Community foundations to gain digital skills through Knight Digital Media Center training

USC-based center expands focus with new Knight Foundation funding

Related

"Helping foundations meet community info needs" by Bahia Ramos Synnott on Knight Blog

NEW ORLEANS – (Sept. 10, 2012) – USC Annenberg’s Knight Digital Media Center will expand its reach into communities by helping locally focused foundations meet community information needs, with new support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Building on the center’s expertise in guiding news start-ups, the center will help foundations develop digital strategies – which will include news and information projects – to inform and interact with their constituencies.

 The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will provide the center with $1.66 million in support as part of the Knight Community Information Challenge, which engages community and place-based foundations in supporting news and information projects.

The center and Knight Foundation announced the effort at the Council on Foundations’ Fall conference where the center hosted a workshop for foundation leaders on digital strategies.

 “Our hope is to be a resource for community foundations who want to do more to meet the information needs of their communities. We’ll be helping them identify those needs and provide strategies for meeting them,” said Vikki Porter, director of the Knight Digital Media Center.

“More and more, funders realize how important good information is to making an impact on the issues they care about. The Knight Digital Media Center is committed to helping community foundations acquire the skills that will make them successful,” said Trabian Shorters, vice president for communities at Knight Foundation.

The center will offer:

  • A redesigned website with expanded resources and self-directed modules for foundation projects as well as news entrepreneurs;

  • An annual “boot camp” for Knight challenge grantees focused on project startup skills;

  • Coaching for new and current Knight challenge grantees:

  • Virtual classes for Knight challenge grantees as well as other foundation project leaders;

  • Regional seminars on digital strategies for local foundation CEOs and organization leaders;

  • Workshops on business skills essential to startups’ success and sustainability.

The news and information projects supported by the center could include hyperlocal news sites or informational websites, but won’t be limited to those kinds of programs, Porter said.

The center’s expanded mission fits perfectly with that of USC Annenberg, said School of Journalism director Geneva Overholser.

 “We’re now understanding that healthy communities rely on a good flow of reliable information. And community leaders and citizens are going to play a role to ensure that the flow continues,” Overholser said. “We’ll now be training more community-based outlets and foundation leaders to come up with projects that they believe meet the information needs of their communities. So I think that’s extremely smart, and it really fits with our own emphasis in the journalism school on community engagement.”

About the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers doctoral, master's and bachelor's degree programs, as well as continuing development programs for working professionals across a broad scope of academic inquiry. The school's comprehensive curriculum emphasizes the core skills of leadership, innovation, service and entrepreneurship and draws upon the resources of a networked university located in the media capital of the world.

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. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org.

Contact: Andrew Sherry, vice president/communications, 305-908-2677; 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.