The Excellence Award in Innovation recognizes a nonprofit organization that has utilized new models, solutions, or strategies to adapt to a changing environment or to find new ways of solving problems faced by the organization or the populations it serves. The finalists for the Excellence Award in Innovation are:

Calmer Choice

Calmer ChoiceCalmer Choice is a community-based organization that partners with local schools to teach students personal and practical skills to strengthen their resilience, manage and reduce the impact of stress, control their emotional responses, increase their sense of well-being, and improve their academics. Calmer Choice’s goal is to provide skills that will diminish the risk of violence, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors. Since it was founded, Calmer Choice has successfully provided a universal/primary prevention program to more than 15,000 Cape Cod children in programs held at 23 different schools across eight school districts. Researchers from Tufts University, Yale University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have identified positive benefits of the Calmer Choice program, with 86% of students using the skills they learned in tangible and meaningful ways.

Daily Table

Daily TableDaily Table is an innovative nonprofit retail grocery store founded to address both food insecurity and wasted food. Daily Table offers very low prices on groceries by working with a large network of growers, distributors, manufacturers, and other suppliers who donate their excess healthy food or provide special buying opportunities. The retail model is self-sustaining over time, creates jobs, and provides a convenient and dignified shopping experience. By increasing access to affordable and wholesome food, the organization helps reduce the effects of poor eating habits caused by challenging economic circumstances. Daily Table has recovered more than one million pounds of food that would have been wasted and currently sells 500,000 servings of nutritious food each month with the expectation that the servings will more than double when a second store opens this summer.

Enchanted Circle Theater

Enchanted Circle TheaterEnchanted Circle Theater (ECT) is a multi-service arts organization that engages, enhances, and inspires learning through the arts. Founded in 1976, ECT is a regional leader in the field of arts integration, using theater arts as a dynamic teaching tool in the classroom, on the stage, and throughout the community. ECT serves an essential need in education today by fostering creativity and critical thinking and bringing the joy back into learning. Its arts integration programs combine theater, dance, music, visual, media, and literary arts with academic and social curricula to improve academic achievement and support the development of social and emotional health. ECT works in schools, professional theaters, social service agencies, colleges, and universities, with people of all ages and abilities.

Latin American Health Alliance

Latin American Health AllianceThe mission of the Latin American Health Alliance (LAHA) is to identify and address the significant health disparities that exist for Latinos living in Greater Worcester. LAHA advocates for the Latino community and researches and responds to important social issues that affect the Worcester area Latino population. LAHA believed that by creating a grassroots, community-based organization focused on the individual needs of clients, it could create a forward-thinking approach to the growing opiate epidemic. By incorporating job training and transitional housing into its program, and by collaborating with multiple agencies, LAHA is better able to bring recovery to all of its residents. Since its opening, Café Reyes, LAHA’s job training program, has provided longer term transitional housing to 63 residents and job training for 95 men.