Knight Blog

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

Social game demonstrates importance of youth voices in community issues

March 5, 2012, 3:54 p.m., Posted by Jessica Goldfin

Any parent of tweens and teens knows it’s tough to talk with them about important issues. This makes one of the results of the Knight-funded real-world social game, Battlestorm, even more surprising. The game results showcase the power of youth as catalysts for conversations about hurricane preparedness among families, friends and communities along the Gulf Coast, which is still struggling to heal from past disasters.

A combination of dodgeball and freeze tag, Battlestorm was played by members of the Boys and Girls Clubs in communities throughout the region. The game used preparedness-related terms, symbols and game mechanics to promote the importance of hurricane preparedness through activities focused on youth as leaders. For example, in the course of the game, the “Town” team transports resources (balls) from one side of the court to the other while “The Storm” team plays and “shelter” power tokens offer players safe haven on the court from Hurricane players.

An evaluation of the game found that as a result of being involved with Battlestorm, players started conversations with parents and friends about hurricanes. 

  • 68% of Battlestorm players started/continued talking with parents about the topic vs. 38% in a control group.
  • One third of Battelstorm players’ parents reported learning something new about hurricane preparedness from their teen.
  • By the end of the game, 64% of Battlestorm players had spoken with friends about hurricanes, and 40% of players spoke with friends about the elements of a hurricane prep kit.

For example, on the way home from an after-school program, a girl from the East Biloxi Unit told her father that she was playing a game about hurricanes called “Battlestorm.” This reminded her father that the family’s flood insurance needed to be updated.

Get your #newschallenge questions answered

March 5, 2012, 1:41 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Innovation happens quickly: there’s just 12 more days to submit your Knight News Challenge application on the theme of Networks.

Still thinking about how to best formulate your idea? Have a question that isn’t answered in the FAQ?

This week, at 12 p.m. EST Wednesday, join us for a Google+ Hangout with Knight Foundation's Michael Maness, vice president for Journalism and Media Innovation, John Bracken, director/Journalism and Media Innovation and Jose Zamora, Journalism Program Associate at Knight Foundation

Can’t make it to the hangout on Wednesday? You can reach us anytime at @knightfdn on Twitter or via e-mail at

Heading to SXSW? We’ll be holding “Office Hours” for those who have questions related to the challenge. Stay tuned @knightfdn for times and locations.

A great night for Detroit at the Charles H. Wright Museum

March 2, 2012, 8:41 a.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly

Partners and supporters of the BME Challenge gathered Wednesday night to celebrate the 10 winners of the BME Detroit Leadership Award, honoring exemplary black men who step up to lead and engage others in our community.

Detroit City Council Member James Tate greeted the crowd and former NBA star and charter school founder Jalen Rose made a surprise appearance.

Each of the BME Leadership Award winners is receiving funds to advance work they are doing in our community - from helping plant gardens in vacant lots, to giving new fathers parenting skills, and exposing young people to greater literacy, cultural and career development opportunities. Each talked about their projects on video.

But this wasn't just a special night for our winners; it was a special night for Detroit. These men represent hundreds of BMErs, and thousands of Detroiters, who are blending economic livelihood, creative pursuit, and civic action in imaginative ways. It's because of people like them that Knight Foundation invests in initiatives that help citizens lead and engage with the city's growing movement of social entrepreneurs.