Knight Blog

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

You've got data - now what? Ask SchoolFactsJax

Dec. 13, 2012, 2:50 p.m., Posted by Lisa Williams

What do people really want from your data?  

These days, data -- data visualization, data journalism, and data-driven civic apps -- are the new black.  There are hackathonsnational data challengesgrant programs, and groups putting coders to work on behalf of cities.  

There's also more publicly available data than ever before -- the repository of public data from the federal government has 378,000 data sets.  The World Bank has more.  Cities from Ann Arbor, Mich. to Paris are setting up public, online repositories of data about civic life from spending to law enforcement to education.  

But what does the average citizen actually want out of all that data?  What's going to help them have a better life, or be a better citizen?  

Jason Rose at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund got an in-depth look at this question as he developed SchoolFactsJax, a website that attempts to make the data on Duval County's public schools accessible to everybody with a web browser.  

When I asked him what he'd recommend to organizations with similar aims, he said: "The first thing I would say is to take the time up front to really understand the data and what it is your audience needs or wants to know from it.  One of the unique issues of working with education data is that there is typically more performance information available than anyone knows what to do with."

Rose and the team at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund decreased their knowledge gap by spending a lot of time with stakeholders directly: "Over the year or so we spent working to launch the first phase of School Facts Jax, the majority of it was spent gathering input from different audiences and partners on what questions people most wanted to be able to answer about our local schools, what the best data points would be to answer those questions, and what was the best way to present that information to make it both accessible and meaningful to our audiences."

Art meets tech in new Miami co-working space

Dec. 13, 2012, 9:48 a.m., Posted by Matt Haggman

HackDay Miami from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Earlier this year, when we announced Knight Foundation’s push to increase community engagement by strengthening Miami’s startup community, we said the effort builds upon our ongoing work in the arts.

Now, that’s literally the case.

Knight Foundation is investing $250,000 into a new co-working space in Miami’s Wynwood arts district that will be adjacent to – literally sharing a wall with – the Knight-funded community arts center, Light Box at Goldman Warehouse.

Called The LAB Miami, the 10,000-square-foot facility is set to open early next year. The facility will serve as a co-working space, but also have classes, events and offer in-house mentors to entrepreneurs and innovators of all kinds.

The opening of the new co-working facility is another illustration of the rapid growth in Miami’s emerging startup community.  


New Orleans news site, The Lens, approved for nonprofit status

Dec. 13, 2012, 9:14 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

The following is cross-posted from the Knight Digital Media Center's blog.

The Lens, an investigative news organization serving New Orleans, has been granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status by the IRS after a 26-month wait.

"This IRS  declaration marks a new chapter in the life of The Lens," Karen Gadbois, co-founder, said. The organization will celebrate its third anniversary on Jan. 18.

The designation makes it easier for The Lens to raise money from foundations and tax-deductible donations.

The Lens was one of a number of nonprofit news start ups undergoing lengthy reviews by the IRS, and this prompted a review by the Council on Foundations since more and more foundations are interested in supporting local news start ups. Earlier this year, the San Francisco Public Press received its designation after a 32-month wait.