to enhance and improve the lives of more than 2,300 children. Funding primarily comes from the proceeds of two annual events, the Allegheny County Music Festival at Hartwood Acres Park and Candidates’ Comedy Night at the Pittsburgh Improv. The fund is also augmented through philanthropic contributions and other benefit projects.
“I am truly honored that the Music Festival Fund has received this important designation,” said Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer. “The fund addresses a very important need, has received valuable public support through generous donations, and continues to be a successful program here in Allegheny County.”
All Bright Idea programs are highlighted in the Ash Center’s Government Innovator’s Network, an open collection of innovations, and they become eligible for the Innovations in American Government Award.
“The Music Festival Fund is a model that absolutely could benefit other agencies,” said Cherna. “We are very pleased with the attention that the Bright Idea designation will bring this initiative.”
The Music Festival Fund is just the latest Allegheny County program to receive recognition by the Ash Center. Justice Related State Support Services won the Innovation in American Government Award In 2005, and the Adoption Legal Services Project was nominated as a top-50 finalist for the same honor in 2006. In 2010, the first year of the Bright Idea initiative, both the Jail Collaborative and Dislocated Worker Tuition Program received the designation.
For more information on the Music Festival Fund, visit About the Allegheny County Music Festival Fund.
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Harvard’s release is available here, and full descriptions of all honored programs are available here.