Applying for a Wisconsin Forward Award is transformational for many organizations. The process is both impactful and satisfying. Receiving Baldrige-based recognition is acknowledgment that your organization’s processes align with the standards of excellence from similar organizations around the world. Any public or private organization located in Wisconsin may participate in the Wisconsin Forward Award program.  Sub-units of larger systems are also eligible to participate.

Whether returning as an applicant or just beginning your involvement with the Baldrige Criteria, the knowledge and insight you gain from documenting your responses to the Criteria questions, and receiving feedback from external evaluators (called Examiners) will help your organization improve key business results, as well as better engage and satisfy customers, stakeholders and your workforce.  We think of it as a low cost, high impact consulting service.  We are  happy to answer questions, or provide additional training and resources to help you optimize your organization or community.

Assessment and Recognition Tiers

The information below is designed to help you determine the best path for your organization. We are happy to discuss options, timelines and resources with you, as well as ways we can support you and your organization.

Wisconsin Forward Award  50-page narrative application that is accepted twice a year,  in winter and summer. This option is closely aligned to the national Baldrige award process.
There are two parts to this type of application:

Organizations submit an Intent-to-Apply Form, fee, and related materials. The information provided enables the Forward Award administrators to verify organizational eligibility. The information also provides a basis for assigning Examiners. Applicants receive confirmation of their eligibility in writing.

Application Package
Organizations submit an Application  Package that includes two key components — an Organizational Profile (not to exceed five pages) and responses to the Baldrige Criteria (not to exceed 50 pages), and the application fee. In responding to the Criteria found in the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework, each applicant provides information and data on the organization’s quality improvement and performance management processes and related results.  (Note: applications can substitute Baldrige Express survey findings, and expanded organizational profile and key business results in lieu of writing the narrative.  Contact us if you are interested in this option.)

Recognition Level
Depending on the findings of the Examiner team and Panel of Judges, applicants could be recognized at Proficiency, Mastery or Excellence levels.

Who should apply at this level? A 50 page narrative application is most suitable for organizations that:

  • Conduct strategic planning
  • Have a set of measures and targets
  • Have identified, and are beginning to document, and measure the effectiveness of key customer, product, service, business and support processes
  • Have human resource plans
  • Have generally positive results over time (trends) in many to most key business areas and are using comparative and benchmark data to set targets
  • Most importantly, are open to continued feedback for improvement, and want to celebrate their successes!

Download  the application package (link includes intent to apply forms).  Beginning with the summer 2019 cycle, applicants should use 2019-20 Baldrige Excellence Framework.  You can preview and  purchase sector-specific Baldrige Excellence Framework booklets using this link. Business/NonprofitEducationHealth Care


Wisconsin Fast Forward is the beginning-to-intermediate-level application—it’s a stepping-stone for organizations aspiring to complete a full 50-page written Wisconsin Forward Award application. Organizations submit a Fast Forward self assessment (there is no page limit) based on the basic and overall requirements of the Criteria for Performance Excellence found in the Baldrige Excellence Builder.  Fast Forward applicants are recognized at the annual awards gala to showcase their pursuit of advancing to higher levels of performance. The application fee for the Wisconsin Fast Forward includes a $300 intent to apply fee at the time you notify us you will be submitting a Fast Forward application.  The application fee for Wisconsin Fast Forward is $2,750 or $2,250 for WCPE members.

Who should apply at this level? The Fast Forward application is most suitable for organizations that:

  • Are new to internal organizational self-assessments and the Baldrige/WFA Criteria
  • Want to engage employees in the organization’s management practices and related results
  • Have some, but not most, of their key processes documented in some format
  • Have favorable measures/results, and have started to trend data and use comparative data

The Baldrige Excellence Builder is a free resource from the national Baldrige Performance Excellence Program that answers key questions for improving your organization’s performance.

Wisconsin Fast Forward applications are accepted throughout the year.

Wisconsin Challenger Profile helps organizations get started by responding to straight forward questions about their organizational context and key results which will help lay groundwork for future improvement efforts—as well as future applications.  Challenger Profile applications are accepted throughout the year.  The fee includes a planning session that will help lay the groundwork for a Fast Forward or narrative application. Challenger applicants are recognized at our annual awards gala. Wisconsin Challenger Profile applications are accepted throughout the year. The application fee for the Wisconsin Challenger is $750 The fee for current WCPE members is $575.

Who should apply at this level? Applicants who seek to align the organization by obtaining agreement on key contextual and strategic information, as well as key results.  Baldrige asks organizations to prioritize the “vital few.”  A Challenger application urges organizations to identify and focus on the most key organizational factors–and this often results in rich discussion and learning.

Collaborative Assessments are appropriate for organizations either just getting started with the Baldrige framework and/or already on the journey but interested in more consultative (prescriptive) feedback via on site interviews.  Organizations can customize the focus of the assessment, which may be based on a past application, an organizational profile, results and interviews, or a combination that best meets the needs of the organization. We use sub-contracted consultants approved and managed by the WCPE  (and selected by you, the organization). Consultants  will be highly skilled in the Baldrige framework. The assessment may also use a complementary team of volunteer sector experts, facilitated by the consultant. Contact us to discuss your needs, and learn more about options and time frames.  Collaborative assessments are conducted outside of the award process at a time and pace that works best for you and your organization.