Knight Blog

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

Tech Cocktail debuts speaker series in Miami with Open English CEO

April 23, 2014, 8:52 a.m., Posted by Camila Souza on Vimeo.

Camila Souza is the writer and community manager in Miami for Tech Cocktail, a national media and events organization that covers entrepreneurs. Knight Foundation invested $150,000 to bring Tech Cocktail to South Florida.

Tech Cocktail will launch its popular speaker series in Miami with a local businessman who heads a growing online English school that serves U.S. and Latin American markets.

Andrés Moreno, co-founder and CEO of Open English, kicks off Tech Cocktail sessions May 1 at Venture Hive in downtown Miami. Frank Gruber, CEO and co-founder of Tech Cocktail, will lead the conversation, which will tap into Moreno’s experience as an entrepreneur. Moreno raised more than $120 million in venture capital to drive the expansion of Open English.

“Our goal with these types of events is to help nurture this growing tech community,”  Gruber said, “by creating opportunities for experienced entrepreneurs to share lessons learned while unlocking stories we can share online with both our local and national audience.”

Learning Lab gathers ideas on making the most of talent in our cities

April 22, 2014, 9:08 a.m., Posted by Carol Coletta


Photo credit: Flickr user Jai Kapoor.

What do you see when you think about what the workforce looks like in your city?

The traditional view has been people working full time Monday through Friday, from 9 to 5. But the reality is not that simple. Since 1970, the number of self-employed people as a share of total jobs has more than doubled. Today there is more than one self-employed person for every five wage and salaried workers. Some call these people “solo entrepreneurs.” They are still far from a majority of the workforce, but they are much more prevalent than most people think, and researchers predict the number will continue to grow.


"Get with the program: Developing an action plan for successful cities" by Carol Coletta on

This transition to self-employment creates new challenges for cities. Who is the target of a city’s economic development efforts if more than 20 percent of its workers are self-employed? What type of support do solo entrepreneurs need? How can public places and programming be used to make independent workers as productive as possible? 

There are no certain answers, but here at Knight Foundation we want to facilitate the conversation. We also want to understand for our own work what role cities can play. That’s why this week we’re holding a Civic Innovation Learning Lab on Harnessing Talent on Wednesday, April 23. It’s the second in a series of three labs that will culminate in a Civic Innovation in Action Studio in May where we will try to emerge with ideas for testing in cities. Last month we held a lab on advancing opportunity, and we plan to hold a lab on robust engagement on Thursday (check Knight Blog for details on that one later this week).

17 projects receive funding through Knight Prototype Fund

April 22, 2014, 9:06 a.m., Posted by Chris Barr


Photo credit: Chris Barr.

Sometimes you have a great idea, and you just need time, space and some capital to test it. Seventeen projects will get that chance as the latest recipients of Prototype Fund grants from Knight Foundation.  

The Prototype Fund is designed to give people with great concepts for media and information projects grants of $35,000 and six months to take their idea all the way to demo with a class of others facing a similar challenge. What can you learn in six months? Quite a bit.

Recently, grantees, friends and advisers gathered at Matter in San Francisco to watch presentations from Knight grantees completing their Prototype Fund grant experience. The event focused on highlighting learnings from projects started six months earlier.

In the case of this group, we learned how youth can learn about fair use to become little Jon Stewarts, how live video can engage radio audiences, and how sometimes, despite technological advances, parts of your community might prefer a paper map. The presenters talked about how they tested assumptions, addressed technical challenges and worked to understand user needs.

We fully expect some of the grantees will move on to further funding from Knight Foundation and other sources. Two of the projects from the recent class have already secured outside funding. Max Ogen’s DAT has received a grant from the Sloan Foundation and will become a project of the Open Data Institute, and 596 Acre’s Living Lots project has received an OpenGov grant from the Sunlight Foundation.

In all 17, projects presented at demo day: The Rashomon ProjectCurious CityHow Secure Am I?DocHiveWFMUCollabMatchTransom Online WorkshopsRadiotopiaVoteStreamKon*FabData DocsDATFOIA MachineLiving LotsOnBoard and Media Breaker.