Reviving urban innovation: Knight Emerging City Champions Program 2024 – Knight Foundation
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Reviving urban innovation: Knight Emerging City Champions Program 2024

We’re thrilled to share some exciting news for young civic innovators across the United States! The Knight Emerging City Champions (KECC) program is making a comeback after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With applications opening on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, this program is set to support 20 young, diverse leaders annually in eight Knight resident cities, empowering them to drive urban transformation projects within their communities.

VP/Community and National Initiatives

The KECC program, powered by 8 80 Cities and funded by Knight Foundation, aims to elevate fresh voices in city building, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. Targeting individuals aged 18–35, the program seeks innovative solutions to revitalize downtown areas, enhance public spaces, and foster economic opportunities.

Selected applicants will receive a $5,000 seed fund along with a $500 tech grant to kickstart their community projects. In addition, the program begins with a trip to Toronto, Canada that will offer Champions the training and tools they need to implement their community initiatives effectively. This hybrid program offers a blend of virtual and in-person learning, ensuring ongoing mentorship and peer support throughout the journey.

The impact of the KECC program over the years has been profound, catalyzing over 100 public space and civic engagement projects across the nation. From beehives to jukeboxes, mentorship programs to art projects, block parties to shared meals, past initiatives have sparked meaningful change, demonstrating the power of grassroots placemaking.

One success story is Rachel Umana of Bike Walk Macon, Georgia, whose project gained significant philanthropic and public support, paving the way for further initiatives and organizational leadership. The program’s alumni network continues to thrive, offering valuable connections and opportunities for collaboration.

In this new iteration, we are proud to welcome Helpful Places as a technology partner and mentor, further enhancing our ability to harness the power of technology in transparent, inclusive, and participatory ways.

Applications are open to residents aged 18-35 from Knight Foundation’s resident communities, including Akron, Charlotte, Detroit, Macon, Miami, Philadelphia, San Jose, and St. Paul. If you’re a social entrepreneur, educator, technologist, tactical urbanist, designer, or anyone with a passion for community-driven change, we encourage you to seize this opportunity to make a difference.

Apply and join us in shaping the future of our cities! Please visit Emerging City Champions to learn more and submit your application before the deadline on May 27th, 2024, 11:59 pm EDT (8:59 pm PST).

Together, let’s ignite innovation and build vibrant, inclusive communities for all.