Knight Blog

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

Seth Flaxman: First state-wide partnership brings voter registration services to 850,000 students

Aug. 1, 2014, 5:09 p.m., Posted by Seth Flaxman

A TurboVote rally at Miami Dade College in April 2012. Credit: Miami Dade College

This article is cross posted with permission from Democracy Fund.

Back in January of 2012, TurboVote had one partner school, our first grant had only just come in, and I was struggling with how to run payroll for the first time. That month I hired a dynamic young organizer, Sam Novey, on one condition: fly to Miami for two weeks with no travel budget and get three colleges that are a little bit interested in TurboVote signed on as partners. Over a dozen trips to Florida later, we’ve come a long way.

Last month, Senator Bob Graham announced in front of a packed audience of student affairs professionals from across the country that Florida was now “leading the charge” with 38 colleges and universities from across the state institutionalizing voter engagement with the help of TurboVote. He was sharing some breaking news. The Florida College System (FCS) had just announced a new partnership with TurboVote to bring our tool to 27 state and community colleges—making this is the first system-wide project of the FCS Civic Literacy Initiative, which aims to make civic engagement part of the experience of all 850,000 students enrolled in the system.

Bringing this partnership to life required some serious teamwork. Our first few Florida colleges were all introduced to us through the Knight Foundation. Funding from Knight and the Democracy Fund helped us keep a team of talented organizers focused on this opportunity for over a year, and funding from the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College is what made the whole FCS expansion ultimately possible.

Lessons of a lifetime guide new Knight leadership in Akron, Ohio

Aug. 1, 2014, 1:27 p.m., Posted by Josh McManus

Akron African-American Festival. Credit: Benjamin Lehman on

Having the ability to support people who are doing good things in their community is most certainly a dream job. The feelings that can come from equipping people to take action on what they most care about can be incredible. The tough part is that needs always exceed what’s available and that the job of a grantmaker involves as much head as it does heart. 

As I join a new team to serve and honor the legacy of the Knight brothers in their hometown, I am humbled by the task at hand. More than 30 years after his death, Jack Knight still looms large in the minds of many of the Akronites that I’ve already met.  Though Mr. Knight traveled the world many times over, he always returned to a two-mile corridor in Downtown Akron that stretches from the Beacon Journal to the Portage Country Club. By all accounts, Jack Knight loved Akron and always wanted the best for the city and its residents.

Vote now for the Detroit Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award

Aug. 1, 2014, 8 a.m., Posted by Katy Locker

This article is cross-posted from

In Detroit, we’re seeing art and artistic performances pop up all around us.  Some of them have long been fixtures in the community and yet previously unrecognized outside of small circles.  Some of them are entirely new, attracted to a Detroit artistic scene and opportunity that is becoming nationally and internationally known. 

At Knight Foundation, we strive to find innovative projects that engage and enrich Detroiters through the arts.  We recently announced 87 finalists for the 2014 Knight Arts Challenge.  While the finalists’ proposals are reviewed and winners are selected, we are taking an opportunity to shine the spotlight on five small arts organizations – an emerging drumline academy, two dramatically different dance efforts, a growing center for African culture and site-specific theater performers.