The Knight Creative Communities Initiative (KCCI) sponsored two-day Knight Creative Community Leadership Seminars based on Richard Florida’s creative-class magnet theory of economic development to train “community catalysts” to promote positive community transformation in three metropolitan areas: Charlotte, N.C.; Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis.; and Tallahassee, Fla. The centerpiece of the initiative was the selection of 30 volunteer community catalysts in each locale. The catalysts and local program coordinators, who were trained in the theories and evidence of Florida's approach, formed teams to carry out their projects with little financial or technical support.
ASSESSMENT PURPOSE & APPROACH
- How successful were the projects implemented by the community catalysts?
- What do the findings tell us about Florida’s creative class theory and its implementation through the Creative Community Leadership Seminars program?
- What steps can be taken to improve the program?
Approach: The interim evaluation was based on information gathered from an analysis of census data for the three communities; a survey of community catalysts; and phone and in-person interviews with a number of participants, including Knight program directors, local organizers and community catalysts.
Assessment Partners: Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert.
- Projects that emerged from the initiative included efforts to retain the educated workforce in Tallahassee and Duluth/Superior, rehabilitate districts in Tallahassee and Charlotte; and connect the arts and commerce in Duluth/Superior and Charlotte.
- Community catalysts needed more than nine months and greater resources to produce results. The initiative had unrealistic expectations about what was achievable in a short period of time.
- Projects that could be completed in nine months were difficult to connect to economic development outcomes. Intermediate civic outcomes, such as increased community and civic capacity, are more likely to be the direct effect of the initiative in its current form.
Knight invests in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement.
As part of our grant making process, program teams work with grantees to establish indicators that will be tracked to provide feedback on project implementation and outcomes. In certain cases, we also partner with grantees to conduct in-depth third-party evaluations to understand the effectiveness and impact of specific projects.