New Knight Foundation Initiative Aims to Inspire Community Action through Technology

MIAMI - Five projects that use technology to help residents take action to strengthen their communities will receive $2.23 million in funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The support is part of Knight’s Technology for Engagement Initiative, launched today to fund new ways to engage people on important local issues.

“Through Tweets, status updates and videos, so many people invest time and energy in making statements online about the issues that matter most to them. These projects aim to harness that energy and turn it into on-the-ground action for bettering communities,” said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

The inaugural projects and recipients include:

Craigslist Foundation ($750,000): to make it easy to find field-tested ways to build community, by creating an idea-sharing website. Institutions, community groups and individuals will tell their success stories on the site and connect with people of like minds.

Jumo ($750,000): to connect people – via a social network – with the issues and organizations that interest them. Started by Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, Jumo is building a network to foster relationships between people and organizations working for global change. The site matches users with relevant organizations, then engages them through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other applications to encourage contributions of time, skills or money.

Code For America ($250,000): to transform city governments across the country by enlisting the nation’s most promising developers to apply Web 2.0 principles to civic problems. Based on the Teach for America model, members will create web applications to help make city governments more transparent, participatory and efficient. Knight Foundation’s funding will ensure the participation of Philadelphia and Boulder, Colo., two Knight communities.

Community PlanIt – Engagement Game Lab, Emerson College ($250,000): to revitalize the community planning process by developing an interactive game platform that lets stakeholders work—and play—together to solve problems. The grant will fund game development, in collaboration with four Knight communities.

CEOS for Cities ($235,000): to test whether residents can help create solutions to local problems, filling a gap left by shrinking municipal budgets. This project will build a crowd-sourcing platform that invites residents to work with their city hall to identify problems and find answers. San Jose, Calif. and Grand Rapids, Mich. will test the idea.

These projects complement Knight Foundation’s focus on fostering informed and engaged communities, said Damian Thorman, Knight Foundation’s national program director.

“As a foundation, we look for new ways to bring people together to act in their community’s interest,” Thorman said.  “Harnessing digital technology is one way to inspire neighbors to work together to solve their most persistent problems.”

Knight Foundation is looking for other high-quality ideas to use technology to inspire local action. For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. 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

About the Craigslist Foundation
Craigslist Foundation is an operating foundation leveraging its experience as a community connector to bring together nonprofit leaders, business, government, philanthropy and community members to take greater responsibility for where they live, play and work. It empowers people to strengthen their communities and neighborhoods by connecting them to the resources they need. For more, visit

About Jumo
Jumo is building a network to foster relationships between individuals and organizations working for global change. Leveraging the power of the participatory web, Jumo will enable individuals to find, connect with and support organizations aligned with their interests. Jumo is founded and directed by Chris Hughes, cofounder of Facebook and director of online organizing for Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign. For more, visit

About Code for America
Code for America (CfA) connects the talent of the tech industry with local governments to make cities more open, responsive, and efficient.
Inspired in part by Teach for America, CfA recruits civic-minded,
tech-savvy individuals to work with industry and governmental leaders to develop innovative applications that can be used in cities across the country. For more, visit

About CEOs for Cities
CEOs for Cities is a civic lab of today's urban leaders catalyzing a 
movement to advance the next generation of great American cities. For more, visit

About the Engagement Game Lab at Emerson College
The Engagement Game Lab is a research lab at Emerson College focused on the development and study of games to enhance urban civic life. Recent projects include Participatory Chinatown, a 3D immersive planning game for Boston's Chinatown, and Hub2, which brought virtual tools and role-play into community deliberation. It resides at Boston's Emerson College, the only four-year private college in the United States devoted to teaching communication and the arts in a liberal arts context. For more, visit

Contact: Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation,

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