158 finalists move forward in the Knight Cities Challenge

Above: The family lounge area at Pop-Up Pool in Philadelphia, a 2015 Knight Cities Challenge winner. Credit Monica Peters.

Civic innovators from across the country submitted more than 4,500 ideas to this year’s Knight Cities Challenge. That’s a lot of ideas. More importantly, that’s a lot of people who care enough about their city to sit down and write about what they want to do to make it more successful. Picking a set of finalists from that field is a daunting and difficult task.

After two months of reading and deliberating and receiving invaluable advice and support from more than 40 grantees and experts who we called reviewers, today we’re announcing 158 finalists in this year’s challenge.

The finalists have until the end of January to submit full applications. We’ll review those applications and the recommendations, budgets, renderings and other supporting documents that come with them, alongside another set of reviewers and Knight’s board of trustees. I’m sure we’ll have an even tougher time deciding who actually ends up winning this year’s challenge awards.

Detroit and Philadelphia have the biggest number of finalists with 20 each. And for the second year, Detroit also had the best response to the challenge with 767 total applications.

We run the Knight Cities Challenge to find new ideas that help Knight cities (and cities everywhere) to attract and retain talent, expand economic opportunity and create and strengthen a culture of civic engagement. We know that those three elements are crucial to city success. But there are a lot of ways to advance each of those objectives. That’s why there is so much diversity of projects represented in the finalist pool.

This year I was pleased to see many applications focusing on bringing people of different economic circumstances together and helping to move toward economic integration. We also saw a big uptick in the applications that focused on increasing civic engagement, with the particular focus of increasing local, informed voting. To attract and retain talent, many applicants focused on leveraging existing community assets to build a new reputation for the city or the neighborhood.

The challenge has a bias for action. We want to fund projects that can be completed (and tested) during the 18-month grant term. We want to capture that learning and share it among those in our network so that all of our grantees can work more effectively. So you’ll be hearing plenty more about these projects.

For the applications that didn’t make it to the finalist stage, we value those ideas. While they weren’t selected in the challenge, some of them may be able to find other sources of funding, including local Knight grants. Or the process may have introduced applicants to potential new collaborators. At one meetup in Philadelphia we had more than 250 people in the room. One thing is for sure, if you’re committed to making your city more successful, we want you in our network. We hope that all of the applicants will stay in touch with Knight and work alongside us to make the places we care about even more successful.

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to submit an idea and to our team of reviewers for reading them. We’re looking forward to reading the final applications. Winners will be announced in spring 2016.

Carol Coletta is vice president of community and national initiatives at Knight Foundation. Follow her on Twitter @ccoletta.Knight Cities Challenge Finalists 2016

Akron, Ohio:

#Route10: Akron’s Better Bus Stop Project by 8 80 Cities (submitted by Alyssa Bird): Encouraging new conversations about transit and life in the city of Akron with a daylong event that invites civic leaders to experience newly animated bus stops along Route 10, featuring entertainment and new amenities.

Coffee/Drink/Dance (submitted by Annal Vyas): Creating a new website that pairs residents who don’t know one another to attend events and meet for conversations that help break down barriers between people from across the city.

Middlebury House by Akron Honey Co. (submitted by: Brent Wesley): Developing the Akron Honey Co.’s apiary in the historic Middlebury neighborhood into a community space for recreation, education and other activities that help residents connect with each other and other areas of the city.

Cuyahoga Explore-a-Foot (submitted by Brian Davis): Encouraging visitors to explore remote regions of Cuyahoga Valley National Park by providing services and amenities, such as help with travel arrangements and baggage transport, that make it more accessible.

Akron Shorts by The Devil Strip (submitted by Chris Horne): Strengthening civic engagement by installing stations around the city that would dispense art, stories, trivia, games and more, and encourage the public to share their own creations with fellow residents.

Akron Innerbelt Bike Park (submitted by Jonathan Morschl): Providing new life for an abandoned section of highway by creating a “bicycle park” that promotes cycling, encourages new riders and attracts cyclists from throughout the region and nation.

Invite Akron by Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park (submitted by Jen McAnlis-Harvey): Encouraging use of the area’s premier public space, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, by inviting residents from every walk of life, and especially those who don’t regularly visit the park, to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial with free transportation and events.

Developing Community Blue Zones: Keys to Longer, Healthier Lives by Akron General Health System/Akron General Foundation (submitted by Laura Jo Hawk): Exploring how to create successful “Blue Zones” in Akron, areas that promote healthful living conditions and options, such as developing walking trails, shedding stress and eliminating food deserts.

One Lake One Community by #KenmoreUnited (submitted by Nolan James): Bringing together residents from different sides of Summit Lake who don’t traditionally interact through a meal and celebration that encourages use of the lake as a shared resource.

Akron Tread Lightly (submitted by Shane Wynn): Encouraging biking throughout the city with a campaign that emphasizes the variety of experiences and amenities that are available by exploring the urban core on two wheels.

Biloxi/Gulfport, Miss.

A Vieux of Biloxi (submitted by Danielle Rodriguez): Attracting more people to Biloxi by highlighting the city’s culinary diversity and history in a rehabbed downtown marketplace.

LOQUI: Biloxi by Context Is Everything (submitted by Maryanna Rogers): Building civic connections by transforming six small businesses near Interstate 10 into “story stops” that promote authentic storytelling and the region’s culture and food.

Urban Retail Village by Gulfport Main Street Association (submitted by Laurie Toups): Increasing vibrancy in downtown Gulfport with a new urban retail village made out of repurposed shipping containers.

Boulder, Colo.

Go Go Government by city of Boulder (submitted by Amanda Nagl): Increasing civic engagement by creating a mobile city hall that visits neighborhoods to help residents talk about the issues that are most important to them, educates them about local concerns, and encourages them to work together to create solutions and take advantage of community opportunities.

Tree Debris to Opportunity by city of Boulder (submitted by Yvette Bowden): Expanding economic opportunity for members of the community in need of new skills and careers by training them to turn debris from infested and diseased trees into furniture and art.

C-Cubed: Connecting Community to Careers by Dream Big Initiative (submitted by Kristin Pazulski): Helping people underrepresented in technology and science fields discover opportunity in the sectors through mentoring, education and internships.

Bradenton, Fla.

Play Social: Reimagining the Shuffleboard Park for All Generations by Realize Bradenton (submitted by Catherine Ferrer): Building new connections by bringing together people from diverse populations through intergenerational play in an emerging neighborhood in downtown Bradenton.

Bradenton Innovates by Spark Growth (submitted by Stan Schultes): Engaging diverse residents to share ideas that focus on community challenges and opportunities, and collaboratively create solutions through human-centered design, which builds audience needs into the innovation process.

Charlotte, N.C.

Foodie Court for Monroe Road Corridor by Monroe Road Community Association (submitted by Leslie Scott): Creating a community gathering space offering good food, as well as programs and activities that bring residents from diverse backgrounds together and encourage them to connect.

RAD (Random Acts of Dinner) (submitted by Ephraim Gerard Gorham): Bringing people from diverse backgrounds and income levels to the dinner table at local restaurants to network, discuss ideas to improve the community and enjoy great food.

Can Do Signs by city of Charlotte (submitted by Sarah Hazel): Rethinking municipal signs that typically tell people “what not to do,” to spur fun, imagination and positivity throughout Charlotte; the project will create signs that provide amusing, enchanting, fun options: You can dance! You can sing! You can skip!

Hops, Hopscotch and Hope by ParentsTogether (submitted by Ailen Arreaza): Helping to connect, educate and mobilize parents around issues that matter to urban families (i.e. schools, safety, transit) through a monthly symposium.

Cards for QC-ity by University of North Carolina Charlotte Urban Institute (submitted by Diane Gavarkavich): Creating a card game that motivates players to learn about Charlotte; the game will address topics such as city history, famous residents, hot spots, landmarks, superstitions, and more.

The Little Free (Connected) Library by Knight School of Communication at Queens University (submitted by Eric Freedman): Transforming free neighborhood libraries into Wi-Fi hotspots that support more digital literacy, a new connected workforce and greater civic engagement.

SkillPop: Community-Based Pop-Up Classes by SkillPop (submitted by Haley Bohon)

Connecting newcomers and residents alike with community-driven pop-up classes that allow people to learn new skills, meet people and discover interesting places.

CrownTownHall by city of Charlotte (submitted by Jason Lawrence): Helping residents more easily connect with their local government and get involved with civic issues through pop-up events where they can meet elected officials, sign up for city services, and review area planning efforts.

Dancin’ in the Street by city of Charlotte (submitted by Sarah Hazel and Phil Reiger): Transforming a mundane Uptown street crossing into a dance party by replace the “walking man” street crossing signal with a dancing animation, and introducing dance music and other prompts to encourage people to dance across the street.

Queen City Quiz Show by Charlotte Is Creative (submitted by Tim Miner): Creating a mobile quiz show that will team local musicians and artists with cultural groups to entertain, enlighten and challenge diverse communities with questions about the city from the trivial to the pertinent and controversial.

Columbia, S.C.

Columbia Canal Connector by city of Columbia Planning Division (Submitted by Lucinda Statler): Encouraging people to walk, bike and connect by providing a missing link under the Jarvis-Klapman Bridge that will complete the Three Rivers Greenway, along the Historic Columbia Canal.

Stormwater City by Chambers Design (submitted by Neil Chambers): Engaging people in community problem-solving by addressing stormwater problems through “rain parks” that can soak up rainfall runoff from buildings and paved areas; a digital toolkit will educate communities on how to build these parks.

Columbus, Ga.

Active Transportation Made Easy and Affordable (submitted by Brinkley B. Pound): Improving community life and building connections between neighborhoods, businesses and other favorite places by providing affordable and sustainable options for resident and visitor access to bicycles.

Evolving MidTown: Lot by Lot, Block by Block by Incremental Development Alliance (submitted by Jim Kumon): Recruiting and training a diverse group of individuals on skills to become small-scale developers; participants will use distressed or underused lots as beta projects and receive access to investors and other resources.

Light the Way by Columbus Consolidated Government Community Reinvestment Division (submitted by Phillip Trocquet): Stringing lights between buildings in distressed areas of Columbus where mixed commercial building density is high, but development is low; the project aims to promote safety, more street activity and development in these areas.

Chattahoochee River Swim by Housing Authority of Columbus (submitted by Len Williams): Building an enclosed pool in the Chattahoochee River neighborhood adjacent to the Chase Homes public housing development that will encourage diverse residents from across the city to meet and connect.

Urban Glen by city of Columbus (submitted by Phillip Trocquet): Creating “urban glens” — inviting spaces with trees, lights and hammocks — on vacant and overgrown lots to encourage people to meet and connect, while cleaning up city-owned properties.


The Underground Order of Tactical Urbanists (submitted by Chad Rochkind): Creating a network of tactical urbanists who collectively select a single urban challenge each year on which to focus quick, low-cost, creative improvements.

Detroit Bureau of Emergent Urbanity by MODCaR (submitted by Jean Louis Farges): Repurposing a vacant area into a public space and open forum for design innovation and urban transformation; the project will connect designers with residents to help them make real their  ideas for bringing positive change to the city through the forum and by way of a digital platform.

GLoW: DeTROiT by BANKAi Group (submitted by FaShon Vega): Installing artist-designed lighting solutions in Detroit neighborhoods to improve neighborhood life and encourage more people to live and work in the city.

Detroit’s Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone by Detroit Department of Planning and Development (submitted by Maurice D. Cox): Creating new opportunities for jobs and businesses by developing a new tool to streamline city development regulations and engaging design talent and developers to help reshape commercial districts.

Southwest Detroit Is Poppin’ by Southwest Detroit Business Association (submitted by Ouida Jones): Engaging artists and entrepreneurs to create entertaining pop-up events in vacant spaces in Southwest Detroit neighborhoods to attract new interest and people to the area.

Mobile Bamboo by Bamboo Detroit L3C (submitted by Amanda Lewan): Exposing more residents to the opportunities that are available to start or grow a business in Detroit by expanding Bamboo Detroit, a co-working community for entrepreneurs, into neighborhoods with mobile sites that offer learning and networking events.

Permit Corps by Michigan Municipal League Foundation (submitted by Samantha Harkins): Making it easier to get stuff done in Detroit by connecting students who can provide free expertise on navigating city regulations and codes to residents who need their services.

Ignite Design Detroit (submitted by Ron Watters): Engaging Detroit youth in designing solutions that improve the day-to-day life of Detroiters through a series of workshops that teach participants about industrial design and entrepreneurship.

Side X Sidelots by Detroit Future City (submitted by Victoria Olivier): Transforming vacant land in the city with the help of Detroit Future City’s “Field Guide to Working With Lots”; the project will recruit ambassadors to work with neighborhoods on using the step-by-step guide to transform vacant or underused lots.

Soy Entrepreneur:  Business Success through Language Access by Global Detroit (submitted by Raquel Garcia Andersen): Connecting Detroit’s Spanish businesses with the city’s larger entrepreneurial ecosystem through a shared workspace that will provide Internet access, computers and digital media equipment, as well as learning  and networking opportunities. Partners on the project include Community Alliance and Garage Cultural.

Dequindre Cut Market by Detroit RiverFront Conservancy (submitted by Mark Wallace): Creating spaces for entrepreneurs to set up shop along the Dequindre Cut with shipping container pop-up shops that will add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and attract new interest.

Bike-alogues (submitted by Cornetta Lane): Exploring Detroit’s untold history through monthly bike tours leading participants through different areas of the city and giving residents a chance to tell the story of their neighborhoods.

Walk In, Don’t Knock by Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (submitted by Juanita Moore): Creating a new public plaza at the Wright Museum, the world’s largest African-American history museum, to provide a public space for residents to connect around cultural and community issues.

Storefront Speakeasy by Live6 (submitted by Lauren Hood): Transforming abandoned commercial storefronts with a pop-up culture cafe showcasing regional live music and spoken word.

Neighborhoods Rising by ARISE Detroit (submitted by Luther Keith): Using the power of radio and community by introducing ARISE Detroit radio listeners to programs showcasing organizations and individuals working for positive change and encouraging them to join efforts to contribute to city growth.

Give One, Get One by city of Detroit (submitted by Maurice D. Cox): Creating sustainable microparks in Detroit neighborhoods that are designed in response to community needs, require few resources and are easy to maintain.

The Green Turn-Up Effect by Detroit Future City Implementation Office (submitted by Shari Williams): Training youth on environmental sustainability and landscape architecture to educate them on transforming vacant lots, creating profitable business models through this work, and implementing what they learn; youth will partner with community members to develop their ideas.

What We’ve Never Learned Before Will Surprise Us! by Welcome Mat Detroit (submitted by  Mary Lane): Breaking down community barriers with a conversation series that focuses on race relations and immigration, addressing important issues such as refugee policy, and equity and police conduct.

College Core Community Corridor by Detroit Collaborative Design Center, University of Detroit Mercy (submitted by Ceara O’Leary): Building a pedestrian greenway and open spaces on vacant land that connects the area between the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College; the project will be driven by neighborhood residents and a resident task force from each project block.

Community Sense: Sensor-Based City Learning for the K-20 Detroit Pipeline by University of Michigan School of Education (submitted by Elizabeth Birr Moje): Training youth to use sensors and data analytics that track environmental conditions such as traffic, noise or temperature in city neighborhoods; the project will help students answer questions about their community and build ideas to make it better.

Duluth, Minn.

industrial PARK by Design Duluth Collaborative/University of Minnesota Twin Cities (submitted by Brian Olsen): Creating a vibrant and profitable waterfront by improving connections between trails and open spaces along the St. Louis River corridor and to the community of Irving.

Opening the Can of Worms (submitted by Katie Loecken): Developing vibrant public spaces between Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, and adjacent communities and the riverfront to promote business development, increase activity and better connect a previously isolated area to the rest of the city.

Wheels That Lived to Move (submitted by Sharon Yung): Providing artistic, refurbished road bikes at bus stops to generate either music or heat (in winter) through pedaling.

Ft. Wayne, Ind.

Tired-a-Lot by Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center (submitted by Réna Bradley): Creating a design studio that will engage local youth to identify and create solutions to transform vacant lots in their neighborhood with low-cost materials.

Creative Collaboratory Jam (CCJ) by Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (submitted by Mike Fritsch): Creating a space equipped with art and technology, where diverse groups can participate in “idea jams” to solve community problems, have fun and figure out ways to execute ideas.

Gary, Ind.

Building Blocks by city of Gary (submitted by LaShawn Brooks): Creating community engagement teams to expand blight elimination efforts in Gary, focused on mobilizing and organizing volunteers to help clean up parts of the city.

PlaceSpace by Anderson Library, Indiana University Northwest (submitted by Timothy Sutherland): Creating an interactive space in Andersen Library that will bring city leaders, citizens and the University of Indiana Northwest community  together to address community challenges and work on collaborative projects.

SoFA (South of Fourth Avenue) Gary by EnthuseGroup and Blue 1647 Collaborative (submitted by Melvin Thompson): Repurposing a vacant lot into a new downtown tech-driven live-work-and-play destination that encourages talented young adults to live in Gary’s downtown core.

Creating Economic Opportunity in Gary Through Building Material Reclamation and Reuse by Delta Institute (submitted by Eve Pytel): Establishing a reuse facility that would reclaim building materials, such as lumber, from vacant homes in Gary to contribute to economic growth, create jobs and support businesses, and provide opportunities for community collaboration on development projects.

Grand Forks, N.D.

Grand Forks Presents: Winter Streets! by 8 80 Cities (submitted by Jonathan Holth and Stephanie Erickson): Creating the first Winter Streets festival to bring life to streets, and entice  people of all ages out of hibernation.

New Flavors Food Truck (submitted by Pete Haga): Offering new American residents access to a generic food truck and the equipment they need to start their own food service business or restaurant.

Public Art, Alternative Sports and Gathering Space by Ground Up Adventures (submitted by Michelle Rydz): Increasing connections among community residents, especially millennials, with a new outdoor space that blends public art, a skate park and a climbing wall.

Lexington, Ky.

Super Play (submitted by Griffin VanMeter): Building a family-friendly gathering and play space for the community to encourage talented young adults to live in the city.

Fancy Lex (submitted by Clay Thornton): Creating a festival that showcases Kentucky Proud products, and local music and businesses, while connecting local government representatives with residents to share their role, work and vision.

Family-Centered Public Spaces by Lexington Public Library (submitted by Anne Donworth): Transforming Phoenix Park and Central Library into a place where children and families from diverse backgrounds can learn and play together; the project would involve complementary park and library programming and activities for families.

Parking Lot Diaries by Lexington Downtown Development Authority (submitted by Jeff Fugate): Creating a living civic engagement lab in an underused area next to the Transit Center that tests and tracks temporary interventions and activities designed to add vibrancy to the area; the project will contribute to the city’s Town Branch Commons plan.

Water for All by Blue Grass Community Foundation (submitted by Lisa Adkins): Transforming an underutilized park into Lexington’s first splash park and gathering space situated at the junction of four economically and racially diverse neighborhoods.

Long Beach, Calif.

DeForest Wetlands Neighborhood Access by Global Green USA (submitted by Tim Bevins): Connecting an underserved neighborhood to the recently restored DeForest Wetlands adjacent to the Los Angeles River in Long Beach by providing direct access via a public stairway and ramp.

MADE in Long Beach by Localism Inc. (submitted by DW Ferrell): Increasing economic opportunity with MADE, an accelerator for local independent businesses that uses technology to help sell their products and connect them to the community.

The Outdoor Office by Long Beach City Manager’s Office (submitted by Rachael Tanner): Promoting creativity and collaboration in Long Beach by transforming a portion of a public park into a space that encourages collaboration and productivity and encourages residents to take work to the park.

Placemaking the Vote by City Fabrick  (submitted by Brian Ulaszewski): Developing a kit for creating temporary pop-up social spaces at voting polls in historically low voter turnout areas to encourage people to vote and provide venues to celebrate democracy afterwards.

Strip Down to Become a Center by City Fabrick (submitted by Brian Ulaszewski): Converting a strip retail center into a vibrant community space by working with existing businesses and neighborhood members to reconfigure the parking lot into shared space for people to meet and connect, and introduce new amenities and activities.

Macon, Ga.

Macon General Store (submitted by David Moore): Transforming a vacant storefront into a marketplace that gives rising entrepreneurs the opportunity to sell local products.

The Tindall Project: Voices From the Hood (submitted by Deborah-Patrice Hamlin)

Engaging the the historic Tindall Heights Housing Project community in event-driven discussions about Macon’s rich musical heritage and showcasing the city’s new musical talent.

Intergenerational Pop-Up Park Goes Permanent by Macon Bibb County Parks and Beautification (submitted by Stephen Lawson): Creating a pop-up park to encourage connections among seniors, children and families from different backgrounds and income levels.

Neighborhood Incubator by Historic Macon Foundation (submitted by Ethiel Garlington): Teaching citizens how to organize neighborhood associations that would help address community challenges such as crime, litter, blight and other issues.

Pop-Up Minimum Grid in Macon by NewTown Macon (submitted by Josh Rogers): Creating a pop-up minimum grid that would allow citizens to explore their city safely on foot or on bicycles; the project would expand a trail system from the river to downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.


Thrive Kitchen by Opa-locka Community Development Corp. (submitted by Aileen Alon): Creating a shared commercial kitchen and business incubator to stimulate Miami’s food entrepreneurs and cultivate talent in South Florida’s underserved communities.

First Taste: Little River by First Taste (submitted by Amy Rosenberg):

Enabling food entrepreneurs at a regular food flea market in Little River to showcase their products to the public and grow their businesses; the market will also serve as a gathering space for residents who want produce, international delicacies, and more.

Orange Blossom Parkway Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail for Proposed Hialeah Market  District by city of Hialeah (submitted by Annette Quintana): Creating an urban linear park connecting Hialeah Market Station and Hialeah Drive to provide residents with a space to walk, bike, play and connect.

Community Asset Platform by Center for Applied Transect Studies (submitted by Hank Dittmar): Creating an online platform that will map neighborhood assets and underused public areas (vacant lots, empty storefronts) and engage residents in redevelopment efforts; the platform would help connect residents to collaborate on projects, and highlight funding sources and other information.

DomiNest by IoCI (submitted by Malik Benjamin): Transforming Miami’s iconic “Domino Park” to bring people from diverse backgrounds and ages together for a game of dominos.

Living with Water: Miami Beach Blueways Connector by city of Miami Beach (submitted by  Judy Hoanshelt): Creating a kayak-sharing program that will build on Miami’s transportation network and introduce people to the city’s waterways and unique aquatic ecosystems; kayak stations would be located close to existing bike-share, car-share and transit hubs.

The Underline: Brickell Backyard Outdoor Gym/Sports Field by Friends of The Underline (submitted by Meg Daly): Creating a sports field and gym as part of The Underline, a proposed 10-mile linear park underneath the Miami-Dade Metrorail, to provide quality of life incentives to talented young adults.

BlockWork Miami (submitted by Nassar Farid Mufdi Ruiz): Providing an annual incentive for residents to transform their neighborhoods block by block; residents would nominate a block for revitalization and would restore it, if it’s chosen to  receive funding.

Open Source Democracy by Engage Miami (submitted by Gabriel Pendas): Creating an app that provides information on issues that the Miami-Dade County Commission and other municipalities are voting on, and allows residents to discuss and cast their own vote on how they feel about a particular issue.

Miami Civic User Testing Group by Code for Miami (submitted by Rebekah Monson): Ensuring that people building local government technology use real-world feedback throughout the development process by creating a user testing group that will identify user experience issues more quickly, while making websites and apps more accessible.

Biscayne Green: Pop-Up Park by Miami Downtown Development Authority (submitted by Fabian de la Espriella): Creating a pop-up park and urban forest along Biscayne Boulevard to drive momentum for “Biscayne Green,” a proposal to redesign Biscayne Boulevard to include a pedestrian promenade.

Milledgeville, Ga.

From Concrete to Retreat by Georgia College and State University (submitted by Jim Lidstone): Transforming a strip mall into an attractive oasis of trees, grass, benches, umbrellas, and shops, where people from diverse backgrounds can gather and connect.

The Democracy Lab by Twin Lakes Library System (submitted by Stephen Houser): Creating a shared space in downtown Milledgeville, located next to City Hall and near a makerspace and a library, that will foster civic engagement through public events, meetings that gather residents and leaders to problem-solve, and resources that better connect civic institutions.


Engaging for Opportunity in Rapidly Changing Neighborhoods by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (submitted by Alexa Rosenberg): Developing approaches to create more connection and social cohesion in rapidly changing neighborhoods, through community conversations and other activities that bring residents from diverse backgrounds together to contribute to community growth.

You Are Here: Collaborating to Create Neighborhood Identities by Big Car Collaborative (submitted by Channie Jones): Forging stronger neighborhood identities in Fort Wayne and Gary by reinforcing neighborhood brands that help residents and prospective residents develop more intense attachments to urban areas with unique identities.

MAD Public Kitchen by Gehl Institute and MAD (submitted by Eveline Petcu): Using food to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to eat, meet and learn in an urban kitchen that will also help bring new life to underused public space in the community.

Voting Simulator by GLITCH (submitted by Evva Kraikul): Increasing civic engagement by creating “Voting Simulator” digital games in St. Paul and Duluth, Minn., to help millennials and others navigate the voting process.

ONTourism by IoCI (submitted by Malik Benjamin): Creating an Office of Nerd Tourism to provide information and activities for people interested in learning while traveling in Knight communities.

Slow Roll Breaks Down Barriers by Slow Roll Detroit (submitted by Jason Hall): Expanding Detroit’s dynamic community-building bike ride Slow Roll, which brings a diverse urban and suburban audience together to explore their city and create new experiences, to other Knight communities.

Sworn-Again America by Citizen University (submitted by Jena Cane): Increasing civic engagement through an interactive, entertaining and emotional road show that helps people reconnect with what it means to be an active citizen.

PLATFORM (submitted by Jim Lasko): Using temporary creative and performance art to develop long-term solutions that increase value and help to solve local issues in Akron, Ohio, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Lexington, Ky.

Labyrinth of Knowledge (submitted by Maya Thadhani and Monika Thadhani): Retaining talented people by creating digital learning opportunities for children and families in public spaces.

This Is Home by Global Ties Miami (submitted by Annette G. Alvarez): Welcoming refugee and immigrant families and connecting them with their neighbors and neighborhoods through shared community dinners and cultural experiences.

Bicycle-Oriented Districts (BODs) by Crandall Arambula PC (submitted by Don Arambula): Demonstrating how small communities lacking public transit options can develop bicycle networks to spur community connections and investment.

Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Charlie’s Place Neighborhood Market by city of Myrtle Beach (submitted by Edna W. Wright) Expanding economic opportunity and increasing neighborhood pride by restoring Charlie’s Place, a historic entertainment venue, as a hub for selling local produce operated by local residents.

Palm Beach County, Fla.

Friends of the Quadrille Linear Park (submitted by Aaron Wormus): Taking advantage of  the construction around the All Aboard Florida rail service to create a “friends” group to work towards a new linear park for downtown West Palm Beach.

Art Avenida by Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (submitted by Joan Olliva): Improving public space in Lake Worth by transforming four downtown intersections with art, light, plantings and structures that celebrate diverse cultures.

A People First Design Criteria for Streets in the City of West Palm Beach by city of West Palm Beach (submitted by Chris Roog): Improving streets and public rights of way by developing design standards that prioritize people over cars.

The Sunset Rises Again! by city of West Palm Beach (submitted by Jon Ward): Creating a new cultural hub in the Northwest Historic District on the site of a former jazz club and surrounding land.


The Meadow at Wister Station by Baynton Hill Neighbors Association (submitted by Amanda Staples): Attracting and retaining talented people by revitalizing the blighted corridor near the Wister rail station with a perennial garden.

The Family Garden by Group Melvin Design (submitted by Ben Bryant): Retaining talented millennials with children in Philadelphia by reimagining the pop-up beer garden as a family-oriented neighborhood experience.

The Little Music Studio: An Open Access Playground for Musicians by Group Melvin Design (submitted by Ben Bryant): Breaking down community barriers with The Little Music Studio, a traveling playground for musicians.

20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses by Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (submitted by Caitlin Quigley): Increasing civic engagement and economic opportunity by launching book clubs in 20 Philadelphia neighborhoods for participants to study cooperative businesses and then form their own.

Councilmatic: Get Alerts for Local Events by Participatory Politics Foundation (submitted by David Moore): Increasing civic engagement by enabling residents to subscribe to alerts for public events, such as city meetings, via email and text messaging.

Real World 101 by The Enterprise Center (submitted by Jesse Blitzstein): Retaining talented people in Philadelphia by connecting college students and local businesses to engage in mutually beneficial projects, such as building websites and refining financial plans.

City Safari by City Safari (submitted by Marjolijn Masselink): Increasing civic engagement with city tours led by locals that take visitors to places that are off the beaten path.

Diner De Famille – Philadelphia, 2016 (submitted by Tammy Cummings): Breaking down community barriers with the Diner de Famille, a pop-up dinner for families in Philadelphia held on the same night as Diner en Blanc, an experience celebrated around the world that brings together masses of people dressed in white for a shared meal.

Beyond the Census: Building a Positive Data Story of a Community’s Human Resources by Germantown United CDC (submitted by Emaleigh Doley): Increasing economic opportunity by discovering new data about underserved neighborhoods that attract new businesses and investment.

Harlem Renaissance: Multicity Retrospective Festival by The Brothers’ Network (submitted by Gregory Walker): Breaking down barriers and fostering community pride by showcasing the contribution of African-American men to cultural life in Knight communities.

Viola Street Connector by Viola Street Residents Association (submitted by Joyce Smith): Breaking down community barriers by transforming a dilapidated alley that connects the Parkside Historic District and the Centennial District with art and events.

The Colored Girls Museum by The Colored Girls Museum (submitted by Vashti DuBois): Building pride in Philadelphia’s underserved neighborhoods by documenting the stories of Philadelphia’s black women through exhibits in residents’ houses.

Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers: Food as a Bridge to Cultural Understanding by Reading Terminal Market (submitted by Anuj Gupta): Building cultural bridges to Philadelphia’s immigrant communities with cooking classes celebrating ethnic food operated by chefs from Reading Terminal Market.

Reengaging Youth in Education and Communities: Design Build Rebooted by Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, Drexel University (submitted by Geraldine Wang): Increasing civic engagement by helping high school youth to shape their own communities through a design-build studio run by Drexel University.

Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship by Little Giant Creative (submitted by Tayyib Smith): Increasing economic opportunity by using hip-hop to provide hands-on business training to members of low-income groups.

Boat Philly by Fairmount Park Conservancy (submitted by Elizabeth Moselle): Transforming underused Meadow Lake in South Philadelphia into an active urban boating destination as a pilot to promote boating throughout the city.

DoGoodr by The Philadelphia Citizen (submitted by Jenn McCreary): Increasing civic engagement with a new app that matches Philadelphians with other individuals, groups and civic organizations for learning opportunities and action.

Money Laundering: So Clean, How Can It Be Free? by Forward LLC (submitted by Max Glass): Increasing economic opportunity and civic engagement by turning a blighted laundromat into an inviting public space that provides free laundry services.

Rewilding Philadelphia by Groundswell Design Group (submitted by Molly Lux): Creating a network of parks and “wild” spaces in the city to help residents learn about the environment and reconnect with nature.

Workspace Project Pop-Up by Groundswell Design Group (submitted by Molly Lux): Attracting and retaining talented people by using repurposed shipping containers to create affordable and unique community co-working spaces.

San Jose, Calif.

Urban Food Hub by Veggielution (submitted by Cayce Hill): Increasing economic opportunity with a community hub in Emma Prusch Park that connects food entrepreneurs and residents through a market, classes and other events that celebrate San Jose’s history and culture.

Smart Street by San Jose State University (submitted by Jerry Gao): Creating a “smart street” that showcases cutting-edge technology, helps to attract more people to the city and bolsters San Jose’s brand identity.

Post Street Night Market (submitted by Justin Triano): Expanding economic opportunity with a recurring night market that features local crafts, food and entertainment.

SITability Project by URBAN SPACEship (submitted by Leemor Chandally): Creating a network of modular street furniture designed to encourage interaction between people in public spaces.

San Jose Local Maker Incubator by Local Label dba San Jose Made (SJMADE) (submitted by Marie Millares): Increasing economic opportunity with a business incubator for local makers and artists seeking to turn their passion into a full-time job.

East Side Linear Park by San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services (submitted by Marybeth Harasz): Increasing civic engagement by having residents help convert a public street into a new linear park along Havana Drive in East San Jose.

Green Necklace by Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (submitted by Shiloh Ballard): Expanding public space and increasing community connections by permanently opening trails along San Jose’s closed canal system to pedestrians and cyclists.

The MayFeria by School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza (submitted by Tamara Alvarado): Increasing civic engagement and expanding economic opportunity in San Jose’s Mayfair neighborhood with The MayFeria, which will consist of folklife events, a community task force, and a coordinator to help identify and make better use of cultural and civic assets.

St Paul, Minn.

Taking Down Fences, Celebrating New Space Together by The Trust for Public Land (submitted by Hilary Smith): Creating new green space along St. Paul’s Central Corridor by transforming a vacant lot into a park for soccer and other activities; the space will also advance a larger plan for the area that includes a new Major League soccer stadium.

More Than a Single Continent: An Intellectual Tour of Little Africa by African Economic Development Solutions (submitted by Gene Gelgelu): Increasing community engagement and breaking down social barriers through a series of events featuring food, music and discussions at restaurants in St. Paul’s Little Africa neighborhood.

Bright Collective (submitted by Kris Huson): Increasing civic engagement and community connections with a catalog of experts that residents can “check out” to learn more on a variety of topics.

It’s Cool by St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (submitted by Margaret Jones): Encouraging more use of public space in fall and early spring through pilot projects that provide heaters and other infrastructure to make the environment more comfortable for people to gather and share meals and conversation.

Front Lawn Placemaking by The Musicant Group (submitted by Max Musicant): Transforming front lawns from empty expanses of grass to vibrant places full of life through the development of a toolkit that encourages residents to create community hubs on their doorsteps.

St. Paul veloCITY Academy for Emerging Public Innovators by city of St. Paul (submitted by Scott Cordes): Increasing civic engagement in partnership with GovLoop and Textizen by designing a cutting-edge learning experience that uses tools such as text messaging to inspire and equip emerging leaders.

Civic Shed by St. Paul Riverfront Corp. (submitted by Tim Griffin): Creating an accessible set of public space prototyping tools, such as landscaping elements and seating–and places to store them–for use by community groups to test neighborhood improvements.

Welcome Neighbor (submitted by Tousue Vang): Welcoming new immigrants with a resource packet that features information on events, services and stores to help them acclimate to life in Minnesota.

Neighborhood Beer Garden Tour by St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (submitted by Ross Currier): Promoting civic engagement and community connections by creating pop-up beer gardens in each of St. Paul’s 17 neighborhoods and encouraging residents to visit the different neighborhoods.

I’m Going to Vote Today! (submitted by Aaron Sackett): Testing a new way to increase participation in local elections by distributing stickers that read “I’m Going to Vote Today” to eligible voters to wear on Election Day.

State College, Pa.

State College Petting Zoo by Penn State Friendly Cities Lab (submitted by Clio Andris): Increasing civic engagement and connections between the local university population and residents with a petting zoo in a downtown that will also offer volunteer opportunities and educational information.

Community Collaborative Ice Luminary by The Make Space (submitted by John Stitzinger): Increasing civic engagement through a maker event that encourages residents to make ice luminaries, share the mold for the luminaries with their neighbors, and set a record by lighting up the town.

The LaunchBox by Pennsylvania State University (submitted by James Delattre): Expanding economic opportunity by creating a hub in downtown State College that connects talented entrepreneurs from Penn State and the local community together with training, workspace and technology.

Tallahassee, Fla.

Open University Tallahassee by The Village (submitted by Christine E. Nieves): Strengthening civic engagement by launching a series of talks in unlikely public spaces around town, featuring local college educators, civic leaders and artists.

Tallahassee Innovation Partnership (TIP) by Tallahassee Office of the Mayor (submitted by Michael Alfano): Expanding economic opportunity by helping local small businesses and entrepreneurs pitch their products and services to large institutions with substantial purchasing power.

The Longest Table by Tallahassee Office of the Mayor (submitted by Michael Alfano): Building cross-community relationships with an expanded series of community conversations over meals  in 100 homes.

Wichita, Kan.

Waves of Collaboration: Creative Caravan Confluence (Submitted by Connie Bonfy): Engaging residents who live just outside the revitalized downtown area through a mobile festival that explores technology, literacy, ecology and the arts.

Wichita Speak Ups! (submitted by Lisa D. Hines): Increasing civic engagement through daylong community pop-up forums designed to encourage people to participate in civic life.

Vote Like a Mother by Greater Wichita YMCA (submitted by Mim McKenzie): Increasing civic engagement with temporary interventions, such as free child care and social meetups, designed to make voting more accessible, convenient and fun.

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