Knight Blog

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

University Park Alliance takes steps to improving community

June 5, 2012, 2 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

In Akron, the University Park Alliance is working to bring more services and amenities to a 50-block neighborhood in an effort to meet the needs of future residents and create a sense of place in the community.

A recent move by the alliance illustrates a part of its strategy to shore up the neighborhood by buying up local property. 

The alliance recently purchased 12 homes for $180,000 situated along Excelsior Avenue as part of its efforts to rehabilitate houses and stabilize neighborhoods. It worked with community bank Valley Savings Bank to secure the transaction.  

Univeristy Park Alliance's Executive Director Eric Johnson said the move will ensure keeping people in their homes while also bringing in revenue for the alliance.

Three lessons learned in implementing a winning Knight News Challenge project

June 5, 2012, 11:49 a.m., Posted by Jon Vidar

Since the announcement of our Knight News Challenge grant back in June, we at The Tiziano Project have been extremely busy. As an organization, we provide new media journalism training in conflict, post-conflict and underrepresented regions. In the last year, our team has launched programs and partnerships that have brought us to Jerusalem and the West Bank, Latvia, South Los Angeles, Philadelphia and an Apache Indian reservation.

Simultaneously, we are neck deep in the development of our new collaborative storytelling platform that was directly funded through the News Challenge. StoriesFrom will be based on our pilot 360 Kurdistan and will allow organizations and individuals to easily create immersive online experiences that depict the richness of communities worldwide from both local and professional perspectives.

While we still have a long way to go, here are a few lessons we have learned so far:

1) Don't bite off more than you can chew

When we started, we wanted StoriesFrom to do it all: It should display stories in a fun and engaging manner, it should reinvent conversations and how to connect with local communities, it should be a fundraising tool for organizations and individuals, and more. For every component, we had ideas of custom ways for developing more efficient and effective tools than what already exists. 

As development schedules set in however, we quickly realized that we had to pull in the reins a bit and not attempt to reinvent the wheel, sliced bread and mobile computing all at the same time. 

As a team, we decided to focus heavily on the core storytelling experience and to make sure that the site is, first and foremost, a tool that both content producers and content consumers will enjoy using. We will still be incorporating all the things mentioned above, but will leverage many existing tools in the first iteration of the platform and expand as demand for the services grow.


How the Challenge Fund for Journalism helped nonprofits develop better business practices

June 5, 2012, 9:08 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton


Photo Credit Flickr User Steve Bowbrick

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how journalism funders this past decade were working together more often. Here’s an example of that. During the past seven years, we teamed up to help journalism nonprofits develop better business practices in a project called the Challenge Fund for Journalism.

recent study of the Challenge Fund for Journalism showed how the project helped 53 journalism nonprofits, both professional organizations and media outlets.  The fund’s partners were Ford, which created the project, as well as KnightMcCormick, and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism. The management consulting firm TCC Group coordinated the project.

Some organizations, usually the smaller ones, got fundraising and administrative training only. Others got training as well as a grant that they could collect only if they could raise twice as much themselves. That’s like giving away a fish if someone can catch at least two more on their own. Hence, the name of the report on the project: Learning To Fish.  As we’ve said before, the largest amount of philanthropic money given away each year in the United States is donated not by foundations but by individuals. The challenge fund helped nonprofit journalism groups learn to fish where the most of the fish really live.