Pioneer Institute Announces Winner of 27th Annual Better Government Competition

NYU President Emeritus, Massachusetts Governor to Headline Awards Gala

BOSTON – Pioneer Institute is pleased to announce that Purdue University’s “Back a Boiler” program is the winner of the 27th annual Better Government Competition. This year, the topic was making higher education and career training options affordable and effective. The competition received over 80 entries from think tanks, universities, job training programs, nonprofits, and state government agencies across the nation. The winner, four runners up, and four special recognition recipients will be honored at the Better Government Competition Awards Gala on September 24th at the Seaport Hotel in Boston.

The Keynote Speaker is John Sexton, President Emeritus of New York University, and the Benjamin F. Butler Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus of the NYU School of Law. He received the TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence for his extraordinary achievements as NYU’s President, and the Institute of International Education’s Duggan Award for Mutual Understanding.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will deliver remarks at the event. The Baker administration has made job training a policy priority, establishing the Workforce Skills Cabinet to bridge the gap between employer needs and employee preparedness.

“Our country is at a crisis point where, on one side, the models for providing and financing higher education and workforce training are changing fast and, on the other, we have an old system that has saddled the young with debt that is a drag on their ability to pursue their dreams and fully participate in the economy,” said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios. “The ideas Pioneer is honoring aim to allow Massachusetts to reimagine how we provide access to affordable higher education and training.”

Purdue’s Back a Boiler” Fund is a tuition payment alternative to federal or private loans for undergraduate students. The Income Share Agreement (ISA) program connects undergraduate upperclassmen with individual investors who cover some of the student’s tuition. Repayment is made upon employment in the form of a percentage of the graduate’s income over a predetermined number of years. Other universities are beginning to consider ISAs as a viable option to alleviate the student debt crisis. This entry was submitted by Mary-Claire Cartwright and Cynthia Sequin from the Purdue Research Foundation.

Purdue University will receive the $10,000 top prize, which it will donate to the “Back a Boiler” ISA Fund. The runners up, described below, will each receive $1,000.

Colleen J. Quint, President & CEO, Alfond Scholarship Foundation: An investment program that grants every child born in Maine $500, intended for future postsecondary education costs.

Dr. Robert I. Lerman, Institute Fellow, Urban Institute: A detailed outline of steps Massachusetts organizations can take to increase apprenticeship opportunities to address youth unemployment and the skills gap.

Dennis Dio Parker, Developer, Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education: An education model that trains students in three career pathway options – technician, engineer, and business leader – preparing them for employment upon completion of the program.

Karen P. Morgan, Director, Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards: An extension of an existing apprenticeship program that introduces high school juniors and seniors to job opportunities for high school credit.

The 2018 winners were selected by a distinguished panel of judges with backgrounds in education, government, business, and workforce development:

  • L. (Peter) Alcock, Former Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee; Pine Manor College Board of Trustees
  • Brian C. Broderick, Partner, Hemenway & Barnes, LLP; Senior Vice President, Hemenway Trust Company; Trustee, Wellesley College; and Board of Directors, Pioneer Institute
  • Charles D. Chieppo, Principal, Chieppo Strategies, LLC; Senior Fellow, Governingand Pioneer Institute
  • Stefano Falconi, Managing Director & Higher Education Practice Leader, Berkeley Research Group, LLC
  • Bob LePage, Assistant Secretary of Career Education in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education; former Vice President of Foundation and Workforce Training for Springfield Technical Community College; and former Executive Vice President of Career Pathways


Four special recognition awardees will also be acknowledged at the gala:

Dr. Adrienne Y. Smith, Dean of the School of Engineering Technologies and Mathematics: An affordable and flexible bachelor’s degree program that combines technical training from STCC with professional studies courses from Northeastern University.

 Krishna Rajagopal, Dean for Digital Learning and Professor of Physics and Tracy Tan, Director, MicroMasters: Master’s level online classes taught by MIT professors, offering credentials toward career development or as a foundation for an accelerated master’s program at MIT.

Liz Marino, Chief of Growth and Strategy, Duet: A personalized advising program that supplements SNHU’s online and project-based courses offering students one-on-one academic and career coaching.

Andrew Sears, President, City Vision University: An affordable educational option that offers degrees in Addiction Studies, Non-profit Management, Business, and Urban Missions for low-income individuals who want to help their own impoverished communities.

At the Better Government Competition Awards Gala in September, a compendium of winning entries will be distributed to attendees; Pioneer will also send it to policy makers and opinion leaders in Massachusetts and across the country.

Pioneer Institute’s Better Government Competition, founded in 1991, is an annual citizens’ ideas contest that rewards some of the nation’s most innovative public policy proposals. The Better Government Competition Awards Gala attracts hundreds of leaders in business, government, and the non-profit sector. Past speakers have included: The Right Honorable James D. Bolger, New Zealand Ambassador; John Stossel, former ABC News correspondent; U.S. Senator Alan Simpson; Massachusetts Governors Mitt Romney, William Weld, Paul Cellucci, Deval Patrick, and Charlie Baker; David Gergen, advisor to four presidents; Michelle Rhee, head of StudentsFirst; U.S. Senator Scott Brown; financial publisher Steve Forbes; Boston Mayor Martin Walsh; former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis; Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy; and Joseph F. Coughlin, Founder and Director of the MIT AgeLab.


Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

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