Knight Cities Challenge opens Oct. 1 seeking the best ideas for cities

Imagine if you won funding for your best idea to make your city more successful. Imagine social media buzzing with daily mentions of your project and your work being celebrated in the press. Then, imagine City Hall deciding your idea works so well that it will change the way the city does business.

Want to learn more about the Knight Cities Challenge?  

Knight’s Carol Coletta will be hosting a reddit Ask Me Anything chat on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. ET. To join, go to reddit IAmA and click on the thread titled “I’m Carol Coletta, VP for Community and National Initiatives at Knight Foundation. AMA about how to make cities more successful, the Knight Cities Challenge, the Foundation and everything else.”

That’s what happened to Ben Bryant, one of 32 winners of the inaugural Knight Cities Challenge. Ben’s brainstorm, the Pop-Up Pool Project in Philadelphia, became an instant hit when it launched this summer.

Now, you have an opportunity to win support for your idea as Knight Foundation launches the second round of the Knight Cities Challenge. We’ll award $5 million to fund new ideas to make the 26 Knight communities more successful by advancing talent, opportunity and engagement. The challenge will be open for applications from Oct. 1-Oct. 27 at, and we’ll announce winners early next year.

Why talent?  Because the percentage of college-educated graduates in any city’s population is the best predictor of economic success.

Why opportunity? Because without the ability to improve your circumstances, the American dream is dead.

Why engagement? Because the future of cities can’t be determined from the top down. It is determined by thousands of people taking small actions every day based on what they believe about the future and their role in it.

Applying to the challenge is easy. The initial application asks you to answer three primary questions about your project and your team. Even better, your answers are limited to 100 words.

To learn more about the Knight Cities Challenge, you can join us at events in your community, participate in a Reddit conversation with me on Oct. 2 from 7-9 p.m., or join us for virtual office hours. Our listing of events is here; check back for updates as we finalize the schedule. Follow @knightfdn and #knightcities on Twitter to stay up to date. Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

The challenge is one important piece of our commitment to the success of the 26 Knight communities. It’s designed as “risk capital” to test new ideas and surface new civic innovators.  (Note, too, it is not intended to provide ongoing support for work underway.) Although anyone from anywhere may apply, your project must take place in a Knight community.

Join the movement of civic innovators working to make America’s cities more successful and get ready to submit your ideas beginning Oct. 1 at

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