“Bright Ideas” program - Ash Center - Harvard University
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized the Port of Houston Partners in Maritime Education as part of the 2015 Bright Ideas program. This year's cohort includes 124 programs from all levels of government--school districts; county, city, state, and federal agencies; as well as public-private partnerships--that are at the forefront in innovative government action.
Since 2009, the Port of Houston Authority has been tackling the growing need for skilled maritime workers by organizing maritime academies at four area school districts at the high school level to introduce youth to maritime transportation systems and career pathways as mariners, and in shipbuilding and repair, and port operations. The Port of Houston Partners in Maritime Education effort has also helped create two- and four-year maritime degree programs and training at higher education institutions so that graduates from the high school programs can continue their maritime studies.
"Industry involvement is important to the success of the Port of Houston Authority's maritime education program," said Janiece Longoria, Chairman of the Port Commission. "At the Port of Houston, every industry stakeholder from the U.S. Coast Guard to the barge operators to the Houston Pilots were asked for their guidance and input as the program was developed and as it has progressed.
"In a short time, the maritime academy program in area high schools has become one of the premier maritime education efforts in the U.S., and San Jacinto College is now building a maritime education campus contiguous to the Port of Houston," said Chairman Longoria.
"The Bright Ideas program demonstrates that often seemingly intractable problems can be creatively and capably tackled by small groups of dedicated, civic-minded individuals," said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. "As exemplified by this year's Bright Ideas, making government work better doesn't always require massive reforms and huge budgets. Indeed, we are seeing that, in many ways, an emphasis on efficiency and adaptability
can have further-reaching effects than large-scale reforms."
This is the fourth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching and have sufficient operational resources and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center's Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.