KnightBlog

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

Media Innovation
Mar 16, 2016

Last-minute tips for applying to the Knight News Challenge on Libraries

Posted by Nina Zenni

Above: Seattle Central Library by Peter Morgan on Flickr.


Talking about Knight News Challenge - Libraries at the Library Ideas Drop at SXSW in Austin.

knc lib

The Knight News Challenge on Libraries closes at 5 p.m. ET Monday, March 21. Winners will share in $3 million for the best projects that answer the question: How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?

With just a few days left, here are some tips for submitting the strongest application. 

  • Be clear and concise. The application has five basic questions which should be answered within the 3000-character limit. Please avoid jargon and grant speak, and explain your idea as clearly as possible. Also, be sure to pick a short, clear title and summary.

  • Make it visual. The News Challenge platform allows for additional documents and images to be uploaded with the application. We urge you to take advantage of this option. This could be a photo, a quick sketch (a .jpg, .png, or .gif) or embedded video from YouTube or Vimeo. It does not need to be professionally produced to be compelling.

  • Publish your application early. Although there are only a few days left, publishing your application allows for the community to view your entry, ask questions and provide feedback. The earlier you publish, the more time you have to use that feedback to make edits to your entry. And it also avoids the last-minute bottlenecks or technical problems that can occur.

  • Have someone else review your application. Getting another opinion will help assure you are communicating your idea as clearly as possible. Also, make sure that someone with no knowledge of your field will be able to understand your idea.

Additionally, here are some answers to questions that have come up during our virtual office hours and meetup over the last few weeks:

  • Can I submit a closed or private submission? Yes. To do so, please answer all the questions for the application (following the same guidelines and character limits) and send a PDF document titled “[Project Name], KNC: Libraries Closed Entry” to newschallenge@knightfoundation.org before the deadline.

  • Can I apply from outside the U.S.? No. This News Challenge is limited to organizations that are based in the U.S. If you are a domestic organization working in partnership with international organizations or people, you are still eligible to apply. Please keep in mind that we are looking for applications that are, at least, replicable in the U.S. and will impact the field at large.

  • Can I edit my published application? Yes. Once you publish your application, it is viewable by the public, but can still be edited. We urge you to engage the community for feedback and make any changes you like. However, once the review process begins after the deadline, we cannot guarantee that your changes will be seen by the review team. Please make these changes as soon as possible.

  • How long can a grant period be and how much money does each project receive? Each winning idea will receive amounts from $200,000 to $500,000 for a grant period of one to two years. However, in addition to the winners of large amounts, we will identify a group of projects to receive seed funding of $35,000 through the Knight Prototype Fund for a term of six months.

  • How many winners are usually selected? We typically select eight to 10 main winners and eight to 12 prototype winners.

  • What parts of my budget will you fund? We will pay for what it takes to design, develop and implement your project, including marketing and travel. We do not fund overhead costs or administrative fees. For a list of things we aren’t looking for, visit this link.

  • My project is a partnership between multiple people and organizations. Do you want the submitter to be one organization, an individual or all of us? We don’t have a preference. Just please make mention of all the parties involved and assure that the email address associated with the submitter is the best way to contact you.

  • When will I find out if I have been selected? We will contact all applicants between April 14 - 18. Semifinalists will then be asked to answer a set of refinement questions.

Any more questions? Please see our FAQ page, view this interview with Chris Barr, our director of media innovation, or visit this reddit iAMA chat with John Bracken, our vice president for media innovation. 

Follow #newschallenge on Twitter for updates and check in with the Knight Blog for more inspiration from leaders in the libraries field. Don't forget to submit your application by 5 p.m. ET on March ET.

Good luck!

Nina Zenni is a media innovation associate at Knight Foundation. Email her at zenni@knightfoundation.org.

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