The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is proud to launch BME today in partnership with Open Society Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Context Partners and the people of Detroit and Philadelphia.
BME (pronounced “Be Me”) will engage thousands of people in recognizing the black men and boys who take initiative to improve their communities. We will also award grant money for several of the local projects that these men and boys propose to us. But what’s this all about?
We believe in communities where black men and boys lead in solutions, participate in decision making and are fully engaged in all issues and opportunities affecting their communities. So we want to first recognize and thank those who do. Then, we want to build upon their efforts to make our communities better. To put it in context, allow me to tell this very personal story.
In case you missed it, yesterday’s live chat for the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge has been archived and is available on artsjournalism.org.
The conversation features Knight and NEA staff responses to questions applicants submitted about things like eligibility (anyone), and the purpose of the challenge: to seek new models for arts journalism in Knight’s eight resident communities.
We hope you’ll take a look, and learn more about how you can help rethink arts news and criticism for the 21st Century. Applications are due by Aug 18th!
Storify, an interactive platform that lets users drag and drop YouTube clips, Facebook posts, tweets and other Web content to frame dynamic journalistic stories, has been announced as the 2011 $10,000 Grand Prize winner of J-Lab’s Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.
"In Storify, we see a journalism tool that truly solves a newsroom problem and also inspires others to challenge the way they've been...
We're hosting an online live chat today to answer questions about the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, an eight-city contest that seeks new models for arts journalism. Read more about it, and join the conversation at EDT 2 p.m. today at artsjournalism.org.
“Beyond writing a review and sharing an informed opinion, the art critic must become a context provider who creates stories that are not an end to themselves, but instead act as the seeds for engagement," writes Devis.
In today's world, cultural moderators can reach communities like never before. It's exciting. It's invigorating. And we want to help you get in on it. If you have ideas about shedding new light on what’s going on in the arts world around you, join us at artsjournalism.org.
There’s been a lot of media attention recently on the future of the news industry. This month, The Economist published a special report, Bulletins from the Future, highlighting the major ways in which journalism has and will change because of digital technology and network platforms. This summer, Participant Media (Jeff Skoll’s film production company) released Page One: Inside the New York Times, a Sundance documentary that pits digital media against traditional media in a Star Wars-esque battle of editorial forces as the Times rethinks its business model. In April, The Atlantic tried to make its own sense of new media in an article on the topic. While media loves to talk about itself and its illnesses,increasingly the philanthropic community is considering information and news in a new light: as a core need and instrument for social change.
FSG has been thinking about the role of philanthropy in news, information and media for more than two years, as part of our ongoing partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – a national philanthropic leader in this area. (Their work is featured in Do More than Give as an example of catalytic philanthropy.) In 2009, FSG was asked to evaluate Knight’s Community Information Challenge, a five-year, $24M initiative that intends to increase engagement of community and place-based philanthropy in supporting local news and media. Knight wanted to catalyze experimentation – get foundations to change their behaviors and utilize digital media (the internet, social and mobile media) to create social change. And, unlike traditional program evaluation, FSG was asked to emphasize learning – for the Foundation, for grantees, and for the field. Thus began our involvement in a developmental strategic evaluation of the KCIC. (See FSG’s reports in our Knowledge Exchangefor more on our findings.)
Our work has involved a near real-time cycle of collecting and reporting dataon projects, grantees and the field of community and place-based foundations. Assisted by reports, briefs, memos, slide decks, case studies, and other deliverables we’ve produced, we also talk frequently with our clients and other stakeholders to discuss the evolution of the program and help them think about how to adapt their strategies and approaches. I used to tell people that I wasn’t sure whether we were conducting an evaluation or advising a strategy – and now I am not sure that the difference matters. Our approach to evaluation feels highly appropriate to the dynamic and swiftly changing world of digital media. When the KCIC launched, no one had an iPhone. Twitter and Facebook were fledgling (as one article notes, the “Like” button didn’t exist until April 2010). But today, we need to adapt more quickly – to tablets, foursquare, and whatever the next thing is.
Halfway in, we’ve seen impressive uptake in the field. Roughly 400 community and place-based foundations have applied for matching grants, and 200 foundation CEOs and board members have attended Knight’s annual Media Learning Seminar. To date, Knight has made grants to 84 projects in communities around the United States – in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as rural Alaska, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Considering that there are fewer than 800 community foundations in the U.S., a considerable proportion of the field is becoming more aware and incorporating information and media grantmaking into their work.
In many ways, foundations are using information and media to further their roles as philanthropic leaders. In particular, they are helping to createactionable knowledge in their communities and providing an opportunity for citizens to take action – whether it’s about decommissioning the local nuclear power plant, voting on a local education funding measure or learning about the perspectives of young people growing up in the community.
Knight and FSG are interested in learning more about what other foundations – in the field, beyond KCIC grantees – are doing to support news and information in their communities. We invite you to tell us your stories and what you’ve learned.
San Jose Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy shared his thoughts this weekend on Globaloria, a new digital literacy program coming to the region, praising the initiative’s willingness to take new approaches by using game design to empower youth with important skills.
"We need to embrace experiments," urged Cassidy, "-- the riskier, the better."
He continued, saying,
"A few Silicon Valley schools are about to...
I’m excited beyond belief to announce that I’m joining Mozilla as the head of the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership. It’s an incredible opportunity to help build discussions, communities, and tools to drive innovation in journalism.
The partnership is funded by the Knight Foundation, the folks that created theKnight News Challenge (which I was a reviewer for this year), and is run byMozilla, the folks that bring you the Firefox web browser. The idea of the partnership is to help to facilitate further collaboration between technologists and journalists through a series of design challenges, learning labs, and culminating in a fellowship program that places developers in residence in newsrooms around the globe. The partner newsrooms for 2011’s fellows are Al Jazeera, the BBC, the Guardian, Die Zeit, and the Boston Globe. It’s an amazing group of people that I am excited to collaborate with.
Who can apply to the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge? What are the requirements? And how much money is there to win anyway?
The Arts Journalism Challenge, an eight-city contest to find new business models for arts criticism and coverage, is taking questions: Join Knight and NEA staff at 2 p.m., Wednesday July 27th for a live chat to learn more about how you can win funding.
Applications are due by August 18th. Visit artsjournalism.org for more.
Practitioners, academics, public officials, funders, and others are gathering in downtown Boston today for the Third Annual Conference in Civic Studies at Tisch College, Tufts University. Its title is “Frontiers of Democracy: Innovations in Civic Practice, Theory, and Education." Paula Ellis, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, and Damian Thorman, National Program Director, are both representing Knight Foundation at the conference.
A recent article in the Huffington Post cited the importance of using interactive games to strengthen youth education. Central to the argument was the idea that creative, digital teaching methods are part of learning in the 21st Century.
As a strong supporter of games for engagement, Knight, too, believes in the potential of games. It’s important that we take advantage of the tools that are being developed, and with all the activity taking place in the field, we’re glad to be involved.
MIT Center for Civic Media, working with the Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County, is launching the first phase of the Sameboat project. The goal of Sameboat is to take important community information and push it out to everyday places that people commonly frequent.
The signs will make it easier for community members to find out about free and low-cost events and services in the area.
”The first phase involves a fairly inexpensive digital signage network that goes into community spots where people already gather,” says Rick Borovoy, research scientist at MIT.
Here's a short video explaining the project.
The sign content is community-sourced from local partners hosting services and events. Examples include: free student breakfasts at participating schools during the summer; area Farmers’ Markets; Wisconsin Rapids Zoo hours; free dinners at the Neighborhood Table; basic skills workshop at the Jobs Center, and food pantry screening hours at North Central Community Action Program.
“Our community wants to make sure people are aware of local services and events being offered,” adds Kurt Heuer, Chief of Police at Wisconsin Rapids Police Department. “People should...
The tag line on the website Between the Bars, a blogging platform for the outside world to communicate with prisoners, is a simple request that packs so much punch:
Leave a comment….we’ll pass it on.
Behind the scenes, Between the Bars is an intense—and difficult to scale—operation. Five core volunteers open mail, yes, that old form of communication printed on paper and sent in an envelope, coming from prisoners who participate in the program. They scan and publish the letters to their website, where the rest of the world can take a look and choose whether or not to respond.
Charlie DeTar is the MIT graduate student who co-founded the effort, a project of the Knight-funded Center for Civic Media, and has since kept it going. He calls it addicting to witness the connections that happen between a very marginalized part of our population and the outside world. He hopes some good can come from raising awareness of the failures in our criminal system that result in broken lives rather than ones that are rehabilitated.
“You start realizing that the person who’s been put in prison is somebody who could be doing so much more for society, so much more for themselves and be harmed so much less by some other means of dealing with criminality. That’s the thing we want to influence. We want to..."
In Lowell, Massachusetts, a chance encounter between a city representative and a media expert has resulted in almost 175 citizens getting together to plan a greener future for their city. And it’s all thanks to – online gaming? Oh, and community values too.
While looking for a fresh way to engage local residents in making her community more environmentally and economically sustainable, Allegra Williams of Lowell’s Department of Planning and Development stumbled onto a multiplayer game used to revamp Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. She liked the game’s interactive approach, so she reached out to Eric Gordon, the project’s developer, to see if he had any ideas.
Gordon, Director of Engagement Game Lab and Associate Professor at Emerson College, happened to be in search of a community in which to implement his latest experiment, Community PlanIt, an online game designed to engage citizens in values-based planning. The project had recently won support from Knight’s Technology for Engagement initiative, which funds projects that leverage technology to help residents take action to strengthen their communities....
One mark of a successful online project intended to foster community is when that community finally responds – and extracts the content for its own use.
For the website Crónicas de Héroes, archiving positive stories of the everyday heroes of Juarez, Mexico, this moment happened when a group of street artists asked permission to paint some of the accounts as murals.
It wasn’t easy to get to that place. For six months the tireless Yesica Guerra, a Juarez resident, with the help of two others, talked to small groups and hosted workshops to encourage members of her city to tell their positive stories. As she worked on plans for the project from MIT’s Center for Civic Media, which is funded by Knight Foundation, she sent streams of...
The Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM) has been helping the youth of Philadelphia discover the power of their voices through spoken word & literary expression since 2006. This week CNN profiled the Knight Arts grantee, following the story of 19-year-old Alana Gooden, who credits PYPM with saving her life: “If PYPM didn’t exist, Gooden said she and her fellow members might not be where there are right now. ‘We wouldn’t be performing, we wouldn’t be promoting positive change, we would be out there with them downtown, flash mobbing, running around, fighting, cursing, getting arrested, shooting, dying,’ she said.”
Akron's Community Learning Centers will be transformed into spaces for engagement with a recently announced Knight Foundation grant to the Akron Neighborhood Trust. The $674,000 grant will train residents in a process called Deliberative Democracy, which will allow them to plan and implement needed services at the centers with input from many voices in the community.
We’re proud to take part in this effort to transform the community, and hope the news will spread quickly.
So far, the story has been picked up by the Akron Beacon Journal, which explained the initiative, saying, “Over the next three years, residents will set priorities and design action plans for programming and services to be offered in the Community Learning Center.”
Crystal Jones, who co-manages The Akron Neighborhood Trust with Susan Vogelsang, shared our excitement about the award, saying...
This week’s story in The Charlotte Observer was welcome news to arts lovers and supporters in the community. After a couple of really challenging years for both established and emerging arts organizations, this year's Arts and Science Council (ASC) stable support is greatly appreciated.
“The ASC will give $7.6 million to more than 60 cultural organizations during the budget year that starts this month,” wrote The Charlotte Observer. “Most of the 25 groups that get the bulk of the money will receive the same amount they did last year - a welcome change after two years of squeezes.”
(Students use Globaloria in Austin, Texas., one of the five communities currently using the platform)
More than 5,000 youth and young adults in Silicon Valley schools, youth clubs and community centers will soon become interactive programmers and civic advocates thanks to a $950,000 Knight Foundation grant for an innovative platform that uses games design to teach digital literacy.
Over the next three years, Silicon Valley youth will use the World Wide Workshop’s Globaloria platform to develop, program and blog about their own educational games. The idea is to leverage social issues and open-source principles to craft collaborative games that provide youth with the digital and media literacy skills they will need to fully engage in the 21st century information age. The initiative will also connect participants to important civic concepts.
“Globaloria presents a powerful technology-driven participation model that is relevant to today’s Internet-focused generation. It allows them to conceptualize, design and program their own web games on important topics, and to engage in civics by ‘learning by doing,’” said Dr. Idit Harel Caperton, president and founder of the World Wide Workshop.
The initiative will further provide local instructors with training to help the youth form teams and conduct the online research necessary to effectively design their projects.
World Wide Workshop will be ...
By Tom Lindley, Editor, Oklahoma Watch
Faced with the nation’s highest incarceration rate for women, overcrowded prisons and rising costs, Oklahoma lawmakers recently approved landmark legislation that will begin to address problems in the criminal justice system.
The action comes on the heels of a six-month investigation prompted by Oklahoma Watch, a winner of the Knight Community Information Challenge, and supported by media across the state, including the state’s two major news organizations, the World and The Oklahoman. The investigation focused attention on the problem and created a climate for prison reform, which was a feat in itself in a state so keen on locking people up.
More than 25 other members of the Oklahoma Press Association also published some of the 35 plus stories produced by Oklahoma Watch, the World and The Oklahoman. The broadcast phase of the project also involved public television outlet OETA and public radio stations KWGS-Tulsa and KGOU-Norman, OK.
Oklahoma Watch is a winner of the third Community Information Challenge. Other supporters include the Tulsa Community Foundation, Ethics and Excellence Foundation and The George Kaiser Family Foundation.
The long-form journalism project is focused on the many lengthy sentences handed out to non-violent female offenders and the cost to their children and taxpayers. Oklahoma has had the highest incarceration rate, per capita, in the nation 14 of the past 15 years...
(2011 Nieman Fellow Hollman Morris Rincón talks to Nieman Foundation curator Bob Giles)
Good news for Latin American journalists, advocates of free press and communications scholars alike: today the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University announced Knight Foundation’s support of the Knight Latin American Nieman Fellowship to include experimental fieldwork projects that help discover new ways to inform and engage communities.
Knight Foundation has supported Nieman in its goal to encourage journalistic excellence and freedom of the press in Latin America for over 20 years. Now, with a grant totaling nearly $200,000, Knight will provide Latin American fellows with the opportunity to pursue projects at the end of their yearlong fellowships at Nieman. Projects will focus on providing deeper coverage of important stories, creating new journalistic enterprises or researching policies and their impact.
“We hope the field projects allow the fellows to ...
A new digital media incubator launched today in Philadelphia will help promote media innovation by providing startups with a launching pad and creating a culture of innovation in the region.
87 percent of new companies that benefit from completing an incubation program tend to stay in business according to the National Business Incubation Association. Insights from the Knight News Challenge and our work in media innovation also show that the most successful media innovation projects are nurtured.
The project experiments with a new model we hope will benefit digital media startups, traditional news organizations and Philadelphia, one of Knight Foundation’s resident communities and the fourth largest media market in the U.S. according to Nielsen.
(Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is supposed to guarantee prompt responses from the government to information requests, turned 45 last week. However, the 2011 Knight Open Government Survey showed that some federal agencies have been letting requests languish for years – including a request to the National Archives dating back to 1991.
FOIA, which President Johnson signed into law in 1966, dictates that government agencies process and respond to requests within 20 days, with a possible 10-day extension to accommodate “unusual circumstances.” However, according to the 2011 Knight Open Government Survey, eight federal agencies have requests that date back more than a decade, demonstrating that the government still has a long way to go before it successfully fulfills the terms of its own law.
“We need public information, just like we need freedom of speech or freedom of the press,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation. “In order to be great citizens, we need to know something about what we’re voting about, we need to know how our government is working.”
In order to test which government agencies were responding promptly to FOIA requests, the National Security Archive ...
By Paula Ellis, VP/Strategic Initiatives
Inspired by the power of emerging technologies and residents’ do-it-yourself spirit, cities across the country are beginning to re-imagine what public participation could be in the 21st Century.
Yesterday, at a neighborhood church in Brooklyn, New York, the City of New York and Knight-funded CEOs for Cities launched Change by Us NYC with help from Knight Foundation’s Technology for Engagement initiative. The website invites New Yorkers to propose community change ideas and seek city money to help make it happen.
It’s a really cool idea that we hope is just the first of many, many, many new notions about how government can really engage with residents who care about the place they live and want to help make it better.
Change by Us, known initially as Give A Minute, began as a CEOs for Cities experiment in Chicago and Memphis, where government leaders wanted to know if you could tap into the wisdom of the crowd to find creative, practical and effective solutions to persistent challenges.
At Knight Foundation, where we believe that informed and engaged communities are better places to live, work and play, we’re excited to help support this burgeoning movement. And with more than 700 articles of feedback provided to the NY site so far, we’re proud to be involved.
Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith also expressed his excitement, saying in an official release, “Change by Us NYC will be a social network for grassroots leaders. New Yorkers have long been active in greening our city and improving our quality of life, and thanks to this new website, volunteers, professionals, and city agencies will have the opportunity to collaborate on issues like sustainability like never before.”
The Civic Commons, a Northeast Ohio effort to create community conversation, is now helping to facilitate an engagement process for city development. With the launch of its Flats Forward project, the Commons will allow key business stakeholders, city leaders and citizens to engage in a master plan for the Flats Area of downtown Cleveland.
Over $2 billion of public/private investment is planned for the Flats in downtown Cleveland, with commercial, retail, and residential development. As they say at the Commons, “Join the Conversation!”
In Michael Depp’s recent article from NetNewsCheck, Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of Knight Foundation, talks about the key component to a non-profit’s success: business entrepreneurialism. The last decade has brought major changes in the media landscape as news organizations have tried to adapt to the digital age. During this tumultuous time, non-profits have emerged as sources of hard-hitting investigative journalism. However, some continue to have serious financial difficulties.
“It would be a major strategic error for nonprofit news organizations to think that most of their money should come from foundations in perpetuity,” Newton told NetNewsCheck “That said, it is a reasonable business model based on the experience of established nonprofit media to expect that they could raise from 10-25 % of their annual budgets from foundations.”
Nonprofit media organizations need to devote time and resources to their financial sustainability as well as their journalism. “A lot will die off, a lot will merge with traditional media, a lot will remain small,” Newton concluded in the article. “You have to be almost as scrappy in nonprofit media today as you have to be to make it as a new media start-up. The clever ones will make it. The nimble ones will make it.”
(Video: Josh Rogers and Dwayne Bass talk about Tyler's Place Dog Park, a 2010 winner of the Knight Neighborhood Challenge)
Community advocates in Macon, Georgia are gearing up to celebrate the third round of winners for the Knight Neighborhood Challenge, a $3 million community-wide contest funding local ideas that revitalize the city’s historic College Hill neighborhood. The event is open to the public, and will take place on Thursday, July 21st at The Lofts at Mercer Village.
Established as a partnership with the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the Knight Neighborhood Challenge set out to create an innovative way to engage the community in redeveloping one of Macon’s very first neighborhoods. The Challenge also complements the Macon College Hill Alliance, a collaboration between local investors and activists to give new economic life to the same area.
Three years later, the initiative has launched innovative ideas ranging from the College Hill Alliance's project to create an agility course, furniture and sculptures for a local dog park to the restoration of iconic homes inhabited by elderly and disabled residents.
The Knight Neighborhood Challenge has been a great success so far, but none of it could’ve been made possible without the support of the community, which Knight hopes will come celebrate on July 21.
“I’d love for folks to join us, even – and especially – if we don’t know them!” Knight’s Macon Program Director, Beverly Blake, said enthusiastically.
Interested? Send a formal RSVP to the Community Foundation of Central Georgia by July 15th.
Ms. Pricilla is the sixth generation of her family to live in the home where she grew up. She has since raised her children there, and her grandchildren come to visit frequently.
Mr. Priscilla was just one of the many people I heard speak at a recent ceremony for the Eastern North Philadelphia Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI), which engages residents in creating a vision and action plan for their neighborhoods. One by one, and with a great sense of accomplishment and pride, residents, business owners, pastors, and community leaders that live and work in this area of 13,000 residents happily went to the podium to share the portions of the “Our Community, Our Ideas,” plan, the result of a year of work. The meetings, many of them lasting into the night, were coordinated by Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha through a Knight Foundation grant to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).
Cross posted from http://www.nea.gov/artworks/
Today the National Endowment for the Arts along with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation launched the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, a pilot competition in eight Knight communities to inspire new, innovative models for local, high-quality arts coverage and criticism. The NEA’s Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa and Knight’s Vice President for Arts Dennis Scholl chatted about the Challenge and more broadly about why arts journalism matters.