Three Organizations Win 2021 Baldrige Awards for Performance Excellence

Three U.S. organizations will receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s only presidential award for performance excellence. Celebrating robust quality management systems, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award evaluates businesses and nonprofit organizations in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Excellence Framework: leadership; strategy; customers; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce; operations; and results.

An independent panel of judges recommends the awardees based on a lengthy assessment process. The 2021 winners, the Charter School of San Diego, Mid-America Transplant and MidwayUSA, are all repeat winners who have used the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to achieve sustained improvements.

“These award recipients demonstrate that a sustained commitment to quality management can lead to impressive results,” said James Olthoff, who is performing the nonexclusive duties of the under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and NIST director. “I hope their accomplishments will encourage others to learn more about the Baldrige Program and how it can help them succeed in any industry.”

The Charter School of San Diego (California) provides free, personalized education to students in grades 6-12 who are at risk of not graduating from high school through a hybrid in-person/online study program. Student performance for grades 6-8 and 11 in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress is double that of all competitors in English language arts and three times higher in math. Over the past five years, the school has increased the rate of students either graduating from high school or transitioning back to a traditional high school from 95.7% to 98.1%. It also maintained overall student and parent satisfaction levels of close to 100% from 2016-2021. In 2015, the Charter School of San Diego became the first charter school to win a Baldrige Award, and it now becomes the first two-time awardee in the “education” category.

Mid-America Transplant (St. Louis, Missouri) is a private nonprofit that organizes organ transplants and serves as an eye and tissue bank for 84 counties in Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. Adopting the Baldrige Framework in 2005 “with the goal of saving more lives” has helped it become one of the three top-performing organ procurement organizations nationwide, with more than 125 organs transplanted annually per 1 million population since 2017. Between 2003 and 2020, the organization showed a 167% increase in organs transplanted and a 385% increase in tissue donors, saving and healing thousands of lives. The organization was honored in the “nonprofit” category, in which it also won in 2015.

MidwayUSA (Columbia, Missouri) is a family-owned internet retailer offering products for shooting, hunting, fishing and the outdoors. It ranks in the top 3% of the best U.S. performers in customer satisfaction out of 3,500 internet retailers. It adopted the Baldrige Excellence Framework as its leadership and management guide in 2006 and was recognized in the “small business” category in 2009 and 2015. The company’s third award is in the “service” category, making it the second three-time Baldrige Award recipient.

Best Practice Awards

The Baldrige judges also may recognize best practices in one or more of the Baldrige Criteria categories by organizations that are candidates for the award but are not selected as winners. This year, the judges have chosen one organization for this honor: Adventist HealthCare, headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which is recognized for its role-model practices in leadership.

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established in 1987 to encourage U.S. businesses to adopt a robust, leadership-driven and customer-focused quality management system to improve their performance and sustainability, thereby improving our national competitiveness. Today the award recognizes organizations of all kinds that achieve sustainable excellence across all aspects of their operations. These organizations agree to share their best practices to help other organizations improve.

Over the award’s 34 years, more than 1,715 organizations have applied for the national award. The Alliance for Performance Excellence supports Baldridge-based state and regional programs, engaging over 2,000 applicants annually.

Since the first Baldrige Award recipients were recognized in 1988, 137 national-level awards have been presented to 124 organizations (including 11 two-time award recipients and two three-time recipients).

NIST manages the Baldrige Award in cooperation with the private sector. An independent panel of judges reviewed the evaluations performed by the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s all-volunteer Board of Examiners and recommended this year’s award recipients.

The 2021 Baldrige Award and past year awardees will showcase their best practices during the 33rd Quest for Excellence® conference in April 2022. An award ceremony to include the 2019 and 2020 Baldrige Award recipients is planned for April 3, 2022, at Gaylord National Harbor Resort in National Harbor, Maryland.

The Baldrige Program is a public-private partnership managed by NIST and funded in part through user fees and support from the Baldrige Foundation.

Skip to content