Knight Arts Challenge


Knight Arts Challenge Detroit Frequently Asked Questions

The Knight Arts Challenge Detroit is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We are seeking the most innovative cultural ideas to engage and enrich Detroit communities.

What’s the deadline for submitting an application?

The application period will be open April 4 - 11:59 p.m. May 2, 2016.

When will winners be announced?

The fall of 2016.

What are the rules?

There are three rules:

1) The project must be about art;

2) It must take place in or benefit Detroit;

3) You must find other funding to match the Knight Foundation grant.

Can only nonprofit organizations or educational institutions apply?

The challenge is open to nonprofits, companies and individuals.  In short – anyone can apply.

Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?

No. This contest is open to applicants of all nationalities.

Do you have to be at least 18 years old to apply?

No, but if a minor wins, the award will be made to his or her parents or legal guardian. A grant could also go to an organization that agrees to work with individuals under 18 without charge.

Do I or my organization have to be based in Detroit?

You are eligible if the program or project will take place in Detroit, or if it takes place outside of Detroit but benefits the arts in Detroit.

How soon will we hear back with a decision on our applications?

You will be contacted via email in the summer of 2016 with either an invitation to submit a full proposal or with the decision to decline your application.

If my proposal is not accepted, will I know why?

Due to the large number of applications we receive, we cannot provide individual comments from the reviewers. As such, we cannot share with you exact reasons for your project being declined.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Send questions to

What’s the difference between the application and a “full proposal?”

The initial, 150-word application gives us just enough summary information to understand your idea. If we choose it as a finalist, we will invite you to write a more detailed proposal.

How many applications may I submit?

There is no limit. Each application should be for a different project, of course.

What’s considered ART?

Good question. There are many definitions, but we like this one: The conscious use of skill and creative imagination. We are not looking for social projects that utilize art to achieve their goal. We are seeking projects that strive to create good, high quality art in our community.

How can I gain an edge in my application?

Innovation is welcome. We also look at whether the applicant has the know-how to get the project done.

That said, if you or your group are in need of a breakout push, go ahead and apply; it might be the right time for that push. Ultimately, the best “edge” is to have a really great art idea.

How do I know if my proposal fits your idea about art or innovation?

Test it out. It only takes about 20 minutes to offer your idea.

What’s a “challenge grant?”

A challenge grant invites others to step up to the plate, by requiring other members of the community (private foundations, individual donors, etc.) to match Knight Foundation’s own funding.

In other words, a grant intended to bring others into the funding of a project. That’s why this is called the Knight Arts Challenge. We’re stepping up to the plate, but we invite – and require – others to join.

What do you mean by “find other funding to match” the foundation’s gift?

In order to have the greatest impact in our community, we’re going to commit our $9 million to motivate others to add their financial support for the arts. The concept is simple: if the project will cost a total of $10,000, then you must find at least $5,000 from somewhere else, as the foundation’s maximum contribution will be $5,000. (This is only an example to demonstrate how matching funds work. There is no pre-set maximum contribution from the foundation.)

Can the matching funds be my own money or existing money from within my organization?

No. We’re seeking new money for the arts. That means you need to get others to put up funds just like ours. Generally, only cash contributions from new sources to your organization or project will count toward the match.

At which point must the funding match be made?

You will have approximately one year from the time you receive the grant to match our funding.  If it is a multi-year project, you will have about a year to match each year’s grant amount.

Is it always a $1 to $1 match?

Generally, yes.  Under rare circumstances (and generally for very small groups) we will consider matching at a higher level. Likewise, we might require a larger outside contribution for every dollar we put in if your organization already enjoys solid financial support.

Will you also fund a for-profit company, not just nonprofits or individuals?

Yes, we will, if we find a company with a transformational idea for improving the community through the arts.

Who reviews my entry?

Knight staff, with the aid of independent arts experts. Ultimately, the final decision lies with Knight Foundation’s board of trustees.