WASHINGTON, DC – Region Nine Development Commission, based in Mankato, Minnesota, will be awarded the 2016 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation for Creating a Dementia Friendly Community. 

Creating a Dementia Friendly Community began in August 2014 when Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) was awarded funds from ACT on Alzheimer’s to begin the Mankato/North Mankato Act on Alzheimer’s toolkit for making the community dementia friendly. ACT on Alzheimer’s is a volunteer-driven, statewide collaboration working to prepare Minnesota for the personal, social and budgetary impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. The initiative was not a top down approach, but rather that brought numerous community residents together ranging from city officials to caregivers, all with a common goal of increasing dementia awareness and improving the quality of life for all that dementia touches. This initiative is a proactive step towards addressing the current and growing challenges the region will face as cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias increase with the aging population.

The Mankato/North Mankato ACT team was also honored to be one of three action communities included in the statewide Alzheimer’s Association’s Purple Gala promotional video. The personal and social media outreach done by RNDC has captured the attention of local television, radio and newspapers which has helped to increase awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.

At the time of this project, Minnesota was the only state in the nation seeking to make communities dementia-friendly. Since then, a national initiative has been started, built upon the 34 dementia-friendly communities in Minnesota. RNDC is currently the only regional development organization in the nation to work on a program of this type. In doing so, RNDC has been able to increase cross-sector engagement while forming new partnerships within the region.

NADO is a Washington, DC-based association that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies. The association’s Innovation Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and partnering organizations for improving the economic and community competitiveness of our nation’s regions and local communities.  Award-winning projects will be honored during NADO’s 2016 Annual Training Conference, held October 15-18 in San Antonio, TX.

“Since 1986 through its Innovation Award program, NADO has recognized the transformative work regional development organizations perform every day. Award winning projects showcase best practices across the country in regional development that support prosperous communities, stronger local economies, and improved quality of life for residents,” explained NADO Executive Director Joe McKinney. “We appreciate Region Nine Development Commission’s efforts to assist the region’s aging population to support dementia friendly communities. This initiative demonstrates the power of partnerships and collaboration to address important regional challenges.”

RNDC has won the Innovation Award the past three years and was the only Minnesota recipient this year.

“We are honored to be the recipient of such a prestigious award for our work helping to create dementia-friendly communities,” expressed RNDC Executive Director Nicole Griensewic Mickelson. “Through this initiative, RNDC was able to help the community’s caregivers, service providers, businesses, local units of government and persons living with the disease resulting in a stronger, healthier and more informed community.”