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

Nov 16, 2012

Knight disaster aid focuses on community information needs

Posted by Eric Newton

Photo Credit: Flickr user The National Guard

It's a key piece of the puzzle that usually gets overlooked in disaster relief – community information. That's why when the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation called to ask Knight to join the New Jersey Recovery Fund, we readily said yes, and pledged up to $250,000 to match those who agree that long-term recovery coverage by local non-profit media will be needed to have the best possible recovery.

Clearly, water, food, clothing, shelter and medical care are the most immediate needs when disaster strikes. But information is essential to get help to where its needed most. Moreover, communities can engage around information to help themselves, and stay engaged in the long term as government and other institutions examine decisions that can affect a community's future.

The New Jersey Recovery Fund, based at the Community Foundation of New Jersey, will target grants and low- or no-interest loans to provide flexible support to nonprofits, which are responding to, and have been severely impacted by, the hurricane. In addition it will provide support to forward-thinking communities which need resources to implement smart rebuilding solutions.

Knight's support for the information piece of the recovery puzzle reflects the evolution of its strategy, from meeting immediate needs to supporting informed and engaged communities so they can help themselves. For a example, a June Knight News Challenge winner,, has launched version of its website to connect volunteers and supplies with needs in four New York communities. Meanwhile PublicStuff, supported through Knight's Enterprise Fund, offers an app that helps residents report damage.

By Eric Newton, senior adviser to the President at Knight Foundation

Related: "N.J. charities establish Sandy recovery fund for long-term needs of victims"

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