Knight Blog

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

Digital initiative to expand help for military veterans

July 16, 2014, 5 p.m., Posted by Fernando González

Above: IAVA-organized 'Storm the Hill' day in Washington, D.C. Credit: IAVA on Flickr.

The numbers in the scandal over the delays in health care and other benefits incurred by the Department of Veterans Affairs were shocking. As of June 2013, returning veterans trying to get help for medical issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, had to wait an average of 336 days, according to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonprofit organization for post-9/11 veterans and their families. The wait was almost triple the VA’s stated goal of 125 days. By March 2013, the so-called “backlog,” the number of veterans waiting to access benefits, had reached 611,000. But numbers never tell the whole story.

To help put names and faces to the real suffering brought about by these delays, in 2012 Knight Foundation committed $250,000 to IAVA to support the development of The Wait We Carry.

The site is an interactive visualization tool of the wait times many veterans have been enduring but also a means to learn about each veteran affected and connect with them. (Each entry has “Learn more about this veteran” and  “I want to connect with this vet about his experience” links.)

Awesome Foundation MIAMI reaches funding milestone: $30,000 awarded to small local projects

July 15, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Natalia Martinez

Photo: Connective Quotes, a June 2014 Awesome Foundation MIAMI grant recipient.

It is a typical day and you are sitting in traffic, daydreaming in class, or rushing back from a little-too-extended work lunch, when suddenly, inadvertently two dots connect and a light bulb fires up - an idea!

No one said having ideas was easy; in fact, Walter Bagehot went a little further, “One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea.” But ideas are also the great exception to my bootcamp instructor’s favorite anthem: If it were easy, everyone would do it. To our great benefit, all of us are small-scale idea-generating machines in our own right.

Unfortunately, many potentially ideas are put down through self-critique or dismissed as not relevant, many are left unwritten over the course of our multitasking days, and many interesting observations are forgotten by the time we get out of the shower. This draining of awesome observations represents a colossal loss in our community, but Awesome Foundation MIAMI is here to help.

We believe your ideas deserve an ear to listen and a partner to provide feedback. We believe bigger is great, but smaller is not too shabby either. We believe awesomeness can be promoted in our city only if all parts of our diverse community feel engaged and find avenues to participate. With this in mind, we launched in January 2013 to award self-funded, no-strings attached micro-grants to ideas in Miami.

Now, a year and a half later, I am immensely thrilled to report that Awesome Foundation MIAMI has exceeded $30,000 in funding to local projects.

Announcing 69 finalists in the St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge

July 14, 2014, 4 p.m., Posted by Tatiana Hernandez

Mu Performing Arts is a finalist in the 2014 St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge. This article is cross-posted from

We are excited to announce 69 finalists for this year's Knight Arts Challenge in St. Paul. This spring, we asked the community for their best ideas for the arts. More than 850 people shared their passion and projects with us.

Our panel of 10 local readers — artists and arts leaders from a variety of communities and genres — carefully reviewed each submission before arriving at this list of finalists. These ideas reflect the new St. Paul, a diverse and creative city. We set out to attract arts projects from all corners of the city, from organizations and small collaboratives to individual artists, and to make sure the list reflected the people who live and work and create in St. Paul.  We’re thrilled with the results.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an idea and who helped spread the word.