Knight Blog

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

Championing urban innovation in Detroit

March 6, 2012, 9:57 a.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly

There's something in the air in Detroit. 

It seems all of us, especially young Millennials, are leading an initiative, a project or a company that aspires to strengthen our city. There are countless examples, including many anchored in Knight grants, that showcase our city's "do-er" spirit. This spirit of urban innovation is advancing economic opportunity, quality of life and civic engagement across Detroit.

But real data also hints that a movement is underway. Between 2000 and 2010, there was a 59% increase in the population of young adults living downtown. A recent Knight-Gallup study discovered a striking level of community "attachment" among young Detroiters. Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert, an advocate of offering young innovators the spaces they need to thrive, is now our city's third-largest landlord. And last summer, 1,065 black males shared their own stories of civic engagement through BME Detroit.

What's next? 

While many observers have begun to take note and ponder whether Detroit is the "Silicon Valley of Social Entrepreneurship," what are practical things we should do on the ground to accelerate this movement?

At Knight Foundation, we invest in innovative opportunities to inform and engage even more Detroiters in this momentum: as leaders, as supporters, as participants and more.

Today, we're delighted to announce our support for an exciting effort to help Detroiters more productively learn, connect and lead together as urban innovators in the city: the Detroit Urban Innovation Exchange.

Issue Media Group, in partnership with The Huffington Post Detroit, the Detroit Free Press, Data Driven Detroit and many other partners, will share learnings from the local social innovation movement and lead accessible online and offline forums that help many more citizens learn, connect and lead themselves. This exchange will be a learning network in its truest sense.

So whether you're a hard-working professional, a newcomer artist or a small-business owner, we invite you to join in and see your potential to engage.

By Rishi Jaitly, program director/Detroit at Knight Foundation