Knight Blog

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

Foundations take on projects to improve local news and information

Oct. 30, 2014, 11:57 a.m., Posted by Steve Outing


Terry Mazany of the Chicago Community Trust and Neha Singh Gohil of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation take part in a design thinking session for their projects.

Increasingly, community foundations are playing a role in meeting the information needs of their cities. Over the next year, KnightBlog will follow four of these projects funded by the Knight Community Information Challenge, and share their progress and insights.

Community foundations aren't likely to save faltering local news institutions or bring failed media outlets back from the dead. But six years into the Knight Community Information Challenge, they now are playing a significant role in ensuring residents have the information and news they need to shape their cities.

Knight launched the Community Information Challenge in 2008 as a way to encourage community and place-based foundations to get involved in stemming what was becoming a news-and-information crisis across the U.S.: the alarming decline in local journalism as a result of the news industry's rocky transition to the digital age and the loss of many working journalists in local media. Through 2013, the challenge backed more than 100 community-information projects, which were matched with funding from community foundations.

Lessons from Miami’s Underline: What makes an idea stick?

Oct. 30, 2014, 9:39 a.m., Posted by Meg Daly

Meg Daly is an entrepreneur and founder of Friends of The UnderlineKnight Foundation provided seed funding for the project to promote community engagement. Photos: Pedestrian path below Metrorail track by Michael Bolden.

For years, people posted notes on doors, corkboards and car windshields with tape, thumbtacks and windshield wipers. Notes got wet, stolen and often never delivered. 

Then, along came the Post-it note. We could post notes wherever we wanted, without the hassle of glue, tape or other things to make the note stick. And, the product took off, making billions for the company with the Post-it patent, 3M. 

Sometimes great ideas like that, with the possibility for big change, are right in front of us, just waiting for someone to take them and run with it. Sometimes they are ideas just sitting in your back yard, with the possibility of changing an entire community.

How storytelling heals and strengthens communities

Oct. 29, 2014, 1:42 p.m., Posted by Anna Clark


The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers. Photo by Marvin Shaouni.

Cross-posted with permission from Creative Exchange

In April of 2014, Damian Woetzel and the Aspen Institute Arts Program convened a Strategy Group in Detroit. This convening brought together local and national experts: artists and leaders in arts, policy, community development and education. The group spent a thrilling morning at Spain Elementary School where Yo-Yo Ma, Damian Woetzel, Lil Buck, Aaron Dworkin and Cristina Pato conducted an ArtStrike with students and teachers followed by a roundtable discussion on the role of the arts in Detroit Public Schools. In the afternoon the group focused on creative placemaking and the ways in which art is contributing to Detroit’s future and how it can be further utilized to reimagine the city. There is so much important, groundbreaking work happening in Detroit right now that the Aspen Institute Arts Program felt it was important to share the story of this work more widely. Our hope is others may learn from and understand more deeply the challenges and opportunities facing Detroit and the unique way that Detroit views artists as a critical asset and building block for the future. This is the second of three pieces commissioned by the Aspen Institute Arts Program in partnership with Creative Exchange. (Read part one here and part two here.)


Performer and writer Satori Shakoor knows that for some of her white friends, she is probably their only black friend in the city: the one African American who comes to their home, plays with their child, and altogether is a meaningful part of their life.