National contest offers community foundations funds for local information projects

Knight Community Information Challenge provides seed funding to test new ideas

Related Links 

"New focus, opportunity for funding in community news and information" on Knight Blog by Susan Patterson and Bahia Ramos 

"Opportunity for funding Open Gov, information tools in Knight Community Info Challenge" on Knight Blog by Chris Sopher

"Meeting Community Information Needs" (for community foundations), a deck by Knight Foundation on SlideShare.net

MIAMI, FLA. – (May 1, 2013)  – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is now accepting applications for the Knight Community Information Challenge, which provides community foundations with matching funds for projects that inform and engage residents.

Applications are being accepted at informationneeds.org through June 1. Funders can ask questions about the challenge today through a Q & A webinar at 1 p.m. ET.

The challenge is an open call for all kinds of efforts that strengthen community news and information-sharing. This year the challenge also adds a new dimension— priority will go towards Open Government projects that improve the way people and their governments interact.  Knight’s definition of open government is broad, and can include projects that range from data transparency to using technology to increase citizen participation.

Up to $50,000 in seed funding will be provided for each winner, as a way to test new ideas and encourage local foundations to take a leadership role in promoting open engagement and information access. .

“Quality information is key to social change, a prerequisite for action, whether your focus is the environment, education, affordable housing or any other area. ” said Bahia Ramos, director, community foundations at Knight Foundation. who helps lead the challenge. “We hope the challenge can provide seed funding to get projects off the ground and on their way to community impact.”

Launched as traditional media models began to falter, the challenge encourages local foundations to step in and take a leadership role in ensuring that residents are informed about and engaged in issues important to them. Over the past five years, 40 percent of the community foundations in the United States have applied for challenge funding, with 100-plus winners investing $42 million in challenge and other media projects – more than doubling Knight’s own matching support. Projects have launched state investigations in New Jersey, helped pass a measure funding early childhood education in Colorado, and drawn more people into public planning discussions in California. A recent report, Case Studies: How Four Community Information Projects Went from Idea to Impact, details several projects.

To build on its success, earlier this year Knight Foundation extended the challenge through 2015. In addition to providing matching funds, the challenge includes expanded technical assistance, offering foundations tech consultants to think through issues no matter the stage of their project, year-round training through the Knight Digital Media Center and the annual Media Learning Seminar which has become the place for foundations to explore media trends and exchange insights.

Additionally, later this year Knight will launch a series of Learning Networks in which community foundations experienced in the field will receive additional support and be asked to share their lessons more broadly.

“This movement is young, but we’re seeing traction and early successes. By providing not only funding but tech and media expertise, we hope to deepen the impact of community foundations across the country,” said Susan Patterson, Knight Foundation program director who leads the challenge with Ramos.

To apply, or find out more about the challenge, visit informationneeds.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. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

Contacts:

Andrew Sherry, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, media@knightfoundation.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. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.