22 projects win support from Knight Prototype Fund

Photo: Virtual-reality storytelling demo at University of Texas at Austin.

Today we’re announcing the latest recipients of support from the Knight Prototype Fund. Twenty-two projects will join scores of others who have taken ideas from concept to demo since we launched the fund in June 2012. 

Check out the full list below, which represents a range of ideas from government, the media, nonprofits, universities, libraries and more. The Prototype Fund serves as our primary tool for funding early-stage media and information projects. The model invites applicants to experiment, learn and iterate before moving on to the more costly stage of building out a project.

In addition to receiving $35,000 in funding, Prototype Fund projects go through a six-month process that begins with a three-day course in human-centered design, facilitated by LUMA Institute. Building on that training to better develop their projects, the teams gather six months later for a demo day to share their discoveries and developments.  They join an expanding network of innovators seeking to provide better ways to inform and engage communities with the information that is essential to their lives. Some of the projects may eventually receive additional funding from Knight Foundation to help them scale.

Every quarter we announce a new cohort and invite new applications. We’re looking for U.S.-based organizations with projects that explore media, journalism, civic experience, and data and information needs. To learn more and to apply, please visit

Our open call for ideas closes Aug. 17. We look forward to seeing yours.

If you have specific questions about the application process, we will be holding office hours Friday, Aug. 14 from noon – 1 p.m. ET. You can join online or by telephone (1-888-240-2560, Meeting ID: 315 727 365).

Chris Barr is director of media innovation and Nina Zenni is a media innovation associate at Knight Foundation. Email them at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow Chris on Twitter @heychrisbarr.

Knight Prototype Fund recipients

Collective Development by Anchorage Public Library and Code for Anchorage (Project lead: Meg Backus; Anchorage, AK.): Opening library programming up to patrons by creating a participatory platform that will allow people to propose projects, workshops or events that the library will facilitate. by CrowdVoice (Project leads: Esraa Al Shafei and Melissa Tyas; Philadelphia): Creating an open-source tool for efficiently collecting and distributing crowdsourced news and data that news organizations can brand, embed and customize.

DataBasic by Emerson Engagement Lab (Project leads: Catherine D’Ignazio and Rahul Bhargava; Boston): Training journalists and others to easily apply data to their storytelling through a suite of tools that includes learning activities and video guides.

Data Privacy Project by Data & Society Research Institute (Project lead: Bonnie Tijerina; New York): Making it easier for libraries to set up secure digital services and for librarians to help patrons better understand online privacy issues through a technical support network, software and documentation toolkits, and more.

Federal Agency Dataset Adoption by API Evangelist (Project lead: Kin Lane; Los Angeles): Making it easier to access federal data for wider use by the public by processing the more than 5,000 datasets available at 22 federal agencies; the project will be driven by Github, the software hosting and collaboration platform.

Media Public: Putting the People in Public Media (Project lead: Melody Kramer; Washington, D.C.): Enabling public media organizations to collaborate with audiences and each other through an online platform that will allow them to recruit volunteers to help with various activities.

Network Geography 101 by Data & Society Research Institute (Project leads: Ingrid Burrington and Surya Mattu; New York): Teaching people what the Internet is actually made of by creating educational tools that will help users connect what they see on screens to the systems and infrastructure that makes the Internet possible.

Ombuds by Soapbox Systems (Project lead: Alex Kuck; Charlottesville, Va.): Helping to preserve and protect free speech online through software that lets activists, journalists, and others working in conflict zones record statements through a peer-to-peer microblogging platform which is backed by a public record.

OSM Lite by Digital Democracy (Project lead: Gregor MacLennan; Oakland, Calif.): Developing an easy way for people to create their own geo-data using software from Open Street Map, the project that creates and distributes free geographic data for the world.

Placelet by MIT Media Lab (Project lead: Elizabeth Christoforetti; Cambridge, Mass.): Developing sensors that will collect data on movement, audio and air quality in urban places to encourage more sensitive urban planning and design processes that will better serve communities.

Project Facet (Project lead: Heather Bryant; San Francisco): Helping newsrooms plan and coordinate coverage across publishing platforms through an editorial workflow management app that fosters collaboration across teams and with outside partners.

Public Access to Pricing Personalization by Northeastern University (Project lead: Jason Radford; Boston): Allowing people to see how retailers personalize their user experience and apply price differentiation through a website that will show personalized and non-personalized versions of common retail sites. 

Real-Time Foreign Lobbying Mashup by Sunlight Foundation (Project lead: Bob Lannon; Washington, D.C.): Bringing more transparency to the influence that foreign countries have over U.S. politics and policies through a tool that will highlight data collected under the Foreign Agent Registration Act; the tool will identify connections between foreign clients and their U.S. agents.

Scrubadub by Datascope Analytics (Project lead: Dean Malmgren; Chicago): Helping researchers, journalists and others more easily and ethically analyze unstructured text through a tool that scrubs personally identifiable information from raw text.

SpeakEZ by School of Information Studies, CCENT Lab, Syracuse University (Project lead: Murali Venkatesh; Syracuse, N.Y.): Helping the Burmese Karen refugee population in Syracuse, N.Y., get access to a range of resources using their mobile phones through an information system that uses interactive voice response.

Terrapattern Mining Tool by Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University (Project lead: Golan Levin; Pittsburgh, Penn.): Enabling journalists, citizen scientists, humanitarian workers and others to detect “patterns of interest” in satellite imagery, through an open-source tool. For example, users could use the tool to identify destroyed buildings in conflict zones.

User-Friendly Application for Election Data by Johnson County Election Office (Project lead: Nathan Carter; Olathe, Kans.): Making it easier for voters, journalists, candidates and others to access election-related information through an application that will compile this data and allow users to query and filter it according to their needs.

Vote Worker Data Project by Fair Elections Legal Network (Project leads: Bob Brandon and Jon Sherman; Washington, D.C.): Making it easier to recruit election poll workers through a search tool that will allow citizens to look for opportunities to serve as poll workers, list their skills and apply to positions.  

Visualizing Thick Data by IIT Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology (Project lead: Kim Erwin; Chicago): Helping researchers and others visualize qualitative data through an easy-to-use, Web-based application designed for fast, efficient data exploration.

VOYAGER by Bocoup (Project lead: Irene Ros; Boston): Enabling people to explore and understand complex data sets quickly using visual tools that automate visualization processes and respond to user feedback; the project is a collaboration with the Interactive Data Lab at the University of Washington. 

YourNextRepresentative by DataMade (Project leads: Derek Eder and Martín Szyszlican; Chicago): Expanding, a crowdsourcing website for gathering and sharing key information on election candidates, to the United States and Argentina; the project is a collaboration with Argentina-based Congreso Interactivo.

Virtual Reality for Journalists by University of Texas at Austin (Project lead: R.B. Brenner; Austin, Texas): Helping journalists introduce virtual-reality content into their storytelling through an open-source tool designed to make publishing simple, operating like a WordPress for virtual reality.