The following blog post is written by Michele McLellan, a Circuit Rider for the Knight Community Information Challenge, which is accepting applications from community and place-based foundations through June 1. Photo credit: ModeShift on Flickr.
Six years ago, the Knight Community Information Challenge set out to encourage community foundations to fill gaps in local information created by shrinking newsrooms.
Along the way, though, many challenge winners found that their news and information projects increased civic engagement – in fact, that’s what more than two-thirds reported recently in a survey by FSG.
FSG surveyed more than 50 community foundations that have sponsored local news and information projects in the first five years of the challenge, which is accepting applications from locally-focused funders through June 1.
Among the overall survey findings:
- 66 percent reported they had increased community engagement in issues they care about.
- 74 percent report contributing towards a more informed community, to greater media attention to local issues, and to greater collaboration among community issues.
FSG cited these examples:
- ACT for Alexandria in Virginia created an online town hall called “Ask the city council candidates.” This prompted online discussion and the local Democratic party used questions from the town hall in its final primary debate. The project reports that residents have also been more engaged in local problem solving. For example, during a competition to promote engagement, residents generated 22 different ideas for how to improve the play opportunities for children in Alexandria.