New effort to help more Detroiters learn and lead as social innovators

Issue Media Group spearheading Knight Foundation-supported effort to advance Detroit “Urban Innovation Exchange”

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"Championing urban innovation in Detroit" - by Detroit Program Director Rishi Jaitly on Knight Blog

Video: Urban Innovation Exchange

Dec. 2011 Knight Foundation grant to Issue Media Group

DETROIT – March 6, 2012 –A new initiative will help more Detroiters participate in the city’s growing social innovation movement by telling the stories of new leaders, and creating easy opportunities for people to learn about, take part in and lead local efforts.

Whether they are young artists renewing homes in BanglaTown, or entrepreneurs building small businesses in Southwest Detroit, residents are helping to forge a new identity for the city. While Detroit is becoming recognized as a hub for social innovation, this emerging movement remains nascent and inaccessible to many locally. 

The Detroit “Urban Innovation Exchange,” launching March 28 at www.UIXDetroit.com, will report on these transformational, yet small-scale projects making a difference in Detroit, publish stories across a range of media outlets and foster a social network of innovators.  Data will be collected and analyzed to determine what’s working in the way Detroiters are addressing local issues. Through online and offline forums, citizens will be able to learn and connect more productively with one another on social innovation.

Issue Media Group is leading the unique partnership of participating media and community organizations, with $508,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Detroiters are blending entrepreneurship, creative pursuit, and civic action in imaginative ways. But the growth and success of this social innovation movement is too often left to chance. The Urban Innovation Exchange will provide Detroiters the information, learning and networks needed to engage in the city as part of this movement,” said Rishi Jaitly, program director, Detroit, for Knight Foundation.

Media partners involved who will help customize and publish the information include the Detroit Free Press, Huffington Post, Model D, New Michigan Media, Detroit Lives, Thrive Detroit and I Am Young Detroit.

“The Urban Innovation Exchange provides the Detroit Free Press an opportunity to better understand where small-scale transformation and social change are happening,” says Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson. “This insight will help inform our editorial efforts moving forward.”

"I'm delighted that the Urban Innovation Exchange will be partnering with HuffPost Detroit to tell the story of transformation going on in Detroit at the moment,” said Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. "There's no better time than now to double down on our coverage of those who are rising to meet Detroit's many challenges. The Urban Innovation Exchange will help those stories reach even more people – not only those who live in Detroit, but all those who care deeply about this great city's future."

“Detroit’s transformation will not result from one or two significant events but from literally thousands of small-scale efforts,” says Brian Boyle, co-founder of Issue Media Group. “Model D has been profiling these people and projects for the last half-decade, and we look forward to going one step further to create a network for learning and engagement.” 

All of the data and information captured as part of the program will be analyzed by Data Driven Detroit to study characteristics and trends about this small-scale movement. “This initiative represents an opportunity to better understand the little things and individual leaders that play an important role in our city’s future,” says Kurt Metzger, Data Driven Detroit Executive Director.

Watch a video about the project at http://www.UIXDetroit.com.

About Issue Media Group:  

Issue Media Group is a Detroit-based media company that publishes online magazines focusing on growth, investment and remarkable people leading communities into the new economy. Publications include Model D and Metromode in Detroit, PopCity in Pittsburgh, Rapid Growth in Grand Rapids, Capital Gains in Lansing, Concentrate in Ann Arbor, Soapbox in Cincinnati and Bmore in Baltimore. http://www.issuemediagroup.com

About Knight Foundation:

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org

Contacts: Andrew Sherry, Knight Foundation, media@knightfoundation.org, 305-908-2667, or Brian Boyle, Issue Media Group, brian@issuemediagroup.com

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.