Knight Blog

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

ZoningCheck helps entrepreneurs find a home for their next business

July 23, 2014, 8 a.m., Posted by Peter Koht and Joel Mahoney

Peter Koht and Joel Mahoney are co-founders of OpenCounter, a winner of the 2013 Knight News Challenge: Open Gov. Below, they write about their work and the launch of their latest project, ZoningCheck.

To most citizens, zoning is invisible: We’re aware of it in the abstract, but it doesn’t seem to affect our daily lives. But if you’re an entrepreneur trying to open a business, zoning has a direct and immediate impact on your plans and your pocketbook.

Thanks to the support of Knight Foundation, we’re announcing a new product that will help entrepreneurs navigate the zoning clearance process. We call it ZoningCheck.

Here’s where it will help: Like the computer code that powers our laptops and mobile phones, the legal code that runs a city is dense and difficult to understand. There’s a lot of jargon, references to other documents, and all the narrative tension of a phone book.

Apprenticeships - updated for the era of entrepreneurship and high tech

July 21, 2014, 2 p.m., Posted by Shaila Ittycheria and Kane Sarhan

Enstitute, a nationally recognized apprenticeship program for 21st century careers, recently announced its expansion to Miami with the support of Knight Foundation. Below, Enstitute co-founders Shaila Ittycheria and Kane Sarhan write about the program.

When you hear the word “apprentice,” what do you think?

You might flash back to the 1700s, imagining a young Ben Franklin working on a printing press or maybe recall something more recent such as Donald Trump saying “You’re fired” on television every week. Or maybe you think of Germany, where over 500,000 students complete apprenticeships every year across hundreds of industries. Most likely, you think of the 27,000 apprentice programs for trade jobs—carpenters, electricians and woodworkers—in the United States.  No matter what you think of, there is one thing to know: They work. On average, they have an 80 percent completion rate and a 70 percent hire rate (they actually lead to jobs). We don’t offer enough apprenticeships in the United States.  Enstitute, which operates in four cities, is aiming to change that, and Miami is our newest hub.

Enstitute is a new look at an old model. We have brought apprenticeships to the 21st century and innovation economy. We place 18- to 24-year-olds in full-time, paid apprenticeships under founders and executives at high-growth startups and social enterprises and innovative corporations in digital media and technology sectors. For our apprentices, we offer real-world experience and mentorship. For employers, we are a pipeline to undiscovered local talent and a platform to recruit and bring talent from around the nation to Miami.


Project for Lean Urbanism refining research to inform field

July 18, 2014, 1:36 p.m., Posted by Andrés Duany

Incoming CNU President Lynn Richards gives her first public speech since accepting the position (she joins at 11:18 mark in this video). Credit: Congress for New Urbanism.

Andrés Duany is a founding principal of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. and president of the Center for Applied Transect Studies, which recently received Knight Foundation support for its Project for Lean Urbanism.

Andrés Duany. Credit: Michigan Municipal League.

At last month’s Congress for the New Urbanism in Buffalo, N.Y., the Project for Lean Urbanism introduced its first research products. Over three days, attendees presented 20 draft position papers and case studies. Discussion and debate followed each presentation, to solicit feedback so the authors can refine the drafts, which can be found at Videos of the presentations will soon accompany the papers.