Knight Blog

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

Ambulances, Roller Derby queens and more help celebrate community with Macon Soap Box Derby

April 2, 2012, 1:37 p.m., Posted by Beverly Blake


Beverly Blake, program director/Macon at Knight Foundation, blogs about the community's annual Soap Box Derby. Above: a photo from last year's event. 

I wish y’all had been here -  it was an example of the people of Macon at our best: 1,000 of us enjoying the picture perfect weather,  music in Washington Park, the kids playing in the water and writing on the sidewalks with colored chalk while the adults with a cool beverage and good conversation. And lots of dogs.  

It was the beginning of the 2012 Second Sunday concerts in the park (moved this month due to Easter), a program of the College Hill Alliance aimed at getting people to come out and enjoy an afternoon of free music, each other’s company and the beauty of Macon’s Intown Historic District. As wonderful as the concert was, the Soap Box Derby that followed exceeded expectations!

Originally suggested by Scott Page at Interface Studios in Philadelphia, our College Hill Master Planner, the idea of the Soap Box Derby was to get people involved in something fun to engage with one another and build a spirit of community.  And it has done exactly that.  Now in its fourth year, the derby was started by College Hill Alliance and had four entries our first year including one car without brakes!  As with all things College Hill, the goal is to identify a great idea, nurture it and then turn it over to an organization or individual for sustainability. Last year, the Magnolia Street residents and the Intown Neighborhood Association stepped forward to claim ownership of the Soap Box Derby.  The Community Foundation of Central Georgia awarded a Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant and the new owners were on their way, and what a fabulous job they have done in just two years!

Community foundation helps bridge Boulder’s achievement gap

April 2, 2012, 9:28 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This post is one of a series focused on how community foundations are investing in news and information projects to make an impact on issues they care about. The following video was filmed during Knight’s 2012 Media Learning Seminar, where five community foundations gave brief, TED-like talks on how the projects they launched are impacting their cities. Here, Chris Barge shares his experience with the The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

Boulder County has Colorado’s largest achievement gap, separating low income kids and their peers from middle or upper income homes, said Chris Barge, director of philanthropic services for The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

“[The problem] is astonishing to most people locally,” Barge explained. “It means despite having one of the most competitive school districts in the state, we are failing the kids from low-income families.”

In the video above, Barge described how the foundation decided to do something about what it identified as the two key problems surrounding the issue: a lack of public awareness and no public funding capacity to combat it.

Barge also shared what the foundation learned when it did research to find out what would motivate the public to act, and in particular how women and men saw the problem differently.

Helping people in Detroit shape their own media landscapes

March 31, 2012, 9:11 a.m., Posted by Christina Xu

Project leader Christina Xu writes about the 2011 Knight News Challenge winner the Awesome Foundation News Taskforce Detroit.

Last night, the Awesome News Taskforce Detroit announced its first $1,000 grant winner: the Detroit Journal, a series of beautifully-shot, short documentaries produced by two Detroiters about the complex, wonderful people with whom they share their city. It was the Taskforce's official public debut in the city, and represents the start of what will hopefully be a long-term and fruitful relationship.

The Awesome Foundation concept was born in Boston in the summer of 2009, when 10 trustees committed themselves to setting aside $100 each every month to make awesome projects happen. In less than two years, this concept has spread to more than 35 cities around the world - Detroit is the 30th. Every month, the 10-20 trustees of each Awesome Foundation chapter get together and pick a project out of a public submissions pool to be the recipient of a $1,000, no strings attached grant. When everything aligns, the money pushes the project to the next level and the publicity and feedback that comes with the grant take it even farther.