KnightBlog

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

Communities
Sep 16, 2014

Knight Cities Challenge offers $5 million to uncover ideas to make cities more successful

Posted by Carol Coletta

Today we’re announcing the Knight Cities Challenge, a broad effort to uncover innovative ideas to make our cities more successful, and we’re investing $5 million to support projects that do this. Our question: “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?”

We don’t have preconceived notions on what winning ideas will look like, but the research on what matters to the success of cities is clear. Cities that want long-term success should stimulate increases in talent, opportunity and engagement.

Why?

Talent is critical because the percentage of college graduates in your population explains 58 percent of your metro area’s success (if you measure success by per capita income).  And talented people, who are among the most mobile groups in society, want to live in vibrant, diverse communities.

Opportunity is critical because it is fundamental to getting more people on the ladder of economic success. Cities that break down economic divides and provide opportunity to people from different backgrounds stimulate ideas and connections that enable their communities to thrive.

And engagement is critical because the future of a community is shaped by hundreds of small decisions made every day by thousands of people deciding what they believe about a community’s future and their role in it.

The importance of talent, opportunity and engagement is clear. 

If only we knew how to make them happen in our communities.

That’s where the Knight Cities Challenge comes in. It’s our way of inviting ambitious ideas on how to accelerate talent, opportunity and engagement in 26 Knight communities.

Since good ideas can come from anyone anywhere, our call for ideas is international. If you have an idea, we want to hear from you, but the work must focus in a Knight community. 

If your idea is selected as a finalist and you live in a Knight community, great. If your idea is selected as a finalist and you don’t live in a Knight community, we will help you find a champion for local application.

The point is this: We want to learn from you, while Knight communities benefit from your good work.

The initial application process is simple. There are only two substantive questions we ask:  What’s your idea? And what do you hope to learn from the work?

The application phase opens Oct. 1 and continues through Nov. 14. We will host community information sessions and hold virtual office hours throughout the application period to answer your questions. But we’re making the application process so easy that little coaching is necessary.

Imagine what could happen if we could gather up ideas from America’s most ambitious civic innovators – activists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects, city officials, educators, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, block captains, social workers, neighbors  – and put them to work in cities across the nation over the next 18 months. And then imagine that we introduce these civic innovators to one another to share and spread their ideas. 

We believe we may be at the beginning of a new movement to unleash big ideas from everywhere for making our cities successful. We invite you to be part of that movement by submitting your idea to the Knight Cities Challenge.

Carol Coletta is vice president of community and national initiatives at Knight Foundation.

To learn more about the Knight Cities Challenge, join us for virtual office hours.

·      Oct. 1 from 3 to 4 p.m. ET: For best quality, use this link to connect via your Web browser
(please confirm and allow plugin installation at prompt), or connect via telephone by calling 1-888-240-2560 and entering meeting ID 448711858.

·      Oct. 14 from 3 to 4 p.m. ET: For best quality, use this link to connect via your Web browser
(please confirm and allow plugin installation at prompt), 
or connect via telephone by calling 1-888-240-2560 and entering meeting ID 829368066.

Apply for the Knight Cities Challenge from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14 at KnightCities.org. The site goes live Oct. 1. 

Photo: From #CreateMacon event by Hunter Franks.

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