Knight Community Information Challenge

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Knight Community Information Challenge?

A.The Knight Community Information Challenge helps community and place-based foundations have an impact on issues they care about by providing matching funding for news and information projects. Launched as traditional media models began to falter, the challenge encourages local foundations to step in and take a leadership role in ensuring that residents are informed about and engaged in issues important to them.

Each year, the challenge launches an open call for ideas.  In addition the challenge helps foundations get the latest media trends via the Media Learning Seminar, a gathering of foundation, media and tech leaders to explore ways to meet information needs; provides access to Circuit Riders, or technical support to guide grant makers at any stage of a project and ongoing training through the Knight Digital Media Center.

In 2013, the challenge will provide up to $50,000 in seed funding to community and place-based foundations (though open government projects may be considered for larger grants). While the challenge is an open call for all kinds of ideas, preference will be given to Open Government projects, an area in which we see great promise.

Innovators who are looking to test a news and information project in a local community are encouraged to participate, but they must partner with a community or place-based foundation.

Q. How do you define Open Government?

Our definition is broad: We are looking for Open Government projects that improve the way that people and governments interact.

Q. When can my organization apply for the challenge?

A. The application period was open May 1, 2013 and close July 1, 2013.

Q. Who can enter?

A. The challenge is open to all North American community foundations. It is also open to geographically oriented foundations that have a place-based focus similar to a community foundation.

Innovators in media and technology are encouraged to participate, but they must partner with a foundation. Additionally, the foundation must be the official applicant to the challenge. If you fall into this category, please see the FAQ for innovators below.

Q. How do we know if we qualify to apply?

A. The challenge encourages foundations with a clear place-based focus in whole or in part to apply. Consider that place-based foundations are set up to meet core needs of communities. If your foundation does the same, we want to get your proposal.

Q. What are you looking for?

A. Knight is looking for projects that help people be informed about and engaged in the issues important to them. Projects can meet an information need, foster community engagement and or help residents participate in the creation and sharing of news and information. Take a look at our previous winners to see what piqued our interest. We are not wedded to any model of delivering news and information. However, we are looking for models that potentially can be replicated in other cities and towns. Also, in the 2013 challenge, we’ll invite applications specifically focused on Open Government. In this special focus area, we’d expect to see foundations partnering with municipalities and innovators on such projects.

Q. What are you not looking for?

A. This challenge is not about helping community or place-based foundations improve their media relations and marketing, or expand their own Web sites, important as these may be.

Q. What is the application process like?

A. The short, initial application must be completed online. If we like your idea, we'll invite you to complete a full proposal.

Q. Who reviews my entry?

A. Knight staff, augmented by outside reviewers. Final decisions lie with the foundation’s board of trustees

Q. Is there a matching requirement?

A. Yes. We are matching the foundation's commitment to the proposed project. While we recognize the importance of office space, staff time and other in-kind contributions, they are not considered a part of the required match. The match is a cash match.

Q. What constitutes a match?

A. Examples of match documentation include pledge letters, stock transfer certificates, copies of checks and grant letters other than from Knight Foundation. All documentation should state that funds are (a) for the project or (b) to match Knight Foundation’s grant.

Q. At which point must the funding match be made?

A. Generally, we will pay out our portion of the challenge grant once you have submitted documentation of your match.

Q. Is it always a $1 to $1 match?

A. It is our preference. The size of the match varies depending on the circumstances.

Q. Can our idea include funds to help our foundation understand the new media universe?

A. Yes. We know that many foundations do not have deep expertise in this area. Every funded project (winner) receives funding to attend the Knight-sponsored Media Learning Seminar and Boot Camp, which is an intensive training for new challenge grantees.

Q. What if I have several good ideas. Can I submit more than one?

A. You may file multiple applications, but we want only your best ideas.

Q. Where can I find information from the most recent Media Learning Seminar?

A. Videos, breakout reports and presentation handouts are available on the seminar page.

Q. Where may I learn more about past winners?

A. Past winners are posted here on our site.

Q. Who do I contact if I have questions?

A. Send an email to

Questions for Innovators

If you have a news and information project and would like to partner with a community or place-based foundation to implement it, these questions and answers are for you.

Q. What is a community foundation?

A. A community foundation builds permanent collections of endowed funds to benefit a specific geographic community. The foundation also provides leadership on community issues and helps donors meet their philanthropic goals. There are about 700 nationwide.

Q. How do I find my local community or place-based foundation?

A. The Council on Foundations provides a community foundation locator map here.

Q. Whom should I contact at my foundation?

A. It depends on the organization. With a larger foundation, the VP for Programming might be the best fit. In a smaller foundation, the executive director may be the contact. If you are having trouble navigating your foundation, please contact us for help at

Q. How should I approach the foundation?

A. First, do some research. Look at their funding priorities and see if they might be a fit for your project. Then, check to see if they have received Knight funding in the past through the challenge. Once you’ve determined whom to contact, ask for a meeting by suggesting that you have a project that you might be able to partner on to seek Knight Foundation funding, and that together you can have an impact on issues you both care about.

Q. How is this contest different from the Knight News Challenge?

A. The Knight Community Information Challenge puts a focus on community impact rather than innovation. The applicant also must be a community or place-based foundation, though they are encouraged to partner with innovations in media and technology.