Money for 150 words

The Knight Foundation's Arts Challenge Philadelphia is taking applications for arts ideas. Grants will help juice the best to reality

Photo caption: In the Fresh Artists studio are (from left) staffer Lauren Gutierrez; cofounder Roger Allen; Donna Frisby-Greenwood, program director, Knight Foundation's Arts Challenge Philadelphia; Sonya Smith, art teacher at Cayuga Elementary School; cofounder Barbara Chandler Allen; and board member Christine James. Fresh Artists trades digitally enlarged student artwork for corporate donations.

To walk into the new East Falls print studio of Fresh Artists - with its state-of-the-art copiers, rows of Mac terminals, even a paid staff member or two - is to see a nonprofit that has graduated to the next level.

That there is a studio at all is an achievement for the organization, the brainchild of Barbara Chandler Allen and her son Roger Allen, which has funneled $150,000 worth of art supplies into Philadelphia public schools by trading digitally enlarged student artwork for donations from corporations and institutions including Comcast, Independence Blue Cross, and Drexel University.

She credits the Knight Foundation and its Arts Challenge Philadelphia for the leap, and the leap of faith.

"We'd still be in our living room if it wasn't for Knight," Allen said recently. "We had the vision. We needed the jet fuel."

All it took, initially, was 150 words. That brief proposal led to a $75,000 grant (which, according to Knight rules, had to be matched with other fund raising - a hurdle that seems much easier when you can say you're a Knight recipient).

Since the Challenge was launched in 2010, the Knight Foundation has awarded $5.4 million to 71 Philadelphia ideas, selected from more than 3,000 applications. Now the deadline is approaching for a third and possibly final round. The seductively simple application - it encourages the hesitant - can be submitted until Oct. 15.

Tell them in 150 words about your idea. Requirements: It must be arts-related, it must be based in or benefit Philadelphia, and you must raise money to match the grant within a year.  


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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