Knight Prototype Fund will take 17 new projects from idea to demo

Next Prototype Fund application deadline is May 1

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17 projects receive funding through Knight Prototype Fund” by Chris Barr on Knight Blog

MIAMI  — (April 22, 2014) — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced funding for 17 new projects through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps people explore early-stage media and information ideas with $35,000 in funding.

Several of the projects offer tools for journalists and publishers, emphasizing news delivery that focuses on audience needs and preferences. They also include open-government tools, from a database that allows people to search transcripts of North Carolina legislative sessions, to a youth-led project that helps juvenile offenders better navigate the legal system. Some of the projects further focus on open information centering on topics from disaster relief to health care costs.

Knight launched the Prototype Fund in June 2012 to invite people to experiment, learn and iterate before moving on to the more costly stage of building out a project. Prototype Fund projects go through a six-month prototyping period that begins with a three-day course in human-centered design, facilitated by LUMA Institute. Using this design training as a basis to build out their ideas, teams come together after six months for a Knight-hosted Demo Day to share their discoveries and prototypes. The next deadline for prototype applications is May 1, 2014.

“Tackling community information challenges requires constant innovation and a multitude of tools, along with an avenue to test and improve potential solutions,” said Chris Barr, who leads the Knight Prototype Fund, an initiative of the foundation’s Journalism and Media Innovation program. “The Prototype Fund offers just that by supporting great ideas in their early stages and allowing people to reshape their premise according to new discoveries and user needs.”

The projects receiving investments in this Prototype Fund round are:

Capitol Hound: Offering the public a searchable database of the transcripts of North Carolina legislative sessions, including an audio archive and alert system for General Assembly sessions and committee meetings. Producing a youth-developed mobile app designed to help juvenile offenders navigate complex government and legal processes and work toward expunging their records.

GovLoop Academy: Developing an online education site for federal, state and local government employees that will feature free, short training content: webinars, videos and podcasts.

LibraryBox: Improving a device that provides access to digital information in areas with poor or no Internet connectivity.

Louder: Testing the use of a crowdfunded advertising platform that allows users to donate small amounts to spread news and information that is important to them.

Minezy: Creating a tool to help journalists more easily find information in email archives received through Freedom of Information Act requests by analyzing data and highlighting important social relationships, dates and topics.

MLRun: Helping journalists create deeper stories through a user-friendly Web platform that helps analyze large data sets by discovering patterns in documents.

News On Demand: Increasing the “quality time” people spend with news by building a system that provides news based on a reader’s available time and attention level.

Open Data Philly: Improving government transparency and citizen engagement by expanding, which provides access to data related to the Philadelphia region.

PressSecure: Making it easier for citizen journalists to share and preserve media through a mobile app that unites the efforts of public-interest archives, mobile security experts and free press advocates.

Project Fission: Creating a newsroom tool that allows journalists to collect and explore small units of information that can be pulled together to create new story formats. Tracking the effectiveness of disaster relief organizations to provide people with better information on the capacity and funding of organizations directly involved in relief efforts.

Tabula: Improving an open-source tool that makes it easier for journalists to extract data from PDF documents.

Tipsy: Making it easier for content providers to generate revenue by developing a new way to fund news sites through micropayments from readers.

Uncovering Cost, Examining Impact: Developing a crowdsourcing tool to collect data from California residents about what they pay for common health care procedures and making the information available to journalists and the public through KQED, Southern California Public Radio and

Whilecard: Creating a tool that recognizes user preferences for news and information based on their activities (i.e. world and sports in the morning, and stocks and tech when working).

Wiredcraft: Creating an open source tool that allows people to collaboratively edit and publish geographic data and related maps quickly and efficiently.

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.


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