By Ben Gose
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is committing nearly $10-million in new money to continue to nudge community foundations to support projects that help meet local information needs.
The foundation started the Knight Community Information Challenge five years ago, and so far it has spent $24-million on matching grants to local foundations that improve news and information-gathering in their cities.
This morning, Knight’s president, Alberto Ibargüen, announced that the foundation would spend another $9.5-million on the contest over the next three years. He shared the news at an annual meeting that Knight hosts in Miami, where community-foundation leaders meet with journalism and technology experts to discuss community-information needs.
When Knight started the challenge, few community foundations were focused on newsgathering. But Bahia Ramos Synnott, a program director who oversees the Community Information Challenge, says Knight has seen a big shift in the past five years. The grant competition has received applications from over 400 community foundations, more than half the nation’s total.
Successful applicants are expected to match Knight’s contribution to the winning projects, but the community foundations have far exceeded that requirement, raising a total of nearly $59-million, she says.
“The market has responded to our call,” Ms. Ramos Synnott says. “Community foundations have stepped up to lead on this issue.”
Knight puts few restrictions on the kinds of projects it will support. Last week, the foundation released a report that featured four case studies from the competition. The report said successful projects have focused on a specific audience, promoted community dialogue, and invested time and money to build their brands.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.