Knight Blog

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

Attracting and retaining young professionals in Akron

March 8, 2012, 4:08 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas


Torchbearers Board members at their Community Leaders Reception at the Akron Civic Theater.  

Knight Foundation recently awarded $50,000 to Torchbearers, an organization dedicated to attracting and retaining young professionals in Akron.

The funding supports a new program called “Be The Change” in which members identify their passion and create a plan for initiating community change while building strong relationships with community leaders.

Knight’s focus is to promote an informed and engaged Akron by developing and engaging the next generation of talent. This program is a chance for emerging leaders to identify opportunity and environments for change, embrace risk and receive guidance from local seasoned mentors.

The Akron Beach Journal profiled the launch of Torchbearers noting: "the funds [will] allow the group of about 95 members to build a curriculum with professional facilitation to empower participants to spark positive change for Akron."

What’s in a name: Broad definition for “news” in Knight News Challenge

March 8, 2012, 12:46 p.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Note: To apply for the News Challenge, and read our FAQ, visit

We’ve spoken to some potential applicants over the last week who have worried that their projects may not be “newsy” enough for the News Challenge.  

The idea might not be in the strictest sense - but that shouldn’t stop them from submitting.

Sure, “news” is in the challenge’s name. But over the course of running challenge, we’ve learned that many interesting ideas for informing and engaging communities may not, at first blush, be easily classified as news. In the recent past, we’ve funded data visualization projects and data scrapers, for example.

In this current contest, our focus is on projects that use networks to help communities get the information they need. We’ll fund projects that use existing software and platforms to deliver news and information.

The Civic Commons shows impact in Northeast Ohio

March 8, 2012, 11:27 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight funds The Civic Commons to build on existing citizen engagement efforts to provide new ways for citizens to learn about local issues. Here, Dan Moulthrop from The Civic Commons, writes about its impact.

Sam Bell is an auto mechanic in an inner ring suburb of Cleveland. He calls himself an "eco-conscious" auto mechanic, and what that means, practically, is that he recycles everything he can at his garage (The Lusty Wrench), and he rides his bike to work every day. It also means that he takes a very active interest in his community. As the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district began public engagement on their proposed strategic plan, he grew worried that the district's commitment to sustainability was little more than "lip service." He had tried to raise this at public meetings but to no avail. So, in late December, he turned to The Civic Commons and invited the community to join in a conversation about his ideas.

At first, no one seemed to be paying attention.  Since then, though, a few hundred people have accessed the conversation and almost 30 have participated in some fashion. The real success, though, lies in the fact that as a result of his efforts online and in the community, Sam recently got a meeting with the district superintendent. Here's what he posted on the Commons about that meeting:

"We wound up spending nearly an hour together, instead of the 20 minutes I had asked for.  I think neither of us was unhappy about having spent so long....I invited him to call the Cambridge MA Supt of Schools, whom he turns out to know through involvement in a committee on which they both serve, to ask about their experience.  He is willing to do so, and has asked me to furnish him information from other school systems which have managers of sustainability in place."