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

  • Some alt text
    Media Innovation

    20 projects explore new uses of data, media and tech with support of Knight Prototype Fund

    April 30, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by Chris Barr

    Nearly three years ago we started funding prototypes as a way to make small bets on exploratory work that promises to create new pathways for information that is essential for communities. We’ve focused on providing funding for broad experimentation at this early stage, designing a program that asks small teams to iteratively test their assumptions and share what they’ve learned.

    We now fund groups of prototype projects each quarter. In addition to $35,000, teams receive training in human-centered design and support from a data science team at Impact Lab to structure their learning objectives. At the end of six months, they meet to share what they’ve learned and the outcomes of their projects.

    The deadline for the next round of Prototype Fund grants is May 15. Submitting an idea is easy; just answer five questions through our online form.

    This round of grants includes a diverse group of projects that explore novel uses of data, media and technology to inform people. Check out the 20 projects receiving support in this cohort below.

    Chris Barr is director of media innovation at Knight Foundation. Email him at Apply for the Knight Prototype Fund at

    Read full article ›

  • Some alt text
    Engaged Communities

    ‘Knight Cities’ podcast: Prototype Festival hacks traditional methods of city planning

    April 29, 2015, 3:35 p.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

    Joy. Play. Whimsy. Those are words not often used to describe city planning and the associated public engagement it usually requires.

    But with its Market Street Prototyping Festival, San Francisco inverted the traditional planning model and turned its main street into a canvas for testing ideas submitted by citizens.

    Knight Cities podcast

    The result, on display for three days in early April, was a collection of 52 passion projects up and down Market Street that the public could experience and play with.

    Neil Hrushowy, program director with the City Design Group, led the effort for the City and County of San Francisco Planning Department.

    Here are five things you should know about my conversation with Neil.

    Read full article ›

  • Engaged Communities

    Civic technology needs community engagement in order to work

    April 29, 2015, 9:51 a.m., Posted by Steve Outing

    Experimental Modes Convening at The Chicago Trust on April 4. Photo by Daniel X O'Neil on Flickr.

    This post is one in a series on what four community and place-based foundations are learning by funding media projects that help to meet their local information needs. All are funded through the Knight Community Information Challenge.

    Perhaps a reason that civic tech has not yet found a prominent place within many community and place-based foundations is the emphasis on "technology." Would civic tech grow faster if "civic engagement" with people were a bigger, more visible part of the process of using and developing technology services to address citizens' civic needs?

    "I've found that the framing of 'civic tech' is not immediately resonant with community foundations," says Daniel X. O'Neil, executive director of the Chicago Community Trust's Smart Chicago Collaborative, which is at the forefront of foundations experimenting in this field.

    Read full article ›