On the Table, successful effort to spark new approaches to civic dialogue, receives $2 million reinvestment from Knight Foundation – Knight Foundation

On the Table, successful effort to spark new approaches to civic dialogue, receives $2 million reinvestment from Knight Foundation

Effort to connect neighbors over mealtime conversations engages 40,000 in U.S. cities in the last year

MIAMI – Feb. 26, 2018 – On the Table, a national initiative which in 2017 brought 40,000 residents in 10 cities together in mealtime conversations to talk about ways to address pressing community issues, will return to communities across the country with $2 million in new funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The support will renew the initiative for another two years, through 2019.

On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2013. The initiative was expanded by Knight Foundation in 2017, with community foundations in cities across the country leading the effort.

“On the Table is a surging effort to reinvent public dialogue. In its first year, the national effort brought together thousands of people to meet and discuss difficult and sometimes contentious issues face-to-face. Participants worked to build connections and consensus, identify solutions to local challenges, and use these results to influence decision-makers. In its next phase, we hope to see these conversations translate to deeper local action,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director for community foundations.

In 2018, On the Table initiative will involve community foundations in 10 cities where Knight invests: Akron Community Foundation (Akron, Ohio); Foundation for the Carolinas (Charlotte, North Carolina); Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley (Columbus, Georgia); Legacy Foundation (Gary, Indiana); Blue Grass Community Foundation (Lexington, Kentucky); Community Foundation of Central Georgia (Macon); The Miami Foundation (Miami); Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties (Palm Beach, Florida); Philadelphia Foundation (Philadelphia); and Silicon Valley Community Foundation (San Jose, California).

Each city will schedule one day when they will convene thousands of residents to share both a meal and ideas on how to make their city a better place to live and work, while identifying opportunities to address local challenges such as affordable housing, climate change, race relations, and urban design and public space improvements. Data and insights from On the Table help to inform many strategic plans and grant-making for both community foundations and city governments. Data is also shared with local decision-makers, organizations and residents to encourage them to collaborate on actions that can improve the quality of life in their city.

In its first year, On the Table participants created a national network of people who are working to make communities stronger and more successful. The conversations sparked new community collaboration across sectors, informed city planning efforts, and facilitated participants moving ideas to action through projects in their community.

Blue Grass Community Foundation will kick off the 2018 effort in Lexington, Kentucky on March 28. Follow Knight Foundation and #knightcities on Twitter for updates about On the Table conversations in other cities throughout the year. Other dates include:

  • Akron, Ohio: Oct. 3, 2018
  • Charlotte, North Carolina: Oct. 24, 2018 
  • Columbus, Georgia: Oct. 23, 2018
  • Gary, Indiana: Sept. 26, 2018
  • Macon, Georgia: Oct. 17, 2018
  • Miami, Florida: Oct. 23, 2018
  • Palm Beach County, Florida: Oct. 24, 2018
  • Philadelphia: Nov. 8, 2018
  • Silicon Valley: Oct. 23, 2018

Support for On the Table forms one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement. The foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit http://knightfoundation.org.


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