Winners Chosen for the 2009 Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation

The Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University has announced the winners of the 2009 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation.

The Center for Court Innovation, a New York-based nonprofit think tank that helps courts and criminal justice agencies aid victims, reduce crime and improve public trust in the justice system, is the recipient of the $100,000 first-place prize—an award made possible in large part through the generosity of The Coca-Cola Foundation.

Founded as a public-private partnership between the New York State Unified Court System and the Fund for the City of New York, the Center serves as the court’s independent research and development arm, creating demonstration projects that test new ideas. The Center’s projects include community courts, drug courts, reentry courts, domestic violence courts and mental-health courts.

This year’s second-place winner (to receive $7,500) is Urban Farming, a Detroit-based organization that plants gardens on unused land and in other spaces (such as rooftops and “edible walls” on building exteriors) to grow produce for people in the inner-city who are food insecure. The organization’s fenceless gardens allow people to pick food for free at any time, day or night, without compromising their dignity. The third-place winner (to receive $5,000) is the Population Media Center in Shelburne, Vt. It uses serialized melodramas (such as prime-time soap operas), written and produced in the local languages of participating countries, to impart lessons about family planning, avoidance of AIDS, the elevation of the status of women and the prevention of child exploitation.

The Drucker Institute will honor the first-place winner and two runners-up at a gala dinner in Los Angeles on Dec. 10. The keynote speaker at the event will be David Paine, an expert on how social media is transforming the face of volunteering in America and the president and co-founder of MyGoodDeed, the nonprofit that helped establish Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. This year’s award dinner is part of the Drucker Centennial, a global celebration marking the 100th birthday of Peter Drucker.

At the heart of the Center for Court Innovation’s work is a philosophy that, rather than simply processing cases like widgets in a factory, the justice system should focus on achieving better outcomes for victims, defendants and communities. By pioneering the concept of “problem-solving justice,” the Center has helped shift how judicial performance is measured. Rather than simply counting how many cases can be processed in a set period of time, the Center asks courts to define their measurement of success differently, by asking questions such as: What impact does case processing have on crime? Do defendants comply with court orders? Is it possible to improve perceptions of fairness?

“What the Center is doing is a great example of the way Peter Drucker defined innovation: change that creates a new dimension of performance,” said Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute. “Through its work, the Center has literally changed the way that the major players in the system—judges, attorneys, criminal justice officials—think about their jobs and the impact they’re having. Through its community-court model, the Center has been able to take low-level offenders and give them a chance to repair the harm they’ve done and be reintegrated into the fabric of their neighborhoods. Victims, meanwhile, are given a greater voice in the process and have enjoyed enhanced safety.

“It is also fitting that the Center is a public-private partnership,” Wartzman added. “Drucker believed strongly that for society to be healthy, each sector has a vital role to play.”

The judges for the Drucker Award—Wartzman; Karen Baker, California’s Secretary of Service and Volunteering; Allison Graff-Weisner, executive director of City Year Los Angeles; Ira Jackson, dean of the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management; Geneva Johnson, secretary of the Leader to Leader Institute’s Board of Governors; and C. William Pollard, chairman emeritus of ServiceMaster Co.—were particularly impressed with the results that the Center has achieved. For instance, in southwest Brooklyn, major crime has declined by 50% since the opening of the organization’s Red Hook Community Justice Center. At the same time, some 78% of local residents now approve of the courts, up from just 12% before Red Hook was launched.

Greg Berman, director of the Center, noted that he and his colleagues are thrilled to win the Drucker Award. “There is no higher honor in our book,” Berman said. “We’re enormously proud to be associated with the past winners of this prize and with the spirit of Peter Drucker. Like Drucker, we believe in the transformative potential of the social sector. We have worked enormously hard over the past 15 years to reform the justice system, both here in New York and around the world. The Drucker Award will give us a booster shot of momentum as we continue to advance our vision of a more effective and humane justice system.”

The Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation has been given annually since 1991 to recognize existing programs that have made a real difference in the lives of the people they serve. Cash prizes are designed to celebrate, inspire and further the work of innovative social-sector organizations based in the United States. Thanks to funding from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the first-place award will be increased to $100,000 through at least 2015, up from the $35,000 prize of previous years.