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    Over the last two years, Knight Foundation has funded 36 library innovation projects through two Knight News Challenges. As we closed our review of entries last spring in Miami, the library leaders in the room voiced a desire to learn more about what innovation means in a library context. It seemed like a good idea to us, too, so we took on the task. Today, we’re introducing some of the results of that work and our efforts to strengthen the capacity of public libraries to meet digital age demands.
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    Knight Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation and Democracy Fund are committing $1 million in support of ideas to combat misinformation on the web and restore trust in quality journalism. Applicants are asked to respond to the question, How might we improve the flow of accurate information? Winners will receive grants of up to $50,000. The goal is to test a set of early-stage projects to see which ideas have the most traction. Knight will support the cohort through workshops, conferences and regular check-ins. The open call closes at 5 p.m. ET on April 3. Click here to apply. As the applications roll in, here are some of the questions that have come up. 
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    Matt Stempeck is director of civic technology for Microsoft. Below, he writes about the Knight Prototype Fund open call for ideas to address the spread of misinformation and to build trust in journalism. The open call, launched by Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation, asks, How might we improve the flow of accurate information? Winners will share in up to $1 million, with an average award size of about $50,000. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. ET April 3, 2017. The online media ecosystem is a more complicated place than it was even a few years ago. The design language and distribution networks of online news have been co-opted by state-backed propagandists aiming to exert political influence as well as independent media hackers seeking to make a profit. The wild tales once peddled through chain emails are breaking through into more and more people’s social media feeds, leveraging tech companies’ content distribution systems and exploiting programmatic advertising. Their impact on the U.S. presidential election have made fact-checking, information flows and media trust into household conversations. This widespread interest is a welcome development. The success of democracy depends on the participation of an informed public, and we can’t ignore how the corrosive effects of such abuses can undermine it.Knight Foundation has been an early and active supporter of projects to enhance fact-checking with new technologies. This time, along with the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation, they are funding an open call for early-stage ideas to improve the flow of accurate information through the Knight Prototype Fund. As you consider whether to apply (you should), it’s worth considering what we’ve learned to date from fact-checking technology projects.
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    Seth Flaxman is co-founder and executive director of Democracy Works. Today, Knight Foundation is announcing $2.5 million in new support for the organization. I am a bit biased. Democracy Works would not exist without Knight Foundation taking a bet on us in 2012, but I believe that its continued support for our work at this moment in history will directly strengthen democracy. We’ve committed to raising an additional $2.2 million to match Knight's funding; signaling the need for more organizations, more companies, more foundations, and more people to get behind this goal.Yet, the big lesson I want to underline a thousand times with this new announcement is the way Knight has embraced the full strategy of our organization, not just a specific project or program. We’re not a traditional nonprofit organization, and our work often doesn’t fit neatly into any clearly defined program bucket.The mission of Democracy Works is to modernize voting for the way we live now. Our vision is to become the digital connective tissue for a 21st century American democracy. We want to connect citizens to the atomic unit of a democracy: their vote. We don’t simply aim to help someone participate in a particular election; we want them to become a voter who sees participation in every election as core to their personal identity.
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    Tiana Epps-Johnson is executive director of the Center for Technology and Civic Life. Today, Knight Foundation is announcing $508,000 in new support for the center to train municipal officials to use digital tools for community outreach and election planning. Navigating the voting process can be cumbersome and opaque. Problems such as long lines at polling places, confusing ballot instructions and inadequate public information about the voting process have contributed to devastating declines in civic participation.We founded the Center for Technology and Civic Life two years ago because we saw an opportunity to make voting easier for millions of Americans.
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    The internet is a wild place, and the way we receive and process news is complicated. As our reliance on digital platforms grows, we are swimming in misinformation and kept separate by social media algorithms that push us to talk to people with whom we already agree. Four out of 5 of us don’t trust the media. And local news—which tell us what’s going on around us—is in trouble with a lack of solid financial models.At Knight Foundation, we’re driven by the belief that informed citizens are the key to a healthy democracy. Today we, along with Democracy Fund and Rita Allen Foundation, are launching an open call for ideas answering the question: How might we improve the flow of accurate information?
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    When we launched the Prototype Fund in 2012 our goal was to help innovators push media, journalism and civic information projects forward by giving them an avenue to build fast, fail forward and learn quickly. The initiative recognized that the speed of innovation, coupled with the low-cost of experimentation opened an opportunity for innovators to test, iterate and change direction before building out a project. This type of nimble, early-stage risk investment was new for Knight Foundation and new for philanthropy. We are relaunching the fund this month, with some changes based on what we have learned over the last five years. Most notably, future calls for ideas will focus on specific topics, a move from broad experimentation to targeted issues in the fields where Knight Foundation works.
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    SXSW, one of the world’s largest gatherings of techies, journalists, educators, filmmakers, interactive media producers and musicians kicks off Friday, March 10. Thousands of attendees who descend on Austin, Texas, are prepping their schedules for must-see panels, performances and demos.   Knight Foundation’s Journalism, Technology Innovation and Community and National Initiatives programs will take part in discussions around Austin over the next week. Check out these events to connect with Knight and our partner network at SXSW Interactive.
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    Social change is messy and complicated, and it can take a long time to come to fruition, typically by way of a winding, sometimes meandering, path. Such a context requires patience, comfort with complexity, and the humility to recognize that bets are just that—guesses about what might work over time.Certainly, monitoring and evaluation have an important place in assessing the strength of investments over time as well as the yield (or unanticipated consequences) of past efforts. What is often missing, however, is sufficient clarity about the problem or challenge a bet is intended to address.At Knight Foundation, we are beginning to use the term learning organization to describe not simply the rote mechanics of surfacing insights from past and present work, but to also encompass the ability and judgment to identify addressable challenges, formulate smart bets, and then rigorously interrogate and scrutinize those bets and the contours of the problems they are meant to attack.