Knight Foundation invests $1.3 million in technology that empowers communities

New Knight report explores emerging Tech for Engagement field

Oct 2, 2012 – Four projects that use technology to help communities shape their own futures will receive $1.3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The support is part of Knight Foundation’s Tech for Engagement Initiative, founded on the ideal that technology has the power to transform our democracy. The initiative funds projects that experiment with ways people can engage with each other and take action on issues they care about.

Knight Foundation today also released a new report, Digital Citizenship: Exploring the Field of Tech for Engagement. The result of a June summit with 70 leading thinkers, the report takes a snapshot of the field, explores key challenges and offers recommendations for the future. It can be found at knightfoundation.org/digitalcitizenship.

“While billions are spent working to sustain or invent the next Google or Facebook, there are relatively few dollars flowing into how to improve the kind of active democracy that builds our communities. We need more tools with a civic purpose, and technologists with a passion for community, to help deliver on the promise technology has for our everyday lives,” said Paula Ellis, vice president for strategic initiatives at Knight Foundation.

Ellis announced Knight Foundation’s support for the following projects:

Change By Us (CEOS for Cities - $590,000): Already implemented in New York City and Philadelphia, Change By Us finds citizens where they are already talking (online), and breaks down barriers to civic engagement, Citizens can propose local projects, and are able to recruit volunteers and become eligible for mini-grants that will help achieve their goal. The next version of Change By Us will allow projects to crowdsource funding and will be integrated with Facebook. The goal is to make it easier and more affordable for more cities to adopt the platform.

“The intersection of civic engagement and technology is accelerating change from the bottom up in unprecedented ways. Change By Us is our effort to go beyond clicks and "likes" to engagement and impact,” said Lee Fisher, president and CEO of CEOS for Cities.

OpenGovernment.org (Participatory Politics Foundation - $225,000): Funding will bring the popular OpenCongress.org platform to the local level - allowing residents to track items before their city council, voice their opinions to elected leaders and share opinions and news with neighbors. The site will be tested in Philadelphia, San Jose, Calif. and Washington D.C. OpenGovernment is a free and open-source project.

DailyFeats.com ($236,000): The free app and website is best known for helping people take small steps to achieve big goals - whether they concern eating, exercise, personal finance, or other aspects of health and well-being. With funding, the app will expand its push to engage people in doing more for their communities and as citizens. Approaches will be measured and statistically tested to determine what triggers and methodologies work for encouraging community engagement.

Good360 ($250,000): The nonprofit, a pioneer in the field of product giving, connects corporations with nonprofits, schools and libraries that need their donated goods. Through an online product donation marketplace, Good360 will enable communities to build capacity and engagement one individual at a time. Nonprofits will be able to communicate needs through wish lists, search for available product right in their own communities, enlist financial support from their social networks, and share impact stories with corporate and individual donors, alike. The organization hopes the interaction will empower communities to collaborate to meet the vast and exponentially increasing product needs of their massive nonprofit network.

Knight Foundation, a national funder with local roots, is committed to promoting democracy by supporting informed and engaged communities. The Tech for Engagement Initiative, launched in 2010, has invested $10 million in 24 projects, including Code For America, which is changing the way governments work through technology and service.

The initiative seeks innovative ideas that help deepen people’s engagement in their communities, make governments more open and transparent, and help build the greater field of people working in this area. For more, or to apply, visit technologyforengagement.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

About CEOs for Cities

CEOs for Cities is a learning community and partnership network that connects civic CEOs and urban leaders to each other and to smart ideas and practices for making cities successful. We connect across sectors, borders, levels and generations in more than 60 North American cities.

About DailyFeats

DailyFeats, available free for iPhone, Android, and web, helps people make positive change by forming small daily habits. In partnership with Walgreens, Cigna, eBay, Happy Family, O, The Oprah Magazine, ONE Campaign, and a coalition of other organizations, DailyFeats offers tools and motivation for sustainable behavior change, helping its members take action to improve their health and well-being. Members earn points for their actions or "feats," share progress with friends, and redeem their points for savings from national brands, local rewards or partner donations to 501(c)3 non-profits. DailyFeats is a certified B Corporation.

About Good360
An international nonprofit with nearly 30 years of experience in product philanthropy, Good360 is dedicated to helping people and communities in need by distributing corporate product donations to qualified nonprofits. These include nonperishables, such as apparel, books, toys, personal care products, office and school supplies, computers and much more. On behalf of several Fortune 100 consumer, retail and technology companies, Good360 distributes products to a network of nearly 30,000 pre-vetted organizations. Good360 has been recognized by both the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy and Forbes magazine for its excellence and efficiency, respectively, in helping companies drive their bottom lines and at the same time do social good.

About the Participatory Politics Foundation

The Participatory Politics Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to increase civic engagement. The foundation develops free Web tools that create new opportunities for engagement with government. We believe that the Internet opens an unprecedented opportunity to extend and amplify political voices and actions. For our political system of representative democracy to work effectively, it is essential that we have the ability to see what’s happening in government and communicate our ideas to people in power.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.