Over the past year, Knight Foundation sought to assess the progress of our efforts in nine Knight cities where our focus has been on revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods.
We commissioned HR&A, an urban development consulting firm, to interview local leaders and organizations and analyze data to assess our progress. The report is available to read here.
As you review the report, it’s important to note a few things:
Knight Foundation values learning
We are social investors. That means we fund ideas, leaders and organizations in order to see a return in the success of our communities. Just like the best financial investors, we must understand the impact of our investments, in order to learn and improve what we do over time.
Outside perspectives are critical to learning
We recognize the value of being evaluated by a third party. When you’ve been working on something for a while, it’s hard to objectively judge what worked and didn’t. In order to be effective, we have to seek out independent assessment and proactively engage with grantees and community members, to validate the outcomes of our investments in an empirical, data-driven way. To that end, we commission independent researchers in order to help us identify and raise important questions that help us better partner on successful strategies in our communities.
Assessments capture a moment in time
Change happens over time. We began this assessment in the fall of 2022, with most of the interviews and primary research completed by the end of that same year. Some of the data that is available from national sources which is only available as recently as 2020 or 2022, and is also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, interviews and data capture what was happening at that time. Communities are dynamic ecosystems. While trends are long-term and important to consider, in each community by default, things have already changed. Nonetheless, it is important to capture the information we can, so we reflect upon it and learn.
Lastly, effective research engages and spurs discussion. Locally and nationally, we look forward to discussing the insights in the report with you.