Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

New Cycling Fund moves Charlotte, N.C., forward

March 4, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by Susan Patterson

Author Susan Patterson touring Charlotte on her bike.


I love it when a plan comes together, and a good plan is shaping up to make Charlotte a more bike-friendly city.

It isn’t that nothing had been happening in our city. Over the last few years, much has.

For example, we increasingly see evidence of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan coming to ground (When the city has widened or resurfaced many streets, it’s added bike lanes). A nonprofit focused on increasing transportation options and their usage was launched. And last fall, city residents approved bond dollars for a 26-mile cross-Charlotte greenway trail.

I became more aware of Charlotte’s cycling efforts after a trip to Copenhagen last year. Suddenly, I noticed bike lanes and bike route signs, and I joined a group of Charlotte leaders in a rush-hour bike ride in and out of Uptown Charlotte to experience what we have and what we’re missing.

Democracy Works launches new voter tool, expands programs

March 4, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by Seth Flaxman

Voters waiting in line. Photo by Flickr user redagainPatti.

Seth Flaxman is co-founder and executive director of Democracy Works.

Innovation is at the heart of Democracy Works, a civic tech nonprofit I co-founded five  years ago to make voting easier. As Democracy Works grew, creating partnerships with funders that shared our vision became increasingly important. Working with Knight Foundation has been a perfect example of how funders and grantees can grow and learn together as we seek to achieve transformational impact.

This week, Democracy Works announced $1,000,000 in support  from Knight Foundation and  $400,000 from the MacArthur Foundation for our second round of fundraising, which began in late 2014. Because of their support, we’re on track to become financially sustainable and can continue building innovative technology that helps Americans more actively engage in our democracy.

Towards empathetic disruption: Civic tech and doing what works

March 4, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by John Bracken and Lucas Hernandez

Photo by Flickr user Nathan Gibbs.

Today, we’re announcing $1 million in new support for Democracy Works, to expand the TurboVote platform and support the launch of Ballot Scout, a tool for local elections officials and voters that uses Postal Service barcode technology to track absentee ballots.

We’re particularly excited to be joined by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which is announcing $400,000 in support for Democracy Works.

The grant to Democracy Works--the third we’ve made since 2011--is part of our strategy to take advantage of new digital tools to improve the ways in which Americans relate to their government and to one another.