About the Foundation

“Thus we seek to bestir the people into an awareness of their own condition, provide inspiration for their thoughts and rouse them to pursue their true interests.” — John S. Knight, April 1969


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.

Journalism & Media Innovation

Our goal at Knight Foundation is to preserve the best aspects of journalism and use innovation to expand the impact of information in the digital age. We focus on funding Journalistic Excellence,  Entrepreneurs and Innovators, and Open Information Systems.

Journalistic Excellence: Accurate and thoughtful journalism engages people and strengthens democracy. We support the development of new organizational models; the exploration of new storytelling methods; projects that build skills in journalists; and initiatives that sustain journalistic values, such as freedom of expression. Examples include The Texas Tribune, the Free to Tweet campaign and News21

Entrepreneurs and Innovators: Transformational leaders who work through an iterative process - researching, prototyping, testing, assessing and repeating the cycle as many times as needed - are moving the field forward. We support talented and skilled leaders; empower creative people and focus creative energies; and support diversity in leadership.  Examples include the International Center for Journalists, the Knight Mozilla OpenNews project and the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. The Knight Prototype Fund supports projects with grants of $35,000 and helps teams and individuals test early-stage ideas. For many grantees, it serves as the introduction to our Journalism and Media Innovation program. 

Open Information Systems: Access to information is crucial to empower communities. We support systems and standards for the free flow of information; projects that turn open data into useful products; and initiatives that support values of the open Web. Examples include The Sunlight Foundation, Wikipedia Zero and projects such as the winners of  Knight News Challenge: Open Gov.

Engaged Communities 

We help our communities to succeed through our Community and National Initiatives program. We invest in civic innovations that attract, retain and harness talent; that expand opportunity by increasing entrepreneurship and economic mobility; and that build places that accelerate the growth of ideas and bring people from diverse social and economic backgrounds together.

Promoting civic innovation and robust engagement will enable our communities to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

We carry out our Community and National Initiatives through investments in 26 communities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight owned newspapers. Program directors oversee our investments in eight resident communities: Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Macon, Ga.; Miami; Philadelphia; San Jose/Silicon Valley, Calif.; and St Paul, Minn. We support donor-advised programs in the remaining 18 communities.

We want our national network of learning to inspire the actions of residents in each of our communities and help us build a better democracy and a successful future. 

Fostering the Arts

We seek to weave the arts into the fabric of the above-mentioned eight Knight communities to engage and inspire the people living in them. We believe that the arts are a catalyst for public dialogue and that shared cultural experiences contribute to a sense of place and communal identity.

We seek innovative ways to reach, engage and increase audiences for the arts, including through the use of technology and bringing artists out of performance halls and into people's everyday lives.  

As a way to solicit fresh and innovative ideas, Knight Foundation launched community-wide contests in Detroit,  Miami and Philadelphia to discover and fund the best ideas for the arts. Winners range from individual artists to large institutions.


Resident Communities

Places in which a program director is your first point of contact.