Knight Foundation announces $1 million in new fellowships to support innovative use of public spaces to transform communities – Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation announces $1 million in new fellowships to support innovative use of public spaces to transform communities

Seeking leading civic innovators for Knight Public Spaces Fellowship by March 22

Feb. 21, 2019—Knight Foundation is inviting nominations for the inaugural Knight Public Spaces Fellowship, intended to recognize leading civic innovators who have created or influenced great public spaces that have transformed communities across America. A small group of selected fellows will share up to $1 million in grants to continue their work.

Knight believes that great public spaces can transform cities. They are where everyone can come together — to meet, play and discuss community issues. They foster civic life, drawing people out of their homes and into the community, while encouraging neighbors to be together and interact. 

The first-of-its-kind Knight Public Spaces Fellowship will recognize talented leaders who have an exemplary track record of crafting public spaces — trails, parks, plazas and streets — that create opportunities for connection and civic engagement. From Feb. 21 to March 22, we are inviting people to nominate their candidate of choice. Individuals can also nominate themselves.  

“We’ve seen firsthand how talented leaders can reshape a community through great public spaces. This award will recognize great leaders and support them in changing how we think about, use and participate in shaping public spaces,” said Sam Gill, Knight’s vice president for communities and impact. 

Fellows will be drawn from around the country and diverse sectors, including innovators with experience in urban design, planning, architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, government, technology, programming and policy. Nominees must be extraordinary leaders who transform the way we think about and use public spaces in the communities where we live, creating more opportunities for connection and civic engagement. Key attributes include:

  1. A track record of exceptional public space work with proven results.
  2. A demonstrated commitment to the value of public spaces in advancing civic engagement and building stronger communities.
  3. The potential to make significant new contributions to the use of public space in community.

In addition to the opportunity to create real impact in their city and beyond, fellows will receive: 

  • Support: Substantial, flexible resources to pursue transformative work in public spaces and advance the field.
  • Network-building opportunities: Support to work directly with peers and other experts who are passionate about using public space to transform communities. 
  • Mentorship: Insight and guidance from experts to refine ideas and new thinking around public space work.  
  • Public exposure: Fellows will be invited to present at Knight-supported events and other gatherings and given opportunities to publish and share their work.

Fellows will be selected by Knight in collaboration with experts and leaders in the field and announced in June 2019. The number of fellows will be determined during the review process, but the Knight Public Spaces Fellowship is meant to recognize the very top practitioners. The small group of selected fellows will share in a total award pool of up to $1 million in grants which can be used for innovative, flexible projects, distributed over approximately two years.   

If you have questions about the application, you can join us for an informational webinar to learn more about the fellowship on March 5 at 3 p.m. ET. Please RSVP to attend here, and we’ll send you more details.

To learn more visit: Follow #knightcities on Twitter for updates.

Knight Foundation supports informed and engaged communities by investing in cities to attract and nurture talent, promote economic opportunity and foster civic engagement. We believe that public spaces are a key ingredient in connecting people to each other and the places where they live. The foundation has made several investments in this area including the national Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, that seeks to bring people together by revitalizing and connecting public spaces.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more visit,


Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]