Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Cities Challenge offers $5 million to uncover ideas to make cities more successful

Sept. 16, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

Today we’re announcing the Knight Cities Challenge, a broad effort to uncover innovative ideas to make our cities more successful, and we’re investing $5 million to support projects that do this.

We don’t have preconceived notions on what winning ideas will look like, but the research on what matters to the success of cities is clear. Cities that want long-term success should stimulate increases in talent, opportunity and engagement.


Talent is critical because the percentage of college graduates in your population explains 58 percent of your metro area’s success (if you measure success by per capita income).  And talented people, who are among the most mobile groups in society, want to live in vibrant, diverse communities.

Opportunity is critical because it is fundamental to getting more people on the ladder of economic success. Cities that break down economic divides and provide opportunity to people from different backgrounds stimulate ideas and connections that enable their communities to thrive.

Global Detroit expands efforts to retain and attract immigrant talent

Sept. 16, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Steve Tobocman

Steve Tobocman is the director of Global Detroit, which Knight Foundation supports to accelerate talent and advance opportunity in Detroit, one of 26 Knight communities. Photo: A Detroit neighborhood soccer team reflects and benefits from the diversity of the community. Credit: Global Detroit

Southwest Detroit is frequently discussed as the one working-class neighborhood in Detroit that is revitalizing. It’s blessed by some of the most innovative and sophisticated nonprofit arts and community development corporations in the nation.  While the community (as defined by the new Detroit City Council districts) is 39 percent African-American, 39 percent Latino and 18 percent white, it accounts for about half of the 35,000 foreign-born residents in the city. The neighborhood’s emerging success and its demographic makeup are not a coincidence.

I first started working on neighborhood revitalization issues in Southwest Detroit—the neighborhood where my immigrant grandfather once lived—through the AmeriCorps national service program in 1995. Eight years later—after helping to start campaigns against illegal dumping and graffiti, leading local zoning battles as a lawyer, serving as a volunteer hockey coach and devoting my life to the neighborhood’s revitalization—I was elected to represent Southwest Detroit in the Michigan House, where I served for three terms—the maximum allowed.

Miami symposium helps preserve memories of the Great War

Sept. 15, 2014, 3:37 p.m., Posted by David Lawrence Jr.

WWI soldiers training in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Photo from the Boston Public Library on Flickr. 

David Lawrence Jr. is president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, a former publisher of the Miami Herald and a past trustee of History Miami. Knight Foundation and History Miami are co-sponsoring the symposium “World War I: A Century Later” on Saturday, Sept. 20 at New World Center.

It was a war of machine guns and aeroplanes and tanks and trenches and chemical weapons and poison gases that gagged and suffocated. All these implements of war were either introduced in those years, or perfected in, under and over the killing fields of France and Belgium and Germany. It was a war that shaped the Middle East, leading to today’s terror. It led to fascism and communism – and Hitler and Lenin and Stalin (and evils that ensnarled a century).

Sixteen million people died in those four years, 1914-18, 116,000 of them Americans.

It was an accidental war. Shouldn’t have happened. But did. Its cause was way more complicated than the Archduke of the fading Austro-Hungarian Empire getting assassinated in Sarajevo.

Subsequently, we – all of us, vengeful winners in Europe and naive statesman in the United States – botched the peace. It all looked so promising at the time, but looking back now we see the almost inexorable pathway to the next world war (the one we remember). If only we had really remembered the great lessons of the great war….