Knight Blog

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

Five ideas for improving college completion rates win funding

June 4, 2012, 9:21 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Students from Broward College whose proposed project "My College Guide" was one of five to win funding

Five projects that will support South Florida’s community college students as they finish school will receive funding after winning a competition that engages young  people in providing solutions to educational challenges.

The award competition marked the culmination of’s three-day Target 2020 summit, which brought together close to 100 students to discuss the challenges they face in completing school, and helped them work collaboratively to propose solutions.

The summit focused on boosting community college completion rates and increasing civic engagement - Miami’s Millennials are the least civically engaged in the country, a new report finds. And according to Complete College America, only 12 out of every 100 Florida community college students will graduate with a post-secondary credential within four years, which is problematic since it's estimated that by 2020, 63 percent of jobs will require a certification or college degree.  

Knight Foundation supported the summit as a way to promote Millennial-led engagement in South Florida and four other communities.

Kicking off the summit award competition on Sunday morning, Knight’s Damian Thorman encouraged students to think about finding innovative ways to solve problems on issues they care most passionately about. Thorman said by doing so, students will become leaders with the ability to shape their communities’ futures. “Ultimately it’s people like you, in this room, who have the skills, the energy and the passion to solve the problems you’re facing. You’re going to be the ones to change this community,” Thorman, Knight’s national program director, said.

The winning projects listed below, which were voted on by the students using interactive keypads, will receive a share of $25,000 and a year of staff and other networking support. The project’s leaders will also participate in a year-long leadership program.

Projects were judged on four criteria: potential social impact, creativity and innovation, sustainability and the use of new and social media. The five below were selected from a group of 13.

Knight News Challenge data is now open

May 31, 2012, 12:11 p.m., Posted by John Bracken

Photo Credit Flickr user Koen Vereeken

The Knight News Challenge is being offered three times this year in short, focused rounds to better mirror the pace of innovation. Winners of Round 1, which focused on networks, will be announced June 18. Here, Journalism and Media Innovation Program Director John Bracken writes about the Knight News Challenge: Data.

Today, we are opening the Knight News Challenge on data. We are asking just eight questions - and 500 words - for your share of $5m. And you have three weeks to enter before the challenge closes at noon EDT June 21.

We’re looking for ideas that help make data more useful, by collecting, processing, visualizing or otherwise making it available, understandable and actionable.

We don’t have a vision for what we hope to fund through the contest-- if we did, we wouldn’t need a contest.

Here are some examples of data being useful: 

Beyond clicktivism: exploring ways technology can engage citizens in improving their communities

May 31, 2012, 9:09 a.m., Posted by Charles Tsai


Photo Credit: Flickr user TEDxHonolulu

Knight Foundation is convening its first summit today on the theme of Technology for Engagement, bringing together leaders and innovators to “think together” about lessons learned and what’s next.

Co-hosted by MIT Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the “unconference” is designed to give thought leaders in the field a rare platform to compare experiences, speak openly about successes and failures and identify areas for collaboration. Participants will collectively set the agenda and goals and define topics for discussion for the 24-hour event.

The summit marks a new milestone for Knight’s Technology for Engagement Initiative, launched in 2010 to fund better ways to harness the power of technology for community engagement. The initiative asks: Beyond clicks and comments, how can people use the Internet, online social networks, apps, and mobile devices to take “real life” action and improve their communities?

Over the last two years, Knight Foundation has funded more than a dozen organizations to experiment with possible answers. Initial grantees included Code for America, a “Peace Corps for Geeks” and Community PlanIt, a platform that uses gaming to involve citizens in community planning efforts.

Many of the fund’s grantees are attending this week’s summit, including Jennifer Pahlka of Code for AmericaEric Gordon of Community PlanItLee Fisher of CEOs for Cities, and Nancy Lublin of

Joining them in the unconference are Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media LabEthan Zuckerman, director of MIT’s Center for Civic MediaUrs Gasser, executive director of the Berkman CenterBenjamin Stokes, co-founder of Games for Change, and others.

While the discussion topics have yet to be decided, they are likely to address key themes emerging in the field: