CUBE Annual Award for Urban Excellence

Honoring Urban School Boards That Are Making a Difference

Local school boards are leaders of public education in their communities. School boards are charged with the responsibility to create the conditions within their district that lead to improved student achievement. Creating optimal conditions requires boards to align resources and foster a culture within the district that supports and rewards the work of educators in improving student achievement. School boards articulate the educational mission of the district and garner the public support and resources needed to achieve that mission.

The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) recognizes excellence in school board governance by presenting the Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence. Award winners share their ideas promote best and promising practices at CUBE conferences and through CUBE publications. These school boards serve as a resource for other CUBE districts, sharing how effective governance is essential in helping all urban school boards improve.

NSBA encourages all CUBE members to apply, particularly those school boards who are showing growth, innovating with policy, and who are eager to be an exemplar to other urban boards. School boards will be judged on a variety of measures across four core areas of urban school board governance:

School Board Performance
Academic Improvement
Educational Equity
Community Engagement

The 14th CUBE Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence will be presented at the 2017 CUBE Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA on September 29, 2017. We hope you will join us.

The Award

Up to three CUBE member school board applicants will be selected for their excellence in governance and awarded the CUBE Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence at the 2017 CUBE Annual Conference. One school board in each of three district size categories will be awarded. The size categories are:

Small-Size Urban Districts (under 30,000 students)
Mid-Size Urban Districts (30,000 - 60,000 students)
Large-Size Urban Districts (60,000+ students)

The winning school boards will receive the following benefits:

  • recognition in CUBE programming as an exemplary urban school board;
  • promotion in national, state, and local outlets as well as social media;
  • a feature in a special edition of CUBE’s advocacy magazine, the Urban Advocate, and updates in subsequent issues, as well as other NSBA publications;
  • a specially-designed infographic to use as a communications tool with community; and
  • a $2,500 monetary prize to be used by the school board to advance its goals.

All school boards that apply for the award will be rewarded for participating in the judging process by:

  • having the opportunity for recognition by the nationally prestigious Council of Urban Boards of Education;
  • receiving an assessment of your school board’s progress in the four core areas of urban district governance; and
  • making a contribution to the knowledge base of best practices in urban school board governance.

Award Criteria and Information

To apply for the CUBE Annual Award, your school board must complete the online application. 

Your application will be judged by a panel of judges selected by Equity Department Staff.

*Note that if a judge drops out, the Program Director, Equity Programming will fill in.

The components of the application include:

  • A board roster that lists Board members and:
    • how long each member has served; and
    • at-large or regional representation.
  • A narrative statement of 1,500 – 1,800 words that addresses how your school board demonstrates excellence across the four core areas of urban school board governance. Your narrative must:
    • focus on the role and actions of the school board, not the superintendent or the district in general;
    • succinctly respond to the questions that accompany each of the four core areas; and
    • present at least one brief example of how your board has made a positive impact in each of the four areas.
  • A brief statement (300 – 400 words) from the school board chair about how the board will use the benefits of winning the award to meet its goals.
  • Supportive materials that provide evidence of excellence in the four core areas. (All supportive materials must specify the board role or have a statement attached that speaks to the board role as it relates to the document.) For example:
    • school board policies
    • district mission and vision statement
    • state or national awards or other recognition
    • print or online media coverage
    • participation in research studies
    • board self-evaluation tools
    • board meeting agendas
    • videos or transcripts of board meetings
    • outcomes of community engagement projects
    • other relevant documentation
  • A three-year district profile that includes student test scores, teacher evaluation data, dropout rates, minority college attendance rates, demographics in Advanced Placement/IB classes, and other key indicators of district performance.

Important Notes:

  • Each applicant school board must be a member in good standing with its state school boards association.
  • Up to one CUBE member district school board will be selected for its excellence in school governance from each of three district size categories:
    • Small-Size Urban Districts (under 30,000 students)
    • Mid-Size Urban Districts (30,000 - 60,000 students)
    • Large-Size Urban Districts (60,000+ students).
  • The content of your application will be accessible only to the judges and NSBA staff.
  • The judges reserve the right to seek additional information other sources, such as material from the district’s website, phone interviews with key personnel, or a media scan.
  • The judging and selection process will be managed exclusively by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) under the auspices of the CUBE program.
  • By submitting this application your school board commits to sending at least one representative (at your district’s expense) to present if your board is selected to win.
  • The winning school board(s) will receive complimentary conference registrations for the board chair and superintendent. All other attendees from your district must pay the full conference registration fee.
  • Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on June 16, 2017 to be considered

If you have any questions, please contact Myra Maxwell, Sr. Program Associate, Equity & Governance, at 703-838-6716 or

What are the Four Core Areas districts will be judged on?

For more information click here to read a short PDF detailing the 4 Core Areas.

How Do I Apply?

The 2017 CUBE Annual Award Application is closed and no longer accepting applications”

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