St. Paul, Minn., organizations to increase city vibrancy, promote civic engagement with more than $642,500 from Knight Foundation

St. Paul, Minn. – Nov. 8, 2016 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced more than $642,500 in new funding for 9 projects that will create new incentives for talented people to live and stay in the city, advance economic growth and encourage residents to participate more in civic life.

From transforming vacant spaces in the city’s downtown core into vibrant spots for meeting and community collision to creating a hub for entrepreneurship and civic conversations, the projects focus on building a more vibrant, inclusive St. Paul, while leveraging some of the city’s greatest strengths: talent, green spaces and a burgeoning creative scene. Led by community development and public sector organizations, the projects reflect a growing recognition that a thriving city is defined and led by its community.

Funding was announced today at a welcome gathering for Jai Winston, new Knight Foundation program director in St. Paul, held at the James J. Hill Center in St. Paul.

“The creative energy and appetite for positive change in St. Paul is palpable,” said Jai Winston, Knight Foundation program director for St. Paul. “These projects aim to tap into this momentum, engaging the community in innovative projects that aim to connect diverse residents and seek their input into programs that will make the city an even better place to live and work.”

The organizations receiving support include:

Creative Enterprise Zone, via MAP for Nonprofits ($63,002) – Helping to keep innovators and entrepreneurs in St. Paul’s Creative Enterprise Zone and attract new ones with a marketing campaign and online networking service that will build excitement around its offerings, and help to propel economic development in the area while maintaining its unique character.

Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities ($50,000) – Sharing information and lessons from other funders focused on cities and urban improvement by supporting the 2017 Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities annual conference in St. Paul.

James J. Hill Center ($60,000) – Promoting entrepreneurship and civic conversation by increasing the James J. Hill Center’s role as a civic hub for St. Paul through the creation of a director of programming position to curate activities that engage entrepreneurs and civic groups around community needs and opportunities.

Make It. MSP. ($75,000): Supporting MSP Hello, an initiative to connect new residents to local events and programming through an online interactive forum, events and guides that will include a list of resources and practical information on navigating life in the city.

Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation ($75,000): Creating an even more vibrant and successful downtown St. Paul by establishing the Downtown Development Framework, a common vision for future downtown investments shaped by local civic, business and community leaders.

St. Paul Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc. ($75,000) – Connecting people from diverse backgrounds and enhancing the city’s vibrancy by transforming the vacant Central Station lot and adjacent skyway into a temporary plaza. Other project partners include: Building Owners and Managers Association, The City of St. Paul, The Metro Transit, Musicant Group.

Springboard for the Arts ($75,000) – Increasing community vibrancy in St. Paul’s Creative Enterprise Zone by supporting Can Can Wonderland, a unique artist-designed mini golf course and weekly programs that connect diverse residents.

Transit for Livable Communities’ Friendly Streets Initiative, with Rondo Avenue Inc. ($99,500): Promoting the vibrancy and economic growth of St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood by launching “ReConnectRondo,” a new organization that will work with the community to create a bridge over Interstate 94 to reconnect the neighborhood.

The Trust for Public Land ($70,000) – Advancing a community engagement process to develop “The Park at Griggs Street” to build a shared vision for the park among diverse residents and students, and supporting temporary activities in the space before construction.     

Funding for these projects forms part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to attract and keep talented people in St. Paul, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement. Knight has provided more than $64 million in support to the St. Paul community since 1977.

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


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