New collaboration between Knight Foundation and Stanford to open opportunities in media and civic innovation

Press Release

September 26, 2014


Knight Foundation provides $3.6 million for design thinking initiative

MIAMI —Sept. 26, 2014 – To help media and civic innovators deepen their understanding of design thinking and apply it to their work, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced $3.6 million in support of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (aka “the”). 

Related Links

"New Stanford fellowship program will also share stories behind innovation" by Justin Ferrell and Emi Kolawole on Knight Blog (09/26/2014)

"WLRN strives to design a model of innovation to serve South Florida" by Mabel Domenech, WLRN, on Knight Blog (09/26/14)

"The next wave in digital journalism innovation" by Heather Chaplin, The New School, on Knight Blog (09/26/2014)

Design thinking is a process of innovation that focuses on developing ideas through a combination of analytical and creative thinking; people and their needs are placed at the center of the process. The three-year commitment from Knight will focus on the’s fellowship program and media design efforts to integrate the process into fields such as open government, civic technology and data journalism. The initiative will introduce a wide network of innovators to design thinking, helping them unlock their creative potential.

“We’re thrilled to work with Knight Foundation to explore new areas where creative confidence and design thinking can positively impact people and their communities,” said Justin Ferrell, fellowships director at the “This generous gift will allow us not only to do more at Stanford and in the world, but also to share more of what we’re learning with anyone it might help.”

“Successful civic and media innovation means putting the user at the forefront of each stage of the design process,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president of media innovation. “This collaboration with the has the potential to build more informed communities and engage people in civic life through tools that cater to their needs.”

With the funding, the seeks to:

•      Establish three yearlong media designers positions: These designers will work with and observe staff, fellows and students. They will explore interactive tools, learning exercises and online platforms for use by media and civic organizations.

•      Establish three civic innovation fellows: These fellows would, as part of the’s fellowship program, develop an existing project or idea throughout the academic year using design thinking. Fellowship candidates would include people from a variety of fields, including media, civic innovation and education.

•      Design periodic events to foster greater collaboration: The will design events that provide an opportunities for the’s network, as well as Knight’s network of grantees and others to collaborate and explore complex challenges together.

Over the last year, members of the community have worked with Knight Foundation as advisers to the Knight News Challenge and the Knight Prototype Fund. This initiative will help build on that work.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About the Stanford

The is a hub for innovators at Stanford. At the, students and faculty in engineering, medicine, business, law, the humanities, sciences and education take on the world’s messy problems together. Human values are at the heart of its collaborative approach. The focus is on creating spectacularly transformative learning experiences. Along the way, students develop a process for producing creative solutions to even the most complex challenges they tackle. For more, visit


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