The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government announced its 25 honorees for 2013 on Wednesday, May 1 -- a list of programs that represent the best in government thinking. Since the awards program began in 1985, more than 400 innovative programs have received more than $22 million in grant funding.

“These Top 25 innovations in government offer real, tangible ways to protect our most disadvantaged citizens, educate the next-generation workforce, and utilize data analytics to enhance government performance,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government program at the Ash Center.

The awards program's "Culture of Innovation" category singled out several federal programs using online collaboration and crowdsourcing to help tackle vexing problems in the public domain. The General Services Administration's Challenge.gov program, for example, enlists the public's help in submitting ideas for posted challenges.

Two New York City initiatives are among those being recognized by the Ash Center in the "Helping Troubled Neighborhoods" category. Homebase targets families on the brink of homelessness with support services aimed at keeping them in their homes, while the Office of Financial Empowerment helps low-income residents learn to manage their finances.

Other top 25 honorees are being acknowledged for "Environmental Revitalization," including the Yukon River Tribes' effort to protect the Yukon River through its Watershed Council. The EPA's Re-Powering America's Land Initiative preserves and revitalizes land resources.

The fourth category awards contributions to "The Next Generation Workforce," such as Alaska's Native Science and Engineering Program and Santa Clara County, Calif.'s Rocketship Education charter schools.

An overall winner, as well as four finalists, will be selected from the list of 25, and announced in the fall, according to The Washington Post.

Memorial Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Photo from Shutterstock