Knight Blog

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

Growing a community of inspired, committed black men

Oct. 4, 2012, 12:29 p.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

“If you think that there are not thousands of black men in our communities who get up everyday, and of their own volition do what they can do to make our communities stronger, then you are not paying attention. Why do we define the opportunity in our community only in terms of a threat? Why don’t we consider these men who stand ready?”  - Trabian Shorters, vice president/communities at Knight Foundation.

Shorters spoke Wednesday at the Open Society FoundationsInnovation and Impact Forum for Black Male Achievement. His focus was BMe, which is working to create a network of black men and boys committed to building stronger communities.

Piloted in Detroit and Philadelphia last year, BMe captured 2,082 stories of everyday men - fathers, uncles, businessmen, coaches and mentors - all engaging others in making their communities better places to live.

Taking small steps for large-scale community change

Oct. 4, 2012, 8:35 a.m., Posted by Markus Kolic


Knight Foundation this week announced support for four projects that use technology to empower communties, including DailyFeats, a site known for helping people set small goals to achieve big things. Here, Markus Kolic, director of content and projects at DailyFeats writes about the project. 

Everyone has goals in their lives. Some of us are trying to lose weight; some to save more money; some to reduce job stress and spend more time with our families; some of us, all of the above.

But turning those goals into concrete steps, and putting them into practice in our lives, is super hard.  We've all experienced this. It's one thing to resolve to lose ten pounds -- it's quite another to say no to a tempting chocolate muffin on a busy afternoon. The gulf between our long-term goals and our immediate, instinctual preferences is just too large. (To learn more about this phenomenon, read up on the economic principle of hyperbolic discounting.)

To solve this problem, DailyFeats -- a project my colleagues and I have been working on here in Cambridge, Mass. since 2010 -- helps people connect those daily steps to their long-term goals. Using the DailyFeats mobile and Web apps, you can see how your daily decisions add up to bigger change: through a system of tracking and points (which you can actually redeem for rewards or donations), you can boost your motivation and work your way toward your goals.

Now with Knight Foundation funds we’ll be putting an extra emphasis on using this model to encourage community change.

Igniting Miami’s startup culture

Oct. 4, 2012, 8:19 a.m., Posted by Jenna Buehler

Photo (cc) Creative Commons License 2012 by Aerostylaz on

wise man once said that you need two things to create a successful technology hub: rich people and nerds.

South Florida has both and, according to recent articles published by the Miami Herald and the Miami Today, the two groups are starting to connect and catalyze the local startup scene. Cementing those connections, and drawing on wider community assets, is essential to creating the robust entrepreneurial ecosystem where tech startups can thrive.

Knight Foundation is nurturing Miami’s start-up culture by investing in the spaces and events where innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and academics can collide and connect with the broader community. The goal of the initiative is to make Miami a place where ideas are built.

“We need more co-working space, places for meetings and learning opportunities, because we are very scattered in Miami,” Knight Miami Program Director Matt Haggman told Miami Today, adding that more opportunities for convening with other entrepreneurs, such as hackathons, panels, talks, demo days and meet-ups would create a greater sense of community.

Support of start-up culture marks a broadening of Knight’s strategic focus beyond its successful Arts program, which concentrates on making art accessible to the public to strengthen their attachment to the community. The National YoungArts Foundation recently announced it will move its headquarters to Miami, further suggesting that the rich culture in the city is making it easier to attract and keep talent. A thriving start-up culture will give people more possibilities to shape their community’s future.

Reports have emphasised the opportunity for Miami to tap into community assets like its improving university system, urbanized core, its mobile and international demographic, and significant concentration of wealth.