Knight Blog

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

Engaging the community in revitalizing downtown Akron

Dec. 18, 2012, 9:03 a.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

Today, I’m excited to announce a nearly $8 million investment to help revitalize downtown Akron.

The funding for the University Park Alliance helps forward the organization’s dual mission – to foster strong neighborhoods through community engagement and to facilitate real estate development by partnering with anchor institutions.

Most of the funding  - $6 million – will build on the alliance’s success over the past two years in bringing the community together to create a vision for downtown’s future. With the master plan in place, new funding will enhance programming, like Community Day, where 165 residents came out to rehab homes, that we hope will continue to create the kind of informed and engaged community where we’d all like to live.

The remaining $1.88 million will go towards a low-interest loan to support development costs for the University Square project, which will provide housing and retail for residents and students.

Journalism junkies: Spend this summer with Google

Dec. 17, 2012, 12:23 p.m., Posted by Jenna Buehler

googleplex

Photo credit: Flickr user piperaudrey

Students can apply now for Google’s first-ever fellowship program, which offers eight digitally-driven students a chance to jumpstart their career by training with one of the nation’s top journalism organizations.

The 2013 Google Fellowship will begin with a week in Miami at Knight Foundation, and end with a week at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. Undergraduate and graduate students will receive a $7,500 stipend and an opportunity to connect and work on projects with journalists at the forefront of digital innovation.

The fellowship program will focus on data-driven journalism, online free expression and rethinking journalism’s business model. Each student project will take place at one of the following host organizations: the Center for Investigative Reporting, Committee to Protect Journalists, Investigative Reporters & Editors, Nieman Journalism Lab, Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Knight Foundation.

Fellows will be expected to contribute to their host organization’s work in a variety of ways, like researching and writing stories, contributing to open source data programs and more.

You've got data - now what? Ask SchoolFactsJax

Dec. 13, 2012, 2:50 p.m., Posted by Lisa Williams

What do people really want from your data?  

These days, data -- data visualization, data journalism, and data-driven civic apps -- are the new black.  There are hackathonsnational data challengesgrant programs, and groups putting coders to work on behalf of cities.  

There's also more publicly available data than ever before -- the data.gov repository of public data from the federal government has 378,000 data sets.  The World Bank has more.  Cities from Ann Arbor, Mich. to Paris are setting up public, online repositories of data about civic life from spending to law enforcement to education.  

But what does the average citizen actually want out of all that data?  What's going to help them have a better life, or be a better citizen?  

Jason Rose at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund got an in-depth look at this question as he developed SchoolFactsJax, a website that attempts to make the data on Duval County's public schools accessible to everybody with a web browser.  

When I asked him what he'd recommend to organizations with similar aims, he said: "The first thing I would say is to take the time up front to really understand the data and what it is your audience needs or wants to know from it.  One of the unique issues of working with education data is that there is typically more performance information available than anyone knows what to do with."

Rose and the team at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund decreased their knowledge gap by spending a lot of time with stakeholders directly: "Over the year or so we spent working to launch the first phase of School Facts Jax, the majority of it was spent gathering input from different audiences and partners on what questions people most wanted to be able to answer about our local schools, what the best data points would be to answer those questions, and what was the best way to present that information to make it both accessible and meaningful to our audiences."