Knight Blog

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

The Akronist prepares to launch

May 2, 2011, 3:33 p.m., Posted by Susan Mernit

By Susan Mernit

In the hardscrabble city of Akron, staffers at the Akron Community Foundation are putting the finishing touches on of The Akronist, a citizen media web site that will  give local citizens both the tools and a platform to make their voices heard.

Back in 2009, Akron Community Foundation VP Donae Eckert applied for a Knight Community Information Challenge. The ask? Matching funding for a project whose goal was to provide residents in Akron and the Northeast Ohio region with a training academy and a citizen-journalism website where residents could publish, read and comment on locally produced features on critical issues and share news and information about what was happening in their city.

Fast-forward to spring 2011, and the Akron Community Foundation’s dream is becoming a reality. The Akronist, the ACF’s new citizen journalist web site, officially launches soon.

The media academy has trained more than 200 people and is...

Boys of color front and center in Philly educators gathering

May 2, 2011, 1:02 p.m., Posted by Donna Frisby-Greenwood


When a gathering of leaders opens with them spending a day with 30 incarcerated teen boys, you know it's not gong to be just another conference.

Last week, while much of the world focused on William and Kate, 300 education leaders gathered in the City of Brotherly Love to seek knowledge, share experiences, and collaborate on how to change educational outcomes for males of color.  The Knight-funded 5th Annual Gathering of Leaders, hosted by the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC), is designed for leaders to connect, share and learn. 

But what made this gathering unique is that it keeps boys of color front and center.  After spending the first day with incarcerated young men, the second day nearly 80 young men from COSEBOC-affiliate schools from across the country shared their dramatic interpretations and testimonials about the power of their resiliency and why they are and will continue to focus on their education. There was not a dry eye at Temple University as we all swelled with pride.  Young men were at the forefront even during an awards dinner recognizing the efforts of seven prestigious leaders.



Young men from Boys' Latin of Philadelphia High School introduced the honorees, the Young Kings, 6-12 years old, from Boston, Mass. sang and recited poetry and a jazz trio of three young men, ranging in age from 11-19 years-old and studying music after school at the Philadelphia Clef Club, had everyone on their feet asking for more.  It is the brilliance and talent of those young men highlighted throughout the weekend that lies within all males of color and that COSEBOC honoree, Shawn Dove of the Open Society Institute, reminded us that we sometimes have to pull it out.

While the gathering gave leaders an opportunity to talk and listen, it went a step further by  lifting up schools that work, connecting  academics, funders, practitioners and school leaders, and inspiring everyone to return home energized and armed to support better schooling for males of color.

I take my hat off to COSEBOC Executive Director Ron Walker and to Board Chairman Dr. Larry Leverett, as well as to the COSEBOC staff for organizing a community of folks, from all races, to do everything they can to take action on behalf of males of color.