Exemplary Programs Awards

An Exemplary Program is a designation awarded to programs operated within Ohio’s Community Action Network that have been expertly evaluated and determined to be innovative and creative anti-poverty programs and initiatives. Each awardee is recognized due to the successful development and implementation of the program or initiative, and for demonstrating outstanding results and outcomes.

Formerly known as OACAA’s Best Practice Awards, in 2015 the awards program transitioned to Exemplary Programs under the guidance of The Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Beginning with the 2019 Exemplary Program Nominations, the Association partnered with Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs to direct the program and evaluations.

Changes in 2024:

  • Exemplary Awards nominations will transition to accepting nominations every other year instead of annually, and will cover a two-year span of initiatives eligible for nomination.
  • Though all nominations meeting the exemplary threshold will receive the designation, the highest scoring nomination will receive a $1,000 monetary award.

We recognize one of the factors that make Community Action a unique network, is our agencies’ ability to create programs just as unique as the communities they serve. Because of that, Exemplary Programs do not need to be replicable in other communities.

See our list below of previous Exemplary Program Award winners. Examples of exemplary programs or actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Job creation
  • Specific job training
  • Various work, family and individual supports
  • Support for crisis situations or emergency services
  • Help for recently incarcerated
  • Services for those suffering from addiction, etc.

Please note: programs receive Exemplary Program Award designations, not agencies. Agencies may publicize the program as receiving the award, though may not, for example, include the program moniker on their agency letterhead.

2024 Exemplary Program Awards: Nominations OPEN through April 30, 2024.

Submission Requirements:

  • Your agency must be an OACAA member in good standing.
  • The program must have been in existence for enough time to document outcomes and results. Typically, this is at least one year.
  • The program must have been carried out during the 2022 or 2023 calendar years.
  • Programs must fall within the ROMA Individual, Family, or Community Domains.
  • Nominations must be signed by the Executive Director and Board Chair.
  • Submit multiple programs and initiatives operated at the same member agency in separate applications.


  1. Complete one Nomination Form for each program/initiative. Please view the scoring rubric for guidance.
  2. Identify the ROMA Individual and Family Domain(s) that best describes the program.
  3. Respond thoroughly and completely to the submission prompts/questions. Attachments are limited to no more than ten (10) pages, though no attachments are required.
  4. Submit the signed nomination electronically (PDF) to: The submission deadline is 5:00 p.m. EST, April 30, 2024. 
  5. Promptly respond to any questions received from Ohio University seeking additional information or clarification.

Applicants will receive feedback on the nomination, including strengths, weaknesses, and areas to improve upon, if any. Awardees will be notified in mid-June. Awards will be presented during the 2024 Annual Summer Conference, which will be announced on OACAA's website. Press releases will be sent to awardees’ local media outlets notifying them of your award.

2024 Nomination Resources: 

Previous Awards
Scroll to, and click on the year you are interested in seeing past exemplary awards from. Years are organized in descending order from the current year to 2016.
    Previous Awards
    Awardees prior to 2016 were recognized under the previous Best Practices Awards. Beginning in 2016, awardees are recognized with Exemplary Program Awards.