Have some questions? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
This section is the beginning of a compilation of answers to the questions most commonly asked. Just start by following one of the links below. If you can’t find the question you wanted to ask, don’t hesitate to contact us.
- What does Communities of Excellence do?
- What exactly do you mean by "Community"
- What is the Communities of Excellence Framework
- How can I get involved?
- How does COE fit within the Baldrige Enterprise?
- What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)?
- Why do new Baldrige Award categories require congressional approval?
- What does authorization of this new award category mean for communities?
- What is the difference between authorization and appropriation?
- How do communities get started?
- What’s next for Communities of Excellence?
Our organization assists community leaders in implementing the Communities of Excellence Framework. This framework is adapted from a validated systems improvement framework – Baldrige – that we believe will improve health status, educational attainment, economic vitality, and quality of life for community residents by focusing on improving overall community performance. For details on our services, visit our What We Do section.
Our organization assists community leaders in implementing the Communities of Excellence Framework. This framework is adapted from a validated systems improvement framework – Baldrige – that we believe will improve health status, educational attainment, economic vitality, and quality of life for community residents by focusing on improving overall community performance. For details on the services we provide, visit our What We Do section.
What exactly do you mean by "Community"
This is often the first question we are asked. We define community as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Our National Learning Collaborative includes small rural regions of 5000-10,000 people, cities, suburban areas, and urban regions as large as 500,000 people. What they have in common are cross-sector, inter-generational groups of formal and informal community leaders who are willing to commit the time, energy and resources to apply the principles of community performance excellence to their community with a committed backbone organization to support them.
The Communities of Excellence Framework includes a set of key questions for improving the performance of communities and the people who lead and live in them. Rather than prescribe how communities should structure their community leadership, shared initiatives or action plans, or what the mission, goals and measures should be, the framework asks you to make those decisions as a community with input from all key sectors and generations involved. View the Communities of Excellence Framework for more information.
We’re always on the lookout for individuals like you wanting to get involved. Visit our How To Help section to find out ways to donate or volunteer. Every Spring we issue a call for volunteer Examiners for the Communities of Excellence Assessment and Recognition Program. If you are interested contact us or join our mailing list for announcements.
How does COE fit within the Baldrige Enterprise?
The Baldrige Enterprise consists of five independent, mutually supporting entities. Together they form the most unique and successful Public-Private Partnership in the U.S. Government. In addition to Communities of Excellence, the entities are:
• The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). BPEP is the “public partner” designed to recognize and improve performance of the nation’s businesses, health care organizations, educational systems, and non-profit organizations and government agencies through defining, recognizing, and fostering quality and performance excellence.
• The Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Inc., also known as the Baldrige Foundation, was created as the private partner to the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program in 1988. Its mission is to ensure the long-term financial viability of the Baldrige Program and to support organizational performance excellence throughout the United States and the world.
• The Alliance for Performance Excellence, a nonprofit national network that aims to enhance the success and sustainability of 28 state, local, and sector Baldrige-based programs. Alliance members cover all 50 states and provide Baldrige-based assessments, recognition, and other offerings.
• The American Society for Quality (ASQ), which assists in the administration of the award program under a contract with NIST. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. ASQ champions people passionate about quality in more than 150 countries.
What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)?
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) is a presidential-level award that is presented to businesses and other organizations that demonstrate high levels of quality and performance excellence. Congress created the Award Program in 1987 to:
• Identify and recognize role-model businesses
• Establish criteria for evaluating improvement efforts
• Disseminate and share best practices.
Following expansion by Congress, Awards are now presented in six different categories: Manufacturing, Service company, Small business, Education, Healthcare, and Nonprofit/Government. Community will be the 7th category.
Why do new Baldrige Award categories require congressional approval?
The award program and award categories were established by Congress in The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987. The bill also set forth the process for expanding the award categories.
What does authorization of this new award category mean for communities?
Authorization of a new award category for communities is a critical step towards enabling communities across the country to be able to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, receive a detailed feedback report on their strengths and opportunities, and possibly earn presidential-level recognition for their efforts to improve the performance of their community. More importantly, the MBNQA allows for the identification of role model communities and the sharing of best practices from these communities across the United States and around the world.
What is the difference between authorization and appropriation?
Authorization bills establish, continue, or modify agencies or programs. Appropriations measures may provide spending for the agencies and programs previously authorized. While Congress has now authorized a new award category for Community, appropriation is still needed to secure funding to support the new award category.
How do communities get started?
When your community is ready to begin its journey to community performance excellence, the best place to start is by visiting our website at www.communitiesofexcellence2026.org. We currently offer a few different ways to get started, including an annual conference, a 6-week introductory course in the Spring, and our flagship program, the National Learning Collaborative of communities which begins every October. You can also volunteer as an examiner for our annual Assessment and Recognition Program. To learn more about Baldrige and Performance Excellence, you can visit the website of the national Baldrige Performance Excellence Program or connect with your local state or regional Baldrige-based program through the Alliance for Performance Excellence website.
What’s next for Communities of Excellence?
We are beginning a new phase of growth and development this year. We’ve learned a lot from the 26 communities involved in our National Learning Collaborative, and their success over the past five years is inspiring. Our new five-year plan includes three strategic areas of concentration:
• Actively Support an Energized, High Performing Baldrige Enterprise
• Increase Capability and Capacity to Support Communities
• Become the Center for Community Performance Excellence Resources and Knowledge
In addition to growing the number of communities using the Communities of Excellence Framework and pursuing performance excellence, we are adding many new tools and resources such as a community dashboard and community playbook. We are listening to the feedback from our first five cohorts of communities and working to provide the resources they need to reach their goals sooner.