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

  • Communities

    Wyncode Academy scholarships open doors to underserved Miami-Dade residents

    July 28, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by Juha Mikkola

    Wyncode pitch winners. Photo by Jenna Buehler.

    Juha Mikkola is co-founder of Wyncode Academy.

    It’s been written about many times, in many places—Miami is the next tech hub—and over the last few years many of the pieces needed to make that statement true have fallen into place. We’ve seen Wynwood evolve into a center for the tech and creative community, an influx of investment dollars from across the country and around the world has flowed in, and, most importantly, we’ve been able to develop talent here and keep it local. 

    Development talent is the backbone of any tech ecosystem, and in Miami it has been one of the biggest question marks and, for many local companies, their greatest need. Can we train a community of developers and then keep them from jetting off to New York or San Francisco? Are the pieces in place to make sure our best and brightest become the future of our tech ecosystem? 

    The answer is a resounding yes and it is the core reason why we founded Wyncode. In less than two years, we have built a program, and a community, dedicated to teaching anyone the skills and tools needed to have a career in coding and to ensure that the future of the Miami tech ecosystem is built on the strengths of those who call the Magic City, and all of South Florida, home. 

    Nearly 100 people have completed our nine-week, intensive coding boot camp with 92 percent placement within three months—and most of it with local companies. Eight startups have originated out of our program. Twelve companies have hired more than one Wyncoder, 61 total companies have hired at least one, and our network of hiring partners is up to 107. Local startup success stories Kipu Systems and MDLIVE lead the pack with five Wyncoders each.

    What we have seen time and again is that the background of Wyncoders does not determine their success. The hard work, dedication and hustle they put into the program is what sets them apart. While Wyncode has opened the doors for many to join tech companies or start their own, the cost of the program has kept many great candidates that possess the qualities we value from being able to participate. Now, thanks to the support of Knight Foundation, Wyncode will provide Future Leaders of Tech scholarships to a total of nine low-income, underrepresented Miami-Dade County residents over the next five cohorts. Recipients of the Future Leaders of Tech scholarships will be enrolled in our nine-week Wyncode Academy cohort at our Miami campus located within The LAB Miami’s entrepreneurial environment.

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  • Some alt text

    Gutsy work by Cristin Richard at Playground Detroit

    July 28, 2015, 6 a.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    There are a number of ways to make art that is visceral and gripping. In a new body of work being presented at Playground Detroit, Cristin Richard takes a direct approach; she uses literal viscera as her starting point.

    Working with animal casings—translucent skins that are used to make sausages, dried to a thin, wax paper-like texture—she has generated an installation that is at turns delicate and disturbing.

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  • Media Innovation

    ‘Curious City’ inspires scalable model for engagement journalism that answers people’s questions

    July 27, 2015, 12:25 p.m., Posted by Vignesh Ramachandran

    Photos by WBEZ Chicago.

    When Chicagoans were curious earlier this year what it might be like to live directly adjacent to the city’s elevated train tracks, public radio station WBEZ answered the question with an in-depth story and podcast. The reporters went through public records to find complaints and interviewed homeowners and renters. Turns out: You just get used to the noise and the shaking when the train goes by.

    WBEZ (Chicago Public Media) produced this feature story as a result of an audience-submitted question on its Curious City website. Curious City is a community-driven platform that allows anyone to submit and vote on questions pertaining to the area that the station will then report on and answer in a podcast and multimedia story. The project received support from the Knight Prototype Fund during 2013, an initiative that helps take early-stage information ideas from concept to demo.

    But what began as an experiment at this Chicago radio station has grown into a regular source of stories for a number of public media outlets – as well as spinning off into a media startup.

    Curious City founder Jennifer Brandel is expanding the technology behind the platform to other stations around the country with her new startup Hearken. Hearken recently emerged from Matter, a San Francisco media accelerator that Knight Foundation has invested in. The idea is premised on a win-win situation: The community gets their burning questions answered and the news organization sees higher engagement with these stories. KUOW in Seattle found six of its top 10 stories of 2014 were from user-generated ideas. In its “Bay Curious” series, KQED in San Francisco has answered questions such as why towing is so expensive and the backstory behind the city’s iconic “eyesore,” Sutro Tower.

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