Tips, insights and answers to your questions on applying for the Knight Prototype Fund open call on accurate information

Journalism / Article

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. 

How do I apply?

The application consists of six short questions. Apply here by 5 p.m. ET, Monday. April 3.

Is my application private?

Yes. Only Knight Foundation staff and the judges assisting with the review process will see your application. 

What kinds of projects are you looking for?

We’re looking for projects from anyone–technologists, journalists, designers, teachers, researchers and others who are eager to develop ideas to help ensure all people have access to accurate information. We understand issues of trust and misinformation are nuanced and complicated, and we are looking for ideas and collaborations that can help bring new voices and vision to these debates. 

These could be technology projects, or ideas to improve the process of how news is collected and disseminated. At its core, your project should have a clear, testable hypothesis. 

What’s ineligible for funding?

We don’t fund:

  • Content-only projects. We’re not seeking purely content-driven applications, such as an investigative journalism series looking into the cause of fake news. We recognize that there will be a content component to many applications, but that should not be the dominant element in the submission. 

  • International projects. It’s fine to have a distributed team, but the project should be implemented in the U.S.

  • Proprietary technology. We’re philanthropic funders, so we look for ideas that can be shared broadly. Although we may fund projects from for-profit organizations, we will not consider ideas that solely benefit an individual or a single company. 

After I apply, what’s the process for selecting winners?

After April 3, we’ll send the applications to a team of reviewers who will help us determine which projects advance to the semifinalist round. By late April, we will notify you whether your project advances to the next round. We will schedule phone interviews with the organizers for any projects that make it to the semifinalist round. Semifinalists will undergo another round of review, and we will notify winners in late May.

What kinds of organizations do you fund? 

We can fund ideas from a variety of organizations, which includes nonprofits, for-profits, universities and individuals. 

Have any tips for applicants?

We look for ideas that have a clear understanding of the problem, and the key people or groups affected by it. In addition to that, we look for strong teams with the background and experience necessary to implement the project. Finally, a strong application is clear, concise, and free of jargon; you even have the option to add visuals. Communicating your ideas in a  simple, straightforward way will help the reviewers enormously. 

May I submit more than one application?

Yes, we will review each project independently, so you can submit as many ideas as you like. 

Eva Pereira is a technology innovation associate at Knight Foundation. Email her via [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @EvaNPereira.