Knight Blog

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

Generation next in Akron

June 7, 2012, 6:45 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Three of Akron’s most engaged young leaders talk about how and why they work for the greater good.  The Q&A is part of an article that looks at how Knight is helping develop the next generation of leadership in Akron.

Kyle Kutuchief, 33, is the director of development at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. He is a board member of several civic groups, including the Knight-backed Torchbearers Akron.

Knight Foundation: What’s your favorite thing about living in Akron?

Kyle Kutuchief: I love Akron ... my personal and professional networks are here. I grew up in a community on the west side called Bath. My parents were guidance school counselors. There’s such a strong sense of community here, that’s what keeps me here. People know each other, when you call someone, they call you back. People here genuinely care about the community. In other cities it can be less personal, but Akron is a very relationship-driven place. It’s a city, but it feels like a town.

You’ve said you like the city’s cultural assets: Which ones?

K.K.: A lot of people don’t know it, but we have one of the country’s best national parks systems. I’m a runner, so I love that I get to explore Cuyahoga Valley. There are also great new restaurants that makes it easier to carbo-load before marathons. I’m a hobby photographer so I really appreciate our local emerging and indy art scene.

How is the community getting stronger?

K.K.: Akron is lucky … we have an established leadership that is committed to helping us realize a better future.  Akron also has a strong civic leadership, including a good mayor, superintendent and a strong county executive. We also have other assets like a great university program and healthcare facilities, so I think we have fared better than other communities in the region.

What can Akron do to attract the next generation of talent?

K.K: We face a challenge, a lot of outsiders see Akron as uneventful or boring. But there are a lot of exciting things going on here and we need to share them! We should better market our community … we need to give companies, non-profits and other institutions in the area better tools to market those opportunities so that when they go out and recruit for talent, they’re better equipped.  We have assets that are on par with other communities. It’s really up to us to build our confidence in how we talk about them.

Documenting residents' love of their newspaper

June 7, 2012, 3:41 p.m., Posted by Michele McLellan


Photo Credit: Flickr user .distracted

As New Orleans prepares to become a major city without a daily newspaper, a foundation-supported online news start-up this week documented residents’ love of the local Times-Picayune.

Starting this fall, the paper will be printed and delivered only three days a week. That’s a blow for a city with lots of committed newspaper readers. The Lens NOLA, a nonprofit news site in New Orleans and a Knight Community Information Challenge winner, decided to show what that commitment looks like.

Managing editor Steve Beatty assigned a photographer to show New Orleans residents reading their newspapers on Monday and Tuesday, days when the Times-Picayune will no longer be published starting in the fall.

The result is a photo essay entitled “A look at a disappearing daily ritual for many.”

Minnesota challenge winners seek to bring community together across cultures and faiths

June 7, 2012, 9 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Three projects intended to bring people together across cultures and faiths have been named winners of a Minnesota state-wide contest designed to engage residents in making their community stronger.

The third annual Minnesota Idea Open Challenge was open to the public and close to 2,000 people voted for the winning ideas. The three winners listed below will each receive $15,000 to implement their projects.

The Minnesota Idea Open Challenge, which works to spread a deeper understanding of key community issues and challenges by engaging citizens in problem solving efforts, is a project of the Minnesota Community Foundation and was supported by Knight Foundation’s Knight Community Information Challenge.

About the challenge and its winners, Knight’s Program Director in St. Paul, Polly Talen says:

“I am thrilled to see the Minnesota Community Foundation continue to use this online tool to address statewide issues. Bringing people together across cultures and faiths is essential to informing and engaging communities.”

The three winners are: 

Hidden Pearls 7-Step Summer Challenge

A group of Muslim women in the state, led by Fatuma Mohamed, hope to dismantle stereotypes and empower others to lead across their cultures and faiths. Mohamed is encouraging Minnesota residents to participate in a series of fun summer events including a church/synagogue/mosque-hopping event, a healthy community-wide walk, a “pink hijab week” and more.


Tents of Witness

Eilen Kennedy and Margo O’Dell’s idea of a “Tents of Witness” exhibit will give more Minnesotans the chance to learn more about its diverse refugee community. The exhibit will feature several 8' x 12' tents each representing an individual refugee's story. The goal of the project is to “bridge cultures, faiths, and experiences within Minnesota and globally through dialogue and awareness around issues of discrimination and violence wherever it occurs.”