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

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    Poynter Institute reinventing News University for new realities of journalism

    June 28, 2016, 9 a.m., Posted by Vicki Krueger

    Above: A producer monitors the online conversation between Poynter faculty member Al Tompkins and interactive learning producer Vanessa Goodrum. Photo courtesy The Poynter Institute.

    Vicki Krueger is marketing communications manager at The Poynter Institute. She formerly was Poynter’s director of interactive learning, where she managed News University, the world’s largest journalism online learning platform. NewsU was launched in 2005 with funding from Knight Foundation. Today, Knight Foundation is announcing $758,000 in support to remake Poynter News University.

    In today’s disrupted media environment, journalism training matters more than ever. The demand—and the need—has never been greater. With new funding from Knight, The Poynter Institute will build upon our tradition of innovation in journalism education by reimagining what we do and how we do it. We will transform the ways media professionals, educators and everyone interested in journalism and storytelling grows their skills to meet the demands of a complex digital environment.

    Poynter’s e-learning platform reached a record 102,000 users in 2015. That’s in addition to the 1 million page views monthly at, plus the tens of thousands who have attended Poynter in-person seminars and workshops.

    Faculty member Al Tompkins and interactive learning producer Vanessa Goodrum conduct a Poynter conversation on covering gun violence. Photo courtesy The Poynter Institute. 

    It’s time to rethink how Poynter can unleash the power of new platforms with new tools and new technologies. It’s time to expand our capacity to train journalists and to engage new audiences. It’s time to inspire innovation in mobile storytelling and audience engagement, as well as equip journalists to embrace forms of journalism that will evolve as technology moves us forward.

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    First class of Miami Venture for America Fellows help expand region’s entrepreneurial community

    June 27, 2016, 9 a.m., Posted by Jesse Golomb

    Photo: 2014 and 2015 Miami Venture for America Fellows. Photo courtesy Venture for America 

    An earlier version of this post misspelled the last name of Alida Gagliuffi.

    When Russell Suskind moved his business to Miami, he was unsure if he had made the right choice. “You grow up in South Florida and leave for college, and you don’t typically move back,” he said. “It felt like a leap of faith.”

    This month, Suskind and six other young entrepreneurs will celebrate the conclusion of their time as Miami’s inaugural class of Venture for America Fellows. But he almost wasn’t one of them.

    A Hollywood, Florida, native and founder of Doze, an online mattress retailer, Suskind was initially skeptical about whether his startup could thrive in Miami. “I always thought most of the business in Miami was in the hospitality and service industries,” he said. 

    He was swayed by reports from his Miami-based peers in Venture for America, a two-year fellowship program that funnels aspiring entrepreneurs into mid-sized American cities, and whose Miami efforts have been supported by Knight with more than $360,000 since 2014. “The fellows down here were not only enjoying their jobs, but the growth of entrepreneurship in the city,” Suskind said.

    And so, after initially cofounding Doze in Detroit, another Knight community, Suskind relocated to Miami last September, where he joined the six other fellows who for more than a year had been working in various capacities around the city. At the same time, he was joined by a second class — this one 10 fellows strong.

    “When I got back [from Detroit], we said, ‘Let’s really do this. Let’s put our foot on the gas pedal and let’s make Miami our home.’”

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    Media Innovation

    Crisis Text Line raises $23.8 million to scale services

    June 27, 2016, 8:58 a.m., Posted by Liz Eddy

    Liz Eddy is director of communications at Crisis Text Line, which has received more than $4 million from Knight Foundation, including $2.2 million last week, to develop, grow and promote a new model for digital engagement.

    Each year, 65 million Americans suffer from mental illness. Many of these individuals never reach out for help due to lack of access to care, stigma surrounding mental health, anxiety disorders and beyond. Crisis Text Line recognized this need and developed a service that meets people where they are: on their cellphones. By providing free, 24/7 crisis support via text message, anyone in the U.S. can receive confidential mental health support without ever saying a word out loud.

    We launched quietly in Chicago and El Paso, Texas, in August 2013. Within the first four months, the service spread to all 295 area codes in the U.S. The craziest part? No official marketing was involved. Our organic growth proved the dire need for a platform where people can silently text in for support, anywhere and anytime.

    Since the launch, over 19 million text messages have been exchanged between texters and volunteer crisis counselors, with an average of 50,000 texts per day. With the initial and continued support of Knight Foundation, we can keep supporting these texters via our community of 1,500 crisis counselors. That number is projected to grow more than double in the next two years. If you are interested in applying to be a remote, volunteer crisis counselor apply here.

    On June 16, we announced a $23.8 million round with Knight as one of the contributors. Here’s what we plan to do with that funding:

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