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

Feb 25, 2015

Knight News Challenge on Elections opens for ideas

Posted by Chris Barr and Shazna Nessa

The Knight News Challenge on elections is now open for ideas through 5 p.m. ET March 19. This News Challenge, our 13th, reflects Knight Foundation’s ongoing support for projects that improve how people access and use information to participate in democracy.In partnership with the Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation, we are seeking projects* that provide an answer to the question:

How might we better inform voters and increase civic participation before, during and after elections?

There are lots of ways that you can interpret that question, and we aren’t seeking any specific type of project. Ideas can address any part of the voter journey, from nonpartisan ways to inform voters, to streamlining the voting process, to converting the energy of Election Day into long-term civic engagement and everything between. This challenge is open to anyone, from journalists, designers, students, civic technologists and academics, to news organizations, startups, nonprofits, governments and individuals. Winners will share in more than $3 million.

Here are the main stages of the challenge: 

  • Entries: Feb. 25 to March 19 (5 p.m. ET). Apply at
  • Feedback: March 19 to April 13. Ideas are open to feedback from our official reviewers and the public. Comment at
  • Refinement: April 13 to 20. We select semifinalists and ask them to provide more information.
  • Evaluation: Begins April 20. We, along with outside advisers, review the semifinalists, select the finalists and conduct interviews. We will announce the winners in June.

Over the next month we will be providing opportunities, both in person and virtually, for you to ask questions about the challenge. We’ll be everywhere from San Francisco to Austin to Miami, and our first virtual office hours will be held at 1 p.m. on March 3. You can access the meeting online ( using ID 645 136 625), or participate via phone at 1-888-240-2560. View this page for a list of events, which we’ll be updating, and follow the #newschallenge hashtag on Twitter for updates. Also, check out Knight Blog for inspirations from academics, journalists, technologists and more. You can also reach us with questions @knightfdn, @heychrisbarr or @shazna on Twitter, or via e-mail at You can sign up for News Challenge alerts here.

So how would you better inform and inspire voters or make the election experience more fun and accessible? Elections represent the best opportunity for Americans to shape policy and reimagine their shared future. Join us to help amplify that potential by submitting an idea, sharing your thoughts and spreading the word.

Chris Barr is director of media innovation and Shazna Nessa is director of journalism at Knight Foundation.

To submit an entry for the Knight News Challenge or provide feedback on other submissions, visit  Knight News Challenge: Elections closes on March 19 at 5 p.m. ET.

*The Knight News Challenge will only support nonpartisan ideas. There are categories of ideas the Challenge will not fund, under laws governing elections and nonprofit organizations. It will not support ideas that are aimed to influence the outcome of any specific election or legislation. Nor will it fund, directly or indirectly, a voter registration drive. We will be offering virtual office hours during the application period and otherwise responding to questions to make sure applicants are clear on the parameters.

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