Spark Camp to launch more events, create stronger partnerships, promote innovation in media and technology

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Spark Camp expands model of connecting innovators” By Amanda Michel and Andrew Pergam on Knight Blog

CAMBRIDGE, MA.— June 20, 2014 — Spark Camp, an organization reimagining how leaders convene, will expand its offerings and create stronger connections to foster media innovation with $250,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Spark Camp gathers thought leaders from across industries to tackle issues in media, technology and journalism during an intimate weekend of conversations.  Its aim is to create new relationships, broaden perspectives, increase knowledge and create a foundation for further collaboration.

With Knight funding, Spark Camp will expand into Spark Co, and move beyond its invitation-only weekend events to create themed tracks. These tracks will involve more specific, industry-oriented events and larger festivals, as well as collaborative projects and publications between participants.  

The establishment of Spark Co is rooted in the first Spark Camp event, which was held at The City University of New York (CUNY) in 2011. Since then, there have been five signature Spark Camps held in collaboration with Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation, Stanford University’s and the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism, each revolving around different themes, such as real time, data, money and storytelling.

The first new track starts this weekend at Harvard with a Spark Camp exploring the theme of leadership and management; upcoming themes may include the future of philanthropy and problem-solving for opportunity gaps.  In addition to these events, Spark Co will also share playbooks and tips from participants on creating similar convenings in other communities.  

“By building on its current model that centers on creativity, in-depth discussions and idea flow, Spark Camp will help strengthen a network of thought leaders and doers who are equipped to tackle the challenges facing today’s newsrooms,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism and media innovation.

“The response to Spark Camp has been overwhelming in our first three years,” says Amy Webb, one of Spark Camp’s founders and organizers. “As we continue to iterate on the concept, we’re finding a strong demand for smaller, more intimate events where we can quickly facilitate creative relationships across industries. This grant from Knight Foundation will support the launch of new Spark Co events, like the Summit, and it will underwrite our strong commitment to diversity.”

Spark Camp’s founders—Amy Webb, Amanda Michel, Andrew Pergam and Matt Thompson—have all worked extensively in journalism and media.  Spark Co advisers are Richard Gingras (Google), Dave Gehring (Google), Esther Dyson (inventor and philanthropist) and Jenny 8. Lee (also a Spark Camp co-founder and CEO/founder of Plympton).

For more information visit

About Spark Camp

Spark Camp is a next-generation convener. We engineer productive collisions of talented people to tackle provocative questions, develop meaningful relationships and lead ideas into action. We facilitate important conversations that propel society forward. We challenge convention. We value intimacy. We have fun. And we form an enduring and diverse network of innovative thinkers set on bringing about positive change in their worlds.

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. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit



Amanda Michel, co-founder and organizer, Spark Camp, 347-271-1704, [email protected]

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