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Congress Authorizes “Community” as Newest Baldrige National Quality Award Category

August 9, 2022

WASHINGTON D.C., August 9, 2022 –Earlier today, President Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which also authorized “Community” becoming the seventh category of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards. This bill authorizes American communities to apply for and receive presidential-level recognition for efforts to systematically improve community performance across all sectors and collectively achieve better community outcomes. Communities now join American businesses and nonprofit organizations in applying continuous improvement practices to improve community outcomes related to health and wellness, educational attainment, economic vitality, and quality of life.

Since 2013, an initiative led by the nonprofit organization Communities of Excellence 2026 (COE 2026) brought communities across the nation together to participate in a pilot program using the evidence-based Baldrige Excellence Framework. The Framework was originally developed for the manufacturing, service, and small business sectors. Now, that same proven and successful approach can be applied across community sectors to improve how communities are run.

“Congress has now affirmed the important role of communities and the fundamental truth that ‘For America to sustain its vitality, promote opportunity and create a more equitable society during its second 250 years of existence, we must improve the performance of communities and the people who lead and live in them.’ Helping fulfill that vision will be our focus and our work for many years to come.” Lowell C. Kruse, Chair and Co-Founder, Communities of Excellence 2026

The Maximize NWMO program of The Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri is one of the 26 U.S. pilot communities currently working to build leadership and decision-making systems using the Communities of Excellence 2026 Framework. The framework helps communities create solutions that cannot be achieved by a single sector or organization by developing shared community strategies, and engaging residents in community planning and action to address their most pressing challenges and achieve more equitable outcomes.

The Maximize NWMO program is the only regional community effort in the twenty-six pilot communities. Maximize NWMO seeks to work with communities throughout the 18 counties served by the community foundation to use the Community of Excellence framework and work with both formal and informal community leadership to identify community strengths and issues, apply systems thinking in leveraging strengths, solving issues as well as develop processes and action in improving the health, quality of life, education, and economy of their communities. Currently the city of Albany through their Maximize Albany initiative and Clinton County through the Clinton County Initiative are successfully implementing the Communities of Excellence Framework in Northwest Missouri

"When communities think about the future of our 18-county region and act locally to improve their communities, we improve the economy and quality of life for the citizens of the entire region.” Mary Hinde, President, and CEO of The Community Foundation of Northwest MO.

This initiative was inspired by the success of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and the benefits generated for organizations using the Framework. For 35 years, manufacturing, service businesses, health care, education, government, small business and nonprofit organizations have achieved outstanding business results and other outcomes, including revenue and market share, workforce engagement and retention, societal and community benefit, which has resulted in the generation of an estimated $1 billion in economic impact in the U.S. annually.

“Enabling and fostering communities that have exceptional businesses, health, education, and social services —and therefore a better quality of life—is ultimately why Baldrige exists” said Bob Fangmeyer, Director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. “The beauty of Communities of Excellence is that it allows us to impact entire communities all at once, rather than just one organization at a time. We look forward to implementing the new award category subject to the availability of appropriations”.

Communities can now work with one of the state and regional Baldrige-based programs to begin their community performance excellence journey.

Communities in NW Missouri can work directly with the Maximize NWMO program, by contacting Joe Lear, Maximize NWMO Coordinator at Community members can learn more about Maximize NWMO at

Collectively, the Alliance for Performance Excellence, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and Communities of Excellence 2026 evaluate over 1500 organizational and community applications using over 20,000 hours of volunteer time annually.

“The Baldrige Foundation is excited and proud to support this next great evolution of the Baldrige Framework” said Al Faber, President, and CEO of the Baldrige Foundation in Washington D.C. “The Baldrige Foundation provides administrative support for COE 2026, is the sole sponsor of the COE Criteria and Framework and worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to promote “community” as the seventh category of the Baldrige Awards securing bi-partisan support for congressional approval and funding.”

Questions about the Baldrige Award process should be directed to

About Maximize NWMO (a program of The Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri)
Maximize NWMO exists to assist the region in building leadership capability to sustain successful existing and new community development efforts. We are also collaborating with communities to recruit and retain the next generation of community leaders. Community leaders and residents are empowered to identify and prioritize challenges, strengths, and opportunities most important to them. Leaders accomplish these tasks by following a proven framework that serves to sustain and transform this place where people love to live, learn, work, and play. The Maximize NWMO team provides training on the communities of excellence framework through a series of regional learning opportunities that are held quarterly. An individualized educational session can be requested by a community. We also provide support to communities as they begin their journey using the framework. For more information go to

About Communities of Excellence 2026
Communities of Excellence 2026 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that hosts a learning collaborative of communities, trains communities in the Baldrige-based Communities of Excellence Framework, and provides opportunities for communities to work together, share successes, challenges, ideas, and best practices, and learn from each other on their performance excellence journey. There are twenty-six communities with populations ranging from 7,500 to 2.8 million in fifteen states impacted by COE 2026 and 22 communities currently involved in the National Learning Collaborative. For more information go to

About the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to performance excellence and is a part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Baldrige Program raises awareness about the importance of performance excellence in driving the U.S. and global economy; provides organizational assessment tools and criteria; educates leaders in businesses, schools, health care organizations, and government and nonprofit agencies about the practices of best-in-class organizations; and recognizes national role models and honors them with the only Presidential Award for performance excellence. For more information about the Baldrige Program please visit:

About the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award:
The Baldrige Foundation was created as the private partner to the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program in 1988. Its mission is to ensure the long-term financial viability of the Baldrige Program and to support organizational performance excellence throughout the United States and the world. The Baldrige Program, located at NIST within the U.S. Department of Commerce, is a separate entity and is solely responsible for managing and administering the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. For more information on the Baldrige Award process visit:

About the Alliance for Performance Excellence
The Alliance for Performance Excellence (Alliance) is a national network of Baldrige-based organizations and supporting members with a mission to grow performance excellence in support of a thriving Baldrige community. Members contribute nearly 300,000 volunteer hours and more than $30 million per year in tools, resources, and expertise to assist organizations and communities on their journeys to excellence. This includes annually evaluating and recognizing over 1500 organizations that use the Baldrige Excellence Framework and serving as the feeder system for the national Baldrige Award. For more information, visit

Press Release


February 2, 2023

The Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri, Inc. is excited to announce 649 grants were awarded in the amount of $2,835,957 to non-profit organizations and Universities in 2022! Of this amount, $1,987,184 stayed in Northwest Missouri!

The Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) public charity with a mission of encouraging regional collaboration to increase the power of charitable giving and philanthropy to transform our region into an economically vibrant area. We provide charitable giving administration and help donors connect with the causes they care about now and forever. The Community Foundation administers 220 funds with total assets under management of $28 million.

You can start a fund to use during your lifetime or leave a bequest upon your death to The Community Foundation. The causes you feel strongly about will be supported through your fund. This could be a non-profit organization, scholarship, or a field of interest. Starting a fund with The Community Foundation ensures the causes you care so deeply about will continue to be funded forever. It provides future generations access to the great quality of life you enjoyed. Communities survive and thrive through the continued support of their residents. You can contribute cash or virtually any hard-to-value asset including real estate and closely held stock.

Press Release
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