Knight Blog

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

Opening up City Hall with

Oct. 3, 2012, 1:45 p.m., Posted by Participatory Politics Foundation


Philadelphia City Hall. Photo Credit: Flickr user MichaelRighi

Knight Foundation this week announced support for four projects that use technology to empower communities, including, which allows people to follow issues before their city council and share views with friends and leaders.  Here, David Moore of the Participatory Politics Foundation writes about the impetus behind the project. The following is an excerpt from a blog post on

There exists a pressing public need for more free Web tools for local civic engagement. City government is an area where informed individuals and community groups can exert effective leverage; it’s also an under-understood political arena in need of greater transparency. How many registered voters in next month’s Presidential election can name their city council members without hesitation? How about their legislative priorities, or the local issues about which their neighbors are writing the council?

Local is clearly an area where civic hackers can make an impact, as a number of new startups and non-profit allies have recognized. Participatory Politics Foundation believes it’s important to build a cultural expectation of engaged, publicly-accountable government at every level, from local up to city, county, state, and federal. Technology and open data makes this possible, towards a more accountable and participatory representative democracy.

With this next phase of development on OpenGovernment, we’re taking the popular OpenCongress model of government transparency and civic engagement down to the local level — rolling out first to Philadelphia, Penn.; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. We chose to roll out our new engagement tools in these three cities first because each has a different #opendata source on which to build. launched in 2011 with information for engaging with U.S. state legislatures: #opengov, #opendata, #openstandards, free-of-charge and libre-licensed and open-source and not-for-profit for the public benefit.

BioInnovation Institute opens new center in Akron

Oct. 2, 2012, 10:32 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

More than 150 leaders in Akron, Ohio celebrated the grand opening of the  Austen BioInnovation Institute’s new $13.3 million headquarters and Center for Simulation and Integrated Healthcare and Education. The institute is a partnership of Akron Children’sSumma, and Akron General hospitals and the University of Akron and Northeast Ohio Medical Universitywith support from Knight FoundationDr. W. Gerald Austen, Knight’s former board chairman of 14 years and an Akron native for whom the institute was named, attended.

The center will allow doctors to simulate complex operations and procedures and for innovators to create medical device prototypes. It is the largest simulation center in the country. “At the end of the day, we want to be contributing to jobs, spinning out companies and reducing the burden of disease,” said Dr. Frank L. Douglas, the BioInnovation Institute’s president and chief executive.

To date, the institute has contributed to the creation of more than 300 jobs and the creation of six companies, including four launched through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, and led community health initiative that brings more than 60 diverse Akron & Summit County organizations together to focus on combating chronic diseases while empowering patients and reducing costs.


@jsb: four things we're focusing on in 2013

Oct. 2, 2012, 1:33 p.m., Posted by John Bracken

By John Bracken, director journalism/media innovation at Knight Foundation

Today, I’m speaking at the SOCAP conference on a panel, New Alliances in Social Innovation, with Knight partners Jesse Shapins of Zeega and Corey Ford of Public Radio Exchange. The panel was put together and will be moderated by Jeff Leifer.

I’m talking about four things that Knight Foundation's journalism and media innovation program is  looking to focus on in 2013:

  • Many social entrepreneurs do not work within the standard nonprofit 501c3 organization. To support them, we’ve developed funding tools for whatever structure they choose, for example our Enterprise Fund, Prototype Fund and Program-Related Investment. With these tools we can work with the best partners regardless of how they choose to organize. The Slideshare above, by Knight's Director/Business Consulting, Ben Wirz, helps you decide what makes sense for your project in just four easy steps.
  • We’ve found that transformative leadership is the key ingredient to successful projects and, but its nature, the hardest to manufacture. We're exploring ways we can try to foster more transformative leaders and higlight their work.
  • Our emphasis has been on funding projects that are first over the wall. We’re also exploring ways we might better support the most successful of these early stage projects.