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

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    Join Code for Miami to Hack for Change

    May 24, 2016, noon, Posted by Rebekah Monson

    Above: Hack for Change 2015, at The LAB Miami. Photo courtesy Code for Miami.

    Video: Code for Miami on YouTube.

    Rebekah Monson is co-organizer of Code for Miami, which Knight Foundation supports to expand economic opportunity and promote civic engagement.

    Developers, designers, government staff, community organizers and civic-minded volunteers in Miami will join Code for Miami and thousands of volunteers throughout the United States on Saturday, June 4, for National Day of Civic Hacking, or Hack for Change, an annual event that asks volunteers to hack their communities.

    Miami’s fourth annual Hack for Change event, held at The Idea Center at Miami-Dade College will include national and local challenges, with projects about housing affordability, climate change, social services referrals, and open data from Miami-Dade County. Code for Miami is collecting and organizing local project pitches now via Github and the Code for Miami Slack group.The event is sponsored by Knight Foundation.

    People with all skill sets are invited to contribute at Hack for Change, said Code for Miami organizer Danielle Ungermann. “We need more than just coders to make these projects great,” she said. “People who can write well, those who know their communities well, designers and anyone who wants to make Miami-Dade County better are welcome.”

    Hack for Change participants provide valuable insight and prototypes for community organizations and government agencies. In previous years, projects have included visualizing data for the Florida Department of Financial Services and Miami-Dade County 311, building prototype notification apps for the Red Cross, and mapping and analyzing data from various federal agencies.

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    Miami boot camp will help entrepreneurs from underserved communities cross the digital divide

    May 24, 2016, 9 a.m., Posted by Carlos Vasquez

    Above: EcoTech coding graduation, November 2015.

    Carlos Vazquez is director of the Digital Citizen Bootcamp at EcoTech Visions, which Knight Foundation supports to foster talent and promote economic opportunity. Today Knight is announcing $200,000 in support for the program to offer entrepreneurship and tech training to underserved Miami-Dade communities.

    For most Americans over 12, a mobile phone is as important as a wallet or purse. They use it for business, socializing and extending themselves beyond the physical boundaries of where they work, live and learn. Advances in information technology and communication – including the invention and enhancement of tools that simplify creation of online content have led to increased participation in the digital economy.

    This trend can be seen throughout the country, and South Florida has felt this surge throughout various communities. Unfortunately, some individuals have been left behind. There exists a digital divide – a separation that keeps certain individuals, specifically from lower socio-economic status, from accessing the digital economy due to lack of exposure and training in the use of technology. The mission of the Digital Citizen Bootcamp at EcoTech Visions is to close that gap for the Liberty City community and beyond.

    Tech entrepreneur Birame Sock mentors first cohort Coding Bootcamp student Jemiah Suis. Photo by Justin Knight.  

    Located in northwestern Miami-Dade County, Liberty City often feels disconnected from other communities. Eighty-four percent of its 40,000 residents are African-American, and the median family income is half of that for Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida. Unfortunately, for communities such as Liberty City, there exists a disconnect between their online worlds and their ability to participate actively as creators and producers of content. Why does this digital divide continue to exist and what is the economic and social impact? What can we do to close this gap over the next 10 years?

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  • Arts

    Independent cinema finds a new home in Saint Paul

    May 18, 2016, 12:53 p.m., Posted by Ira Brooker

    Above: The Qhia Dab Neeg film festival in St. Paul. Photo courtesy Qhia Dag Neeb.

    Cinema in St. Paul has a checkered history of late. While the city can claim a couple of small mainstream movie houses and a smattering of other occasional screening venues, it’s been a long while since locals had an art house theater to call their own. The April launch of Film Space, a Knight-funded cinema venue on the Metropolitan State University campus, marked a strong new effort to fill the void.

    “Film Space is a 300-seat, state-of-the-art, DCI-compliant, digital cinema theater. It is a dedicated, non-commercial, film art venue for our community,” said James Byrne, project manager for Film Space and coordinator of Metro State’s Screenwriting Program. Byrne and the Film Space team have spent much of the last year upgrading a rarely used campus auditorium into a functional and inviting space to serve the long-neglected cinephiles of St. Paul.

    Currently the space is focused on special events and screenings, with non-profit rental rates available to community members, individual filmmakers and festivals. Even though the venue is freshly launched, the organizers have wasted no time putting it to use. “April-May was and is a big month for us,” Byrne said. “We had eight days of films and screened 12 feature films and 28 short films and hosted three different festivals.”

    Film Space opened big, with a well-attended, five-day showcase of movies as an official venue of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF), the Upper Midwest’s largest and longest-running festival of its kind. Byrne even got to host a home-theater screening of his own film, “Mist on the River,” as part of the festival’s short films showcase. The engagement was followed immediately by the Qhia Dab Neeg Film Festival, a Knight-funded project focused on filmmakers of Hmong descent that drew more than 500 attendees over two days. Next up is LunaFest, a nationally touring festival spotlighting women in film that rolls into Film Space on May 20.

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