About the Foundation

Informed and Engaged

Informed and engaged communities. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation lives by these words.

We believe – we know – that democracy can’t prosper without informed and engaged communities.

Our mission is to help people be informed and engaged fully in the life of their communities.

Why information?

Honest, reliable information is the lifeblood of democracy. People need it to run their lives and their communities.

Why engagement?

To solve today’s problems, communities need to be fully engaged in designing solutions and taking action.

Meeting Information Needs

Knight has always stood for the highest quality in journalism, endowing professorships at top universities, training journalists internationally and advancing freedom of expression worldwide.

People now rely on news streamed instantly over the Internet to their desktops, laptops and cellphones. The ways they get news have changed; the need for honest, incisive reporting has not. We support bold experiments to fill the gap in local information left by shrinking news staffs.

Our signature program is the Knight News Challenge, an international contest that has funded dozens of digital news startups and other experiments in keeping communities informed.

Fostering Engagement

Information – whether about local schools or the economy - is vital. But its impact is limited if people aren’t inspired and prepared to act on it.

In an engaged community, every person has the information, the opportunities and the support needed to take action and lead change throughout their lives. When people become involved, and exercise their full democratic rights, they make their lives and those of others better.

Knight fosters engagement by funding projects that increase the number of people who see themselves as agents of community change.
We look for dynamic and transformative leaders – new and seasoned, young and old – capable of empowering people to work for the common good.

Increasing the places – both physical and virtual – where people can participate in and lead change is also important to Knight. To achieve this, Knight invests in new technologies that inspire people to take action, and fosters real-world communal spaces where groups can come together to share information and get involved.

Our work strives to do what Jack Knight once defined as the bedrock purpose of his newspapers: “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.”

Knight’s work all grows out of those two words: Informed. Engaged.

Information is as essential to community health as clean air or water.

Engaged people make communities better places to live, work and play.

These are our passions. This is what we do. We welcome ideas for doing it better.