Knight Blog

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

Participating in today’s public square

March 27, 2012, 12:04 p.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly

Mt. Elliott Makerspace, one of the nine projects receiving support from Knight in partnership with CEOs for Cities for accelerating citizen participation across the Detroit

When was the last time you visited your town square?

While many of us in the engagement field often wax poetically about the “public square,” and the importance of engagement in it, most of our towns actually consist of a range of smaller squares, spaces, and contexts through which we engage. And in our digital age, the list of venues is endless.

This is especially true in Detroit, where citizens are participating in contemporary public life in bold ways, bringing together the best of entrepreneurship, creativity and civic action. It’s why we at Knight Foundation invest in projects that allow more people to engage, support, and partner with the city’s growing movement of social entrepreneurship.

Today, along with CEOs for Cities, we’re excited to announce a range of grants to nine organizations that are accelerating citizen participation across the city in creative, modern ways.  I’m thrilled to see the kind of engagement and impact these initiatives will propel in courses and at restaurants, through contests and city maps, and on the Internet and new “makerspaces.”

Knights Arts Challenge Miami apps illustrate growth of city's arts community

March 27, 2012, 7:21 a.m., Posted by Tatiana Hernandez


Thank you, Miami. As of last week’s deadline, we received more than 1,000 applications to this year’s Knight Arts Challenge Miami - which shows just how much this city’s arts community has grown both in numbers and creativity.

We started the Knight Arts Challenge as a way to inspire boldness, innovation and creativity. After five years, it’s clear: we live in a community full of talented and passionate people, and you can feel it everywhere. It takes a full range of engagement – from artist to audience, amateur to adventurer – to make art general in a community. Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum, you are integral to the experience of art. What we do as a community, we do together.

For the first time this year, too, as a way to fully represent the diversity of our community, we began accepting applications in both Spanish and Kreyol. We got a great response, receiving several dozen applications in these languages (Gracias! Di ou mèsi!),

New resources help communities become more digitally inclusive

March 26, 2012, 4:23 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller



Photo Credit: Flickr user wvs

A new set of resources will help communities become more digitally inclusive places to live. An estimated 100 million Americans lack a broadband connection at home, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to schooling, job searching and more.

As access to broadband becomes increasingly important, communities are looking to develop technology plans that address the needs of all its residents.

recently released report is designed to help communities address these issues. It identifies specific areas where communities may want to focus their digital inclusion efforts, for example in economic and workforce development, education and digital literacy. It also provides strategies that organizations and individuals can use to help them implement these efforts.

Building Digital Communities: A Framework for Action” acknowledges that every community needs to take its own path to becoming digitally inclusive, depending on its own unique assets, needs and the structure of its institutions. As an accompaniment to the report, the Institute for Museum and Library Services also released a guide which explains possible pathways to digital inclusion.

The accompanying guide, is a toolkit intended to help galvanize community conversation and actions specifically around increasing broadband adoption. “Building Digital Communities: Getting Started,” offers key steps for communities on how they can get started with respect to initiating a community action plan, finding ways to carry out a plan, and how to evaluate it moving forward.

The report and guide are the culmination of 18 months of research done by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, together with the University of Washington and the International City/County Management Association. The organizations consulted with hundreds of community members and experts to identify the action steps and frameworks around how to build digital communities.

Judith Kleinberg, program director for San Jose/Silicon Valley at Knight Foundation, was a member of the national team that worked on the development of the report over many months, helping to anlayze and edit the drafts as it evolved into its final form. Kleinberg said she hopes the report will be an important tool for helping communities increase their levels of digital access: