Place Make the Vote 2016, a Knight Cities Challenge winning project.

The Knight Cities Challenge was an initiative to surface new ideas to advance the success of the cities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. From 2014-2017 the challenge awarded nearly $15 million to 99 winners. Although many projects are just getting underway, we’ve already been able to glean many lessons from the ideas and innovators that it surfaced, which will help to shape Knight’s work in communities into the future.

The winners represent a huge variety of projects from musical swings in public spaces to simultaneous shared meals in hundreds of homes, from new zoning overlays to pop-up bike lanes. They are united in that they are all pursuing innovative projects that take them outside their comfort zones in the quest for successful cities.

What can we learn from them? What are the lessons for practitioners that we can take from the winning projects?

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  • Article

    At Knight Media Forum, the focus is strengthening local news and communities

    February 15, 2018 by Marika Lynch

    At Knight Media Forum, the focus is strengthening local news and communities

    At a time when trust in media, and institutions in general, is dangerously low, how can news organizations work to rebuild it? What effect does the trend have on people’s engagement in solving local issues? 

    Starting Tuesday morning Feb. 20, the Knight Media Forum will tackle these topics and more, as it gathers leaders in philanthropy, media and technology to look at ways to strengthen both local news and communities. The event will be streamed online, and features a range of speakers including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who recently piloted the news service WikiTribune, and former CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer, who will address how our society can navigate the information overload that surrounds us.

  • Article

    Public spaces are at the center of city-building

    January 9, 2018 by Lisa King

    Public spaces are at the center of city-building

    Lisa King is executive director for Summit Metro Parks in Akron, Ohio. Knight Foundation recently announced new funding to Summit Metro Parks, focused on connecting Akron’s downtown revival to neighborhoods across the city. 

  • Article

    Streets for people: Using Pokémon GO to power civic engagement

    January 8, 2018 by Charlotte Castle

    Streets for people: Using Pokémon GO to power civic engagement

    Photos by Samantha Madera, courtesy of City of Philadelphia.

    Charlotte Castle is the Vision Zero and neighborhood programs coordinator for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems (OTIS). Below she writes about an October 2017 initiative launched by Knight Foundation and Niantic, the creators of Pokémon GO, to explore how technology can foster community engagement in several cities where Knight invests.

  • Article

    Unlocking urban resiliency by building a collaborative commons

    December 12, 2017 by Ric Herrero

    Unlocking urban resiliency by building a collaborative commons

    Maker Faire Miami 2017.

    Ric Herrero is co-founder and president of MANO, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a sustainable maker culture in the Greater Miami area. Knight Foundation has supported the evolution of MANO’s work in Miami and recently made an additional funding commitment to the organization.

  • Article

    The importance of sustained civic engagement in driving urban transformation

    December 7, 2017 by George Abbott

    The importance of sustained civic engagement in driving urban transformation

    Denver's Union Station spurred private development of more than 2.37 million square feet of commercial space in its surrounding area, including housing, hotels and many other amenities. Photos by Smart Growth America.

    Recently, I was lucky to join leaders from five Knight cities touring Denver, Colorado and Greenville, South Carolina with Smart Growth America’s Amazing Place Ideas Forum. Knight Foundation funded the Ideas Forum to demonstrate how smart investments in place can serve as an engine to attract and retain talent and drive economic development in cities.

  • Article

    Philadelphia: Creating authentic connections through place

    November 6, 2017 by Patrick J. Morgan

    Philadelphia: Creating authentic connections through place

    Photo by Fairmount Park on Twitter.

    Saturday, Knight Foundation announced $3.28 million in new support to Fairmount Conservancy to support a citywide civic engagement strategy that will allow residents to shape activities in Philadelphia’s public spaces.

    It’s an essential time for communities to invest in places and spaces that bring us together. A neighborhood public library, park or recreation center are often the places where strangers come together, where we learn about each other, and where neighbors and local decision-makers meet to create a better community. Recent research by the Center for Active Design validates that public spaces can help to facilitate community connection, trust and involvement.

  • Article

    Helping immigrants become engaged citizens through the New Americans Campaign

    October 17, 2017 by George Abbott

    Helping immigrants become engaged citizens through the New Americans Campaign

    Photo by City of Bellevue Washington on Flickr.

    Today, Knight is announcing $1.5 million in support to the New Americans Campaign. Knight was a founding funder of the campaign, a national collaborative that equips local organizations with the knowledge and resources they need to help lawful permanent residents become U.S. citizens.

  • Article

    Teach for America program helps build a diverse innovation ecosystem in Miami

    October 17, 2017 by Corey White

    Teach for America program helps build a diverse innovation ecosystem in Miami

    The Teach for America Startup Summer program in Miami visits Knight Foundation in July 2017. Photo courtesy of Chris Caines.

    Corey White is the manager of alumni leadership development at Teach For America Miami-Dade. Below he writes about the Knight-supported Teach for America Startup Summer program, which provides young people with essential entrepreneurship skills.  

  • Article

    Powering civic engagement at the Free Library of Philadelphia using Pokémon Go

    October 16, 2017 by Joel A. Nichols

    Powering civic engagement at the Free Library of Philadelphia using Pokémon Go

    Photos courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

    Joel A. Nichols is a library administrator for data strategy and evaluation at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Below he writes about a May 2017 initiative launched by Knight Foundation and Niantic, the creators of Pokémon GO, to explore how technology can foster community engagement in several cities where Knight invests.

  • Article

    Searching for inspiration in Copenhagen

    October 4, 2017 by Rossana Tudo

    Searching for inspiration in Copenhagen

    This article is cross-posted with permission from 880cities

    Civic leaders from Knight cities around the United States gather in Copenhagen for a five-day study tour to see what they can learn about how to create safer, happier and healthier cities for all people.

  • Article

    Miami: Building community through innovation

    September 7, 2017 by Chris Caines

    Miami: Building community through innovation

    Photo by Matthew Paulson on Flickr

    Today, Knight is announcing $590,000 in support to three projects that will foster community among entrepreneurs and tech innovators while advancing Miami as a diverse and inclusive innovation hub.

    Over the past five years, Knight Foundation has invested more than $28 million to support Miami’s entrepreneurs, startups and doers of all kinds. This funding has been used by organizations to make Miami a city where ideas can be built and scaled. Among Knight’s investments are events and spaces for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect, such as The LAB Miami and Black Tech Week; talent development including The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Launchcode; and opportunities to expand access to high-level mentors and capital, such as Endeavor Miami and Accelerated Growth Partners.

  • Article

    4 Local funders will use design thinking to fill local news gaps

    August 29, 2017 by Lilly Weinberg

    4 Local funders will use design thinking to fill local news gaps

    Sam Gill, from Knight Foundation, facilitates a breakout session called Community Indicators during the Knight Foundation's Media Learning Seminar 2017 held at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel.

    We live in a time of disruption for local news and information. Local media continues to shrink, trust in journalistic institutions is at an all-time low, and people can’t even agree on what constitutes a fact.  It’s a difficult time to navigate, especially if you believe like we do that good, accurate and contextual information is essential to strong communities and a healthy democracy. Local news and information is particularly important to our lives. How else can you learn about your children’s school system or the pollutants in your neighborhood lake?  

  • Article

    Building a more informed Detroit

    August 20, 2017 by Anika Goss-Foster

    Building a more informed Detroit

    Private sector employment density, from the 139 Square Miles report released by Detroit Future City.

    Anika Goss-Foster is the executive director of Detroit Future Citya nonprofit dedicated to implementing a 50-year strategic vision for the city of Detroit. Below she writes about the organization’s 139 Square Miles report, released today

  • Article

    Building bridges between a city and its university with help from Pokémon GO

    August 16, 2017 by Bronlynn Thurman

    Building bridges between a city and its university with help from Pokémon GO

    Pokémon Go Trainers at Yoyogi Park. Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr.

    In May 2017, Knight Foundation and Niantic, the creators of PokémonGO, developed a partnership to see how technology can foster community engagement in several cities where Knight invests. Read on to learn more about how Akron hopes to utilize this partnership to better connect university students to the city.

  • Article

    The Wynwood Yard: Illuminating the Magic of Miami 

    August 2, 2017 by Della Heiman

    The Wynwood Yard: Illuminating the Magic of Miami 

    Photos courtesy of The Wynwood Yard.

    Della Heiman is founder of The Wynwood Yard, an outdoor gathering space, culinary incubator, and community hub for culture, food and entrepreneurship. Below, she shares the story of how, in less than two years, The Yard has created a platform for entrepreneurs to shine in the Magic City. The Wynwood Yard is receiving $100,000 in new support from Knight Foundation.