2016 Emerging City Champions Fellowship offers young civic innovators funding, mentorship and networking opportunities

8 80 Cities will help civic leaders build more successful cities with $1.4 million from Knight Foundation

MIAMI—March 21, 2016—8 80 Cities, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming cities, will invite applications from civic innovators with ideas to strengthen urban mobility, improve public spaces and enhance civic engagement in their cities. Applications open on March 28. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is providing $1.4 million in new funding to 8 80 Cities to support the Emerging City Champions Fellowship, as well as city learning tours, workshops and residencies for leaders from the 26 communities where Knight invests.

The Emerging City Champions Fellowship is open to anyone who meets the following criteria:

  1. They must be between the ages of 19-35.
  2. The project must take place in or benefit one of the 26 communities where Knight invests.
  3. Projects must contribute to improved urban mobility or public space.
  4. Applications must include a multimedia submission that describes their project.

The Emerging City Champions online application period will be open from March 28 to April 15, 2016. Visit emergingcitychampions.org for more information and to apply.

The fellowship will equip 20 young leaders with the skills and support they need to make an immediate and lasting impact in their communities. Successful applicants will be invited to attend the Emerging City Champions Studio in June 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The studio will include a four-day workshop that will help champions develop and refine their project and plans. They will also receive ongoing professional support and $5,000 to implement their project within one year.

Launched in 2015 with Knight Foundation support, the Emerging City Champions Fellowship is in its second year. In 2015, participants implemented 25 projects, including pop-up public spaces, murals, neighborhood tours, community storytelling programs and a new bicycle advocacy organization.

“In just one year, the 2015 champions broke down community barriers and built new programs, organizations and temporary infrastructure that brought neighbors together,” said Emily Munroe, executive director of 8 80 Cities. “These projects had major impacts on the way people interact with each other and their surroundings. We look forward to supporting this next group of champions to create even more positive change.”

In addition to supporting the Emerging City Champions Fellowships, Knight Foundation funding will build on the success of earlier investments in 8 80 Cities. These opportunities will expose participants, from inside and outside local government, to best practices in using public space to build more vibrant cities. They include:

Study tours: 8 80 Cities will host study tours in Copenhagen, Denmark, for civic leaders, elected officials and others, for the third year. Participants will explore world-class cycling, walking and connected public spaces in Copenhagen and learn how the city measures and improves neighborhood life.

8 80 Cities residency program: Gil Penalosa, the founder of 8 80 Cities, and his staff will organize weeklong residencies in communities where Knight invests. Through presentations, workshops and other activities, the program will inspire civic leaders, elected officials and local residents to create community networks focused on walking, cycling and public spaces. The residency program was hosted in Akron, Ohio, Charlotte, N.C., Detroit and Macon, Ga., in 2015.

“Through this work we hope to introduce best practices in building public spaces from across the world to leaders in Knight communities,” said Benjamin de la Peña, Knight Foundation director of community and national strategy. “In addition, we will continue to grow a network of civic innovators, across sectors and organizations, that will encourage the sharing of ideas and innovations between communities.”

In 2015, Knight Foundation captured key lessons from its investments in 8 80 Cities in a guide to livable cities. The lessons show that cities promote civic engagement by building public spaces that improve neighborhood life. 880 Cities also released the Doable Cities Reader in 2014, as a resource to help people kick-start change in their communities.

The 26 Knight cities include eight communities that have a resident program director: Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Macon, Ga.; Miami; Philadelphia; St. Paul, Minn.; and San Jose, Calif. In 18 cities community foundations guide Knight’s investments: Aberdeen, S.D.; Biloxi, Miss.; Boulder, Colo.; Bradenton, Fla.; Columbia, S.C.; Columbus, Ga.; Duluth, Minn.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Gary, Ind.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Lexington, Ky.; Long Beach, Calif.; Milledgeville, Ga.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; State College, Penn.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Wichita, Kan.

For more information on 8 80 Cities visit: 880cities.org. To apply to the Emerging City Champions Fellowship visit emergingcitychampions.org by April 15, 2016.

About 8 80 Cities
8 80 Cities is a nonprofit organization based in Toronto, Canada. We are dedicated to contributing to the transformation of cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places. Our approach is to engage people and communities across multiple sectors to inspire the creation of cities that are easily accessible, safe and enjoyable for all. We achieve our mission through grant projects, advocacy work and our innovative services.

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. knightfoundation.org.


Emily Munroe, Executive Director, 8 80 Cities, 416-591-7404 or emunroe@8-80cities.org

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, media@knightfoundation.org

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 www.knightfoundation.org.