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Innovation Awards

Opportunities Innovation Awards

2024 Official Entry Form  |  Download and print complete 2024 rules  | View past winners

2024 VML Innovation Awards call for entries

The people who make local governments work do so much for their residents with little or no expectation of recognition. That’s why 48 years ago, the Virginia Municipal League launched our “Achievement Awards” to recognize outstanding work being done by local governments across Virginia. The program went on to become Virginia’s highest honor in local government creativity. In 2017 the name was changed to “Innovation Awards”, but the purpose remains the same: To celebrate all that you do to make your city, town, or county a great place to live!

It’s time again for our members to spotlight programs and individuals that have made a big difference to your residents by creating innovative solutions to address emerging needs.

The awards will be presented at VML’s Annual Conference in Virginia Beach in October.


Projects and programs are judged on how well they demonstrate the following:

  • Innovative problem solving
  • Improved quality of life
  • Excellence in management
  • Making the most of local resources
  • Increased citizen participation
  • Long-term value to the community
  • Adaptability to other communities 

Award-winning projects typically demonstrate innovative ways of delivering services, addressing community needs, or significantly improving an existing service.


AWARD CATEGORIES are based on broad topics with local governments of all sizes competing within these categories. The entries will be judged based on the scope and effect of the project in relationship to the community’s size, thereby putting all localities on a level playing field.

Many projects relate to more than one category. When deciding what category best fits your project, consider the primary goal of the project and which components of the project demonstrate the greatest innovation.

Localities may submit only one entry in each of the seven following categories (i.e., a maximum of seven submissions total per locality):

Community Health: Includes building healthy community environments through active lifestyle programs, nutrition education and improving access to healthier food choices.

Economic Development: Includes business development and retention; international competitiveness; infrastructure development and investment; planning, land use and zoning; blight; enterprise zones; housing; transportation; workforce development; and historic preservation.

Environmental Quality: Includes natural resources and the authority of local governments to manage the environment, including water resources and quality, solid and hazardous waste management, air quality and the Chesapeake Bay.

Public Safety: Includes police, fire, rescue services, emergency planning and coordinated response, building code enforcement, jails, health, and mental health related to public safety.  

Working with Youth: Includes civics education, pre-k-12 education, summer programs, parks and recreation, and literacy programs.

Communications: Includes promotional campaigns, branding campaigns, crisis plans, events, customer service programs; media can include online, video, print, social and other formats.

Risk Management: Includes a proactive process of identifying, assessing and mitigating a locality’s risks.  This includes but is not limited to fiscal and physical assets, information technology and data, governance and management.

Presidentís Award for Innovation

One winning project from the category winners will be selected for the top prize – the President’s Award for Innovation – and will receive this top honor in addition to the award in their category.  The President’s award can come from any of the categories. 


All entries must be received via e-mail by 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 26, 2024.

Rules for entering

The competition is open to all VML local government members.

All entries must be submitted electronically via email. Localities must download the Official Entry Form and fill in all of the requested information directly on the form. The completed form must then be e-mailed to

Entries must cover new projects or programs completed between Jan. 1, 2023 and June 1, 2024, or – for existing projects – entries must cover major enhancements during the same time period.

Each entry form must be fully completed and must be signed by the local government’s chief administrative or elected official.

A local government can only submit one entry in each of the seven categories. The President’s Award for Innovation is not a separate category.

Supporting materials totaling no more than 10 pages, including photos, brochures, charts, or other information, can be included in a separate document. This document must also be e-mailed.

A video is also required as part of your supporting materials, include the URL (or web address link) to that video (i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). Maximum length of video is five minutes.  


For more information about completing your entry or other details, contact VML’s Manuel Timbreza at or call 804-649-8471. 

The judging

Entries are screened by VML staff and judged by a panel of judges chosen for their expertise in local and state government. The judges generally represent a variety of backgrounds, including small and large localities and state agencies. 

The winners

Awards will be presented at the 2024 VML Annual Conference awards banquet in Virginia Beach, Oct. 13.  All winning entries will also be featured in Virginia Town & City. 

Don’t miss this premiere opportunity to spotlight innovative programs that make your town, city or county a great place for people to call home!