Read about a local community improvement effort.

On May 2, five communities began their collaborative journeys toward community performance excellence.

"Our vision is that communities that participate in this learning collaborative will be national role models for community performance excellence through ongoing collaboration," said Lowell Kruse, Communities of Excellence 2026 Co-Founder and Chair. "These groups will become the catalyst in a movement to reshape the future of America's communities."

The five communities are Brookfield/Marceline, Missouri; Kanawha County, West Virginia; Maryville, Missouri; San Diego County's South Region, California; and West Kendall, Florida.

"Recognizing the diverse challenges our communities face," Kruse continued, "the Learning Collaborative will assist each of our communities to more effectively and efficiently address the root causes of critical issues, including the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, childhood obesity in Southern San Diego County, economic development in West Kendall, and the need to grow wealth through entrepreneurship in rural Northwest Missouri."

"Communities of Excellence 2026 uses a framework derived from the Baldrige Excellence Framework, a systems approach to improving organizational performance," said Stephanie Norling, Managing Director of Communities of Excellence 2026. "The Baldrige approach includes sharing challenges and best practices among these communities."

"Communities can be stronger when they work together across the various parts of the community to implement solutions to the grand challenges they face," said Norling. "We also believe that these communities will be even stronger when they have the opportunity to work with other communities in a positive and engaging learning environment."