Cook County Honored with Record 54 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has honored Cook County with 54 achievement awards recognizing innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

“These awards acknowledge the initiatives we have undertaken to ensure that our residents receive vital services and have the opportunity to thrive in our community,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This record number of awards recognizes our dedicated County employees who launch these critical programs and uplifts Cook County as a national leader.”

The 2024 awards also include one “Best in Category” recognition for Cook County Health’s “Addressing Food Insecurity among Medicaid Members: FoodCare by CountyCare initiative.” As part of a broader health plan strategy to address social drivers of health including food insecurity, CountyCare Health Plan developed the FoodCare program, a nutrition program to improve the health and quality of life of CountyCare members. FoodCare is a no-cost holistic program intended to drive community involvement, address member food insecurity and manage diet-related disease prevalence. 

The Cook County Office of the President won for its Medical Debt Relief program. Leveraging American Rescue Plan investments, President Toni Preckwinkle committed to creating and implementing the first-ever government-funded medical debt relief program. The innovative $12 million program will eventually retire an estimated $1 billion in medical debt on behalf of Cook County residents. This initiative will improve the health, wellness and financial stability of the residents involved.  

The Office of the President also won for the Property Tax (PTAX) Reform Group, which is focused on providing operational updates and advancing system reforms. The PTAX group is comprised of staff from all the offices of each elected official involved with the property tax process. Operationally, the group is focused on returning the property tax first and second installment bills to a predictable and reliable schedule for all taxpayers, while also overseeing the implementation of a new technology system to help modernize data transfer and storage. The group has contracted researchers to conduct thorough analysis of the features of the property tax system, their effects and begin exploring possible long-term system reforms.

The Bureau of Asset Management won for the Build Up Cook initiative, which helps under-resourced communities access infrastructure funds, implement projects and set up new internal systems and processes around capital investment. The Build Up Cook model cultivates partnerships to provide wraparound construction support to address urgent needs, while aligning County and partner resources to build local capacity over the long term through fundraising, analysis, training and ad-hoc project support. 

The Bureau of Economic Development was recognized for the Source Grant program, a $50 million investment in small businesses to help stabilize their operations, foster recovery and resiliency and advance equity in the post pandemic economy. Through an equitable, complex and transparent evaluation process, the County reviewed over 16,000 applications and awarded 3,000 small businesses with grants.

The Bureau of Administration won for the first Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM Center) in the State of Illinois. This is a comprehensive and permanent recycling drop-off facility where residents can dispose of electronics, computers, televisions, polystyrene foam, clothing and textiles, small furniture items and appliances, personal healthcare equipment, traditional household recyclable materials and more. The CHaRM Center is centrally located near municipalities in the County that offer no curbside recycling services, have the lowest municipal recycling rates and are designated environmental justice areas. Since the opening of the CHaRM Center, over 85,000 pounds of materials have been collected and recycled from more than 2,500 residents who live in 70 different municipalities.

Awards are given in 18 categories that reflect the comprehensive services counties provide.

The winning programs and categories are as follows:  

Community and Economic Development

  • Interactive Financial Dashboards for ARPA Programs (Bureau of Economic Development)
  • Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership (Bureau of Economic Development)
  • Neighborhood Revitalization Brownfield Remediation Program (Bureau of Administration)
  • New Affordable Housing Program Provides Property Tax Relief (Cook County Assessor’s Office)
  • Starting Block Grants: A Capacity Building Grant Initiative (Justice Advisory Council)
  • The Cook County 2023 Source Grant (Bureau of Economic Development)
  • The Metals Hub (Bureau of Economic Development)

County Administration and Management

  • Property Taxes in Cook County (Office of the President)
  • Record and Information Management Improvements (Bureau of Administration)
  • Strategic Engagement to Encourage Employee Retention and Recruitment (Cook County Assessor’s Office)

County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability

  • Build Up Cook (Bureau of Asset Management)
  • Businesses Reducing Impact on the Environment (Bureau of Administration)
  • Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (Bureau of Administration)
  • Cook County and WasteNot Partnership (Bureau of Asset Management)
  • Hydrologic Reconnection of Powderhorn Lake to Wolf Lake Restoration Project (Forest Preserve)
  • LeadCare +TAP (Bureau of Economic Development)
  • LED Light Replacement (Bureau of Asset Management)
  • Youth Internship Program (Bureau of Asset Management)

Criminal Justice and Public Safety

  • Cook County Forensic Reliability and Racial Impact Project (Cook County Public Defender)
  • Cook County Public Defender Immigration Division (Cook County Public Defender)
  • Customer Service Call Center (Circuit Court)
  • Domestic Violence Survivor Center (Circuit Court)
  • Transforming Public Conversations about Community Safety (Cook County Public Defender)


  • Addressing Food Insecurity among Medicaid Members: FoodCare by CountyCare (Cook County Health)
  • Food is Medicine (Cook County Health, Commissioner Dennis Deer)
  • Heart Institute Excellence Program (Cook County Health)
  • How Analytics and Operations Supported CCH’s Mission to Care for New Arrivals (Cook County Health)
  • Medicaid Member Demographics Improvement: A Strategy for Engagement (Cook County Health)
  • Medical Debt Relief Initiative (Office of the President)
  • Medical Examiner Jail Overdose Prevention Program (Bureau of Administration)
  • Behavioral Health Care Initiative (Housing Authority of Cook County)
  • Project REACCH-OUT’s Bridge Clinic (Cook County Health)
  • Provident Hospital Growth Program (Cook County Health)
  • Sal the Sepsis Sea Otter (Cook County Health)
  • The Great Unwinding: Engaging Medicaid Members During Redetermination (Cook County Health)
  • Vets and Pets (Bureau of Administration)

Human Services

  • Cook County Medical Examiner Family Services Plan (Bureau of Administration)
  • Honor Grants (Bureau of Administration)
  • Promoting Engagement to Enhance Recovery Program (Cook County Health)

Information Technology

  • Cook County Technology Academy (Bureau of Administration)
  • Data Center Consolidation and Hyper-Convergence (Bureau of Technology)
  • Enhancing Healthcare Access through Express Care Initiative (Cook County Health)
  • Unified Communications (Bureau of Technology)
  • Unincorporated Cook County Zoning Requirements (Bureau of Technology)


  • Legal Resources Access and Training (Bureau of Administration)
  • Public Safety Partnership (Bureau of Administration)

Personnel Management, Employment and Training

  • Enhancing Transparency and Equity as an Employer of Choice (Bureau of Human Resources)
  • Improving Employee Wellness as a Precursor to Better Patient Outcomes (Cook County Health)
  • Professional Development Division (Cook County Public Defender)
  • Provident Scholarship Fund (Cook County Health)


  • The Development of the Population Health Epidemiology Surveillance Program (Cook County Health)

Risk and Emergency Management

  • EMRS Private Partnership (Bureau of Administration)


  • Cook County Bike Plan (Bureau of Administration)


  • Cook County EMRS CERT Initiative (Bureau of Administration)