Knight Green Line Challenge names finalists

48 individuals and organizations selected as frontrunners in contest to benefit St. Paul’s Central Corridor neighborhoods

St. Paul, Minn. — (August 26, 2014) — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced 48 finalists in the Knight Green Line Challenge, a community-wide contest seeking projects to make St. Paul neighborhoods along the new Green Line more vibrant places to live, work, play and visit.

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48 projects advance in the Knight Green Line Challenge” — by Polly M. Talen on Knight Blog

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From an expanded open air night market in Little Mekong and Frogtown to a year-round community gardening effort, from a youth apprenticeship program in green transportation to an art exhibit of the faces and voices along the Green Line, the finalists proposed a range of ideas to benefit St. Paul neighborhoods. The 48 finalists were chosen from a pool of 579 applicants. Eleven community readers with diverse backgrounds participated in the selection process.

“Both the number and variety of applications we received in this first year of the challenge are a testament to the spirit and creativity of our community,” said Polly Talen, Knight Foundation program director for St. Paul. “The people of St. Paul are driven to making their city even more vibrant and the applications reflected this commitment.”

The list of finalists is below and at Winners will be announced in October.

Open to any individual, business or nonprofit, the Knight Green Line Challenge is a three-year, $1.5 million commitment from Knight Foundation to further advance community development in St. Paul’s Central Corridor. Proposed projects must simply take place in and benefit at least one of six St. Paul neighborhoods along the Green Line: Downtown St. Paul, Frogtown/Thomas-Dale, Hamline Midway, St. Anthony Park, Summit-University or Union Park. The Saint Paul Foundation is administering the challenge.

The Knight Green Line Challenge, announced in May, is Knight Foundation’s newest effort to invest in the success of St. Paul. Knight has provided $64 million in support to the St. Paul community since 1977. The Green Line Challenge builds on Knight’s leadership in co-founding the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, an initiative that brings together diverse groups across sectors to build opportunity and benefit communities along the new light rail line. In January 2014 Knight also announced major new funding for the arts in St. Paul, including an expansion of the Knight Arts Challenge.

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.

About the Saint Paul Foundation
Since 1940, thousands of generous individuals committed to the Saint Paul area have made charitable gifts to The Saint Paul Foundation. Today, the Foundation is the state’s largest community foundation. Guided by the legacy of its earliest donors, the Foundation helps donors achieve their charitable giving goals and have long-lasting impact in the community. The Foundation is an affiliate of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. Learn more at and

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Knight Green Line Challenge Finalists 2014

Better Bridges for Stronger Communities (Friendly Streets Initiative)
To transform the bridges over and under I-94 through creative installations and public space improvements and by engaging the community in the city’s redesign efforts

Big Daddy’s BBQ Outdoor Community Space (Big Daddy’s BBQ)
To bring back a neighborhood gathering spot with outdoor barbecue facilities and family music events at the corner of University and Dale

Borrow the Internet (Saint Paul Public Library)
To increase Internet access in neighborhoods adjacent to the Green Line by loaning out Wi-Fi hotspots through Rondo and Merriam Park Libraries

Claiming the Corridor: Artists Help Communities Turn Ad Space Into Storytelling Art (Forecast Public Art)
To capture the spirit of neighborhoods along the Green Line in images and words through a series of unique, site-specific artwork using outdoor advertising venues

Community Real Estate Investment Cooperative (Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation)
To give community members a way to participate in cooperative ownership of the mixed-use construction and historic renovation of Western U Plaza (formerly Old Home Dairy)

Cultivating the Green Line (Stone’s Throw Urban Farm)
To transform 625 Dale Street in the Frogtown neighborhood into an anchor farm with a year-round greenhouse, two hoop houses and pedestrian-friendly gathering spaces

Daily Bread Food Services Training Program (Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities)
To train at-risk, formerly addicted people in basic culinary arts, restaurant management and hospitality at the Frogtown Daily Diner

Demera Restaurant/Ray-Bell Films Building 100th Anniversary Façade Rehabilitation Project (Historic St. Paul)
To restore the historic, distinctive features of the building’s façade, improving the University Avenue streetscape along the block between Avon and Victoria

Digital Skills for Lifelong Learning (Minnesota Literacy Council)
To reduce barriers to employment, promote higher earnings and increase community connections for immigrant and refugee adults in Central Corridor neighborhoods through increased access to computer classes

Diversifying Neighborhood Organization Boards to Increase Effectiveness
(Board Repair, St. Paul District Councils)
To diversify the membership of St. Paul’s District Councils by developing new leaders of color through a partnership with Board Repair

Faces/Spaces/Places (Nick Coleman, Caroline Yang)
To reveal and portray the rich tapestry of life and culture along the Green Line through a collaboration between photo-journalist Caroline Yang and multi-media journalist Nick Coleman

Frogtown Monarch Maze and Native Gardens (Local Roots Landscapers)
To turn a vacant lot in Frogtown into a haven for birds, butterflies, native bees and people with a maze of paths, bird-and butterfly-friendly perennials and gathering and play spaces

Frogtown Website Construction Company (Digital Empowerment Academy and the Twin Cities Media Alliance)
To teach Frogtown youth the digital skills necessary to compete in today’s marketplace through a training program serving small businesses in the area

Green Line Arts (Andrea Reynolds)
To transform vacant space along the Green Line into a cooperative space for emerging artists to work, rehearse, perform and exhibit

Green Line Signs (Nice City)
To increase visibility of small businesses and add beauty along the Green Line through unique, handmade signage

Greenway to Green Line (Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation)
To develop a plan to connect the Greenway to the Green Line, giving neighborhood residents safe and ready access to LRT stations

Heritage Conservation on the Green Line, Phase 2 (Historic St. Paul)
To promote and facilitate the preservation and reuse of historic buildings all along University Avenue by leveraging economic development opportunities and the use of the state historic tax credit

History on the Green Line – A Play Festival Sharing the Neighborhood Stories of the Green Line (History Theatre)
To commission and produce plays from each neighborhood along the Green Line, highlighting the impact of the line and connecting past to present

Hmong History Center and Library (Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota)
To create a permanent, comprehensive interpretative experience of Hmong people as part of the Hmong Cultural Center in Frogtown

Johnny Baby’s Parklets (Johnny Baby’s)
To create parklets adjacent to Johnny Baby’s neighborhood bar that would serve as gathering spaces for residents, bicyclists and Green Line riders

Little Mekong Plaza (Asian Economic Development Association, Hmong American Partnership and Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation)
To transform an unusable building in the heart of the Little Mekong District into a cultural plaza that promotes community connection, healthy lifestyles and economic investment

Little Mekong Social Enterprise Partnership (Asian Economic Development Association, RedGreen Rivers LLC, restaurateur Mey Chau, artists Evelyn Moucheupao and Thao Vang)
To build a hybrid social enterprise that brings together creation and retail space for artists and a café reflecting the neighborhood

Making Green Transportation the Easy Choice (Transit for Livable Communities)
To encourage new developments along the Green Line to foster use of transit, biking, walking and sharing options through creation of a best practices manual for neighborhoods, developers and nonprofits

More Jazz on Selby (Selby Avenue Action Coalition c/o Rondo Community Land Trust)
To create a strong African American cultural corridor along Selby Avenue by encouraging and hosting events that celebrate all of the arts, especially jazz music

MYA Cafe (TM) (Mentoring Young Adults)
To create a gathering space where under-engaged youth facing social and economic disparities have access to resources, especially after hours when other safe places are closed

No Litter Bugs (Stephanie Stoessel, member of Summit-University Planning Council)
To improve the streetscape and encourage residents to use trash receptacles by featuring children’s artwork on receptacles placed along University from Western to Victoria

OMG Transit (OMG Transit LLC)
To make transit information more accessible through an app that provides real-time information about the Green Line, car2go, NiceRide bikes and buses

On the Town – A Social Skills Opportunity for Individuals Ages 14-26 with Autism (Autism Society of Minnesota)
To encourage teens and young adults with autism to ride the Green Line by providing first-hand experiences with public transportation and activities along the corridor

Pizza Picnics at the Farm (Frogtown Farm)
To build bridges among diverse community members through creation of a temporary brick pizza oven where participants can gather to envision and co-create a community farm

Placemaking Banners along the Green Line (Midway Chamber of Commerce)
To create a sense of place and destination by placing banners on light poles along University Avenue in all of the St. Paul Green Line neighborhoods

Rain Gardens – Taking Care of Our Rivers (Merriam Station Community Garden)
To build five rain gardens near the Merriam LRT station to protect the Mississippi River from runoff pollution

Rejuvenate East 4th Street (Greater Saint Paul Building Owners & Managers Association)
To transform East 4th Street from automobile traffic to a bike and pedestrian oriented pathway, increasing foot traffic in downtown and Lowertown

Rondo Community Television’s Green Line Positive Media Initiative (Broadcast Factory/Rondo TV)
To highlight small businesses, food, cultural and educational activities along the Green Line through a new magazine-style television series

Rondo Renaissance: A Re-birth of St. Paul’s African American Arts, Cultural Heritage and Business District (JUST Equity)
To restore Rondo’s economic engine through development of a Historic Rondo Revitalization Plan that employs the community’s art, history and culture as revitalizing assets

Saint Paul Night Market (Asian Economic Development Association)
To bring excitement and commerce to University Avenue through an expanded open air street market of food, arts and entertainment in Little Mekong and Frogtown

Scout Troop 96 Biz Network and Incubator (Scout Troop 96)
To help develop a critical mass of youth entrepreneurs in St. Paul, especially in minority and immigrant communities, through the Rondo Business Incubator, a hub providing resources, education and mentoring

Seniors Exploring Locally by Light Rail (Neighborhood Network for Seniors)
To increase ridership of the Green Line by seniors through outreach, training and encouragement that focuses on reducing barriers and promoting benefits

Soul Sounds Open Mic (TruArt Speaks)
To ensure the continuation of Soul Sounds Open Mic, a weekly event at Golden Thyme Café dedicated to ethnic inclusion and healing through art and storytelling

Sustainable Spaces (Model Cities, Forecast Public Art, University of Minnesota’s African & African American Studies Department, Minnesota Historical Society)
To strengthen the cultural vibrancy of the community through incorporation of pocket parks, urban gardens, and a reading room along University Avenue

The Faces and Voices of the Green Line Public Art Project (Minnesota Museum of American Art)
To promote a deeper understanding, through photographs and stories, of the experiences of individuals who ride or are impacted by the Green Line

The Four Seasons Public Art Wayfinding Project (Nathan Kellar-Long)
To create wayfinding art in the Union Park neighborhood to lead people from the Fairview LRT station through the Iris Park neighborhood to Four Seasons Elementary and Merriam Park

The Rondo Commemorative Plaza (Rondo Avenue, Inc.)
To remember, through interactive historical displays, the history of an African-American community torn apart by the construction of I-94

University Avenue Clean Team (Ally People Solutions)
To ensure an attractive, safe and green University Avenue and to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities by increasing The Clean Team to daily crews

Urban Farm and Garden Alliance (Aurora St. Anthony Peace Sanctuary Garden, Lexington Commons, Pilgrim’s Community Garden, Morning Star Church Garden, Victoria Community Garden, and the Greenhouse Garden)
To empower community residents to grow food and increase connections through expansion of engagement and outreach programming and resources

Victoria Theater Arts Initiative (Victoria Theater Arts Initiative)
To design and implement a community-driven process for transforming the long-vacant theater at 825 University Avenue into a neighborhood center for the visual and performing arts

Wayfinding to and from Green Line Neighborhoods (East Metro Strong)
To promote ridership and engagement with nearby communities by developing kiosks that would point to and from Green Line neighborhoods

Youth Apprenticeship Program (Cycles for Change)
To expand Cycles for Change’s Youth Apprenticeship Program to grow a youth-led movement around healthy living and environmentally friendly transportation

ZAP Twin Cities Neighborhood Expansion (St. Paul Smart Trips)
To encourage more people to bike by outfitting bikes with RFID tags that generate incentives and rewards for riders


Kathy Graves, Parenteau Graves, 612-242-3184, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]