Knight Foundation’s National Program strategy

By Paula Ellis, VP/Strategic Initiatives

Knight Foundation’s National portfolio fosters informed and engaged communities by discovering and spreading civic innovations, with the transformative goal of igniting active citizenship. This leads to more resilient communities, where residents have more control over their destinies.

We work in the eight “resident” Knight communities, but also in 18 “non-resident” communities through partnerships with their community foundations.

Informed and Engaged

Here’s a look at how the national portfolio advances full, active, participatory citizenship:

  • Tech for Engagement: Explore online tools for offline engagement, our Tech for Engagement initiative began in 2010 and is now hitting its stride. It supports projects that experiment with ways people can engage with each other and take action on issues that they care about.
  • Universal Broadband AccessKnight believes that no citizen should be left behind in having convenient access to the Internet.
  • Public Libraries: Knight believes public libraries are essential 21st century democratic institutions. Our funding of them focuses on access; digital skill development; content creation and engagement hubs.
  • Soul of the CommunityWe strengthen and leverage the passion and loyalty residents have to the place they live, and create environments in which engagement thrives. Three years of research by Gallup for Knight discovered that openness, social offerings, and aesthetics drive attachment to communities. Knight is developing the next phase of its Soul work now.
  • Change Leaders: Our investments identify and support transformational leaders.
  • Resident Engagement: Knight supports citizen-centered solutions that address community issues. Our focus is on new civic infrastructures and resident engagement in co-creating solutions and we encourage naturalization to strengthen attachment and the exercise of full citizenship.
  • Discovering, Importing and Spreading Innovation: The National Program scouts for civic innovations that help citizens build the muscles of engagement, help community institutions value and enable citizen engagement and encourage the emergence of new tools for engagement. 

Of the more than $50M approved, resident engagement and Tech for Engagement account for 28 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Knight is a national foundation with strong local roots. The National Program reflects that – we work with the program directors in the Knight communities to identify the best ideas nationwide, and then develop then in partnership with the communities. 

Knight’s direct presence in eight communities and indirect presence in 18 others is a major source of strength for the foundation’s national initiatives, and for the foundation itself.

By Paula Ellis, vice president/Strategic Initiatives at Knight Foundation