The Oval+ on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. Credit: PORT Urbanism, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Building stronger democracies starts with local communities. It is at the local level where we make the decisions that have the most immediate impact on our lives. Knight Foundation's Community and National Initiatives program focuses on supporting more informed and engaged communities through investments that attract and nurture talent, enhance opportunity and foster civic engagement.

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  • Article

    Placing people at the center of San Jose

    August 16, 2018 by Daniel Harris

    Placing people at the center of San Jose

    Photo by Danny Harris.

    As one travels across San Jose’s sprawling 180-square-mile landscape, it’s hard to believe this is America’s tenth most populous city. The low-rise suburban city hosts seemingly endless single-family homes, strip malls, freeways and suburban office parks, but too few vibrant and well-used public spaces that welcome and celebrate our one million residents. 

    In San Jose, Knight seeks to change that by creating one of the nation’s most engaged cities driven by a focus on public life — drawing people out of their cars and homes and into the community. In doing so, we aim to place people at the center of the city’s present and future. By helping to build a San Jose for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, we aim to create a vibrant and welcoming city that makes being out and in public irresistible and celebrates the collision of diverse people and ideas. 

  • Article

    Should platforms be regulated? A new survey says yes.

    August 15, 2018 by Sam Gill

    Should platforms be regulated? A new survey says yes.

    In the two years since the 2016 election, the role major social media and technology companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter play in enabling (or corroding) an informed society has become an issue of increasing concern.

    It is well known at this stage that these platforms are a key destination for news. They regularly make decisions about who gets to provide information and who gets to see it. But as misinformation infects newsfeeds, and information echo chambers become the norm, should there be rules that govern their role as news editors?

    A new survey says yes — almost eight in 10 Americans agree that these companies should be subject to the same rules and regulations as newspapers and television networks that are responsible for the content they publish. The survey is part of a series of reports released by Knight Foundation and Gallup over the course of the year exploring American perceptions of trust, media and democracy.

  • Article

    Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative announces $750,000 challenge on news and information quality

    August 6, 2018 by Tim Hwang and Paul Cheung

    Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative announces $750,000 challenge  on news and information quality

    We’re excited to announce that next month, we will launch an open call for ideas aimed at shaping the influence artificial intelligence (AI) has on the field of news and information. The challenge asks an overarching question: How might we ensure that the use of artificial intelligence in the news ecosystem be done ethically and in the public interest?

  • Article

    Three lessons in designing cities for everyone

    August 6, 2018 by Suzanne Nienaber

    Three lessons in designing cities for everyone

    Photo: A young resident gives their input on shaping civic life in Charlotte at a pop-up event at Eastland Mall. Courtesy of the Center for Active Design. 

    A groundbreaking playbook from the Center for Active Design is sparking conversations among residents on how to shape civic life and create fantastic public spaces in their cities.  

  • Article

    How can democracy thrive in the digital age?

    July 30, 2018 by Sam Gill

    How can democracy thrive in the digital age?

    Photo by ydant on Flickr.

    In the wake of revelations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly used Facebook data to influence the 2016 election, scrutiny of the social media giant continues. In the past month, Facebook has been hit with information requests from an alphabet soup of federal agencies ­— the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

    But the issue is about more than Facebook and has implications beyond breaches and rights to privacy. We’re experiencing a sea change in our relationship to a relatively small set of companies. Just a few brands — Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon — occupy many of our waking hours.

    They are where most of us entertain ourselves. They are where we meet and converse with friends. They are how many of us shop. They are where political debate is happening. The reality is that it’s harder and harder to transact our social, commercial and political lives in any kind of “offline” fashion.

    This matters for our democracy. The way we inform ourselves about public affairs has moved from the morning paper and evening news to a constant stream of mobile alerts. Political debates have shifted from in-person affairs to pseudonymous shouting matches. Our expectations for government and other institutions have shifted to an internet standard — any service that doesn’t deliver with Amazon Prime or Netflix levels of instantaneity is frustrating and obsolete.

  • Article

    Reinventing a 97-year-old science news organization

    July 11, 2018 by Nancy Shute

    Reinventing a 97-year-old science news organization

    Photo by Society for Science & the Public.

    Four years ago, Science News was on the ropes. It was founded by newspaper magnate E.W. Scripps in 1921 to provide accurate news of science, technology and medicine to the general public. But over the past decade, Science News had lost millions of dollars. Print circulation was shrinking, ad sales were dismal, and the organization’s digital operations were starved for resources despite growing audiences.

  • Article

    Four ways cities can use augmented reality games like Pokémon GO to bolster civic engagement

    June 28, 2018 by Sam Gill and Lilian Coral

    Four ways cities can use augmented reality games like Pokémon GO to bolster civic engagement

    Akron, Ohio, residents explore downtown using Pokémon GO. Photo by Tim Fitzwater.

    In summer 2016, Pokémon GO took the world by storm. Large crowds teemed in public spaces around the globe at all hours. We saw a prime opportunity to learn more about how our society, and its ubiquitous digital technology, might further spark public life in the communities where we work.

  • Article

    Speak up for a people-first San José

    June 20, 2018 by Daniel Harris

    Speak up for a people-first San José

    Veggielution First Friday. Photo by Danny Harris on Twitter.

    In San José, Knight seeks to create one of the nation’s most engaged cities. We seek to place people at the center of the city’s present and future. From walkable and bikeable neighborhoods to more user-friendly design of city services to building vibrant public spaces for all, Knight’s work aims to help San Joseans fall in love with and work in support of their city every day.

    To advance these efforts, Knight is launching Speak Up San José, a yearlong initiative that invites all residents for conversation and action to advance our city’s future. Specifically, the foundation is committing $150,000 to sixteen community groups to host 28 events over the coming twelve months. From community dinners to street parties to salons, each event is conceived by local organizations, community groups and neighborhood know-it-alls to advance locally relevant issues. Most importantly, every event is free, open to the public and/or engages a diverse group of individuals, and built around a specific action point.

  • Article

    Philadelphia: Building a stronger city through public spaces

    May 24, 2018 by Patrick J. Morgan

    Philadelphia: Building a stronger city through public spaces

    Photo by Garen M. on Flickr.

    Philadelphia’s public spaces are experiencing a resurgence. From recently opened Lovett Library Park to excitement around the soon to be open Cherry Street Pier, new investments in these community centerpieces have created deeper connections between people and their city and invited a cross-section of residents to participate in building the kind of neighborhoods where they want to live.

  • Article

    Who is watching local TV news? New research provides some surprises

    May 23, 2018 by Karen Rundlet

    Who is watching local TV news? New research provides some surprises

    As Knight Foundation continues to study television news, its role in informing communities, and possibilities for the future, we are also examining data around television audiences. 

    While most people in the U.S. still get their news from TV, the picture is not all rosy. New Knight research published today shows that the TV audience is largely 55+ years, and shrinking, albeit slowly, as more Americans get their news from social media and smartphones. In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported digital news had come even closer to eclipsing TV’s dominance as a news provider. The number of Americans who now get their news online stands at 43 percent, which is just 7 percentage points away from the half of Americans who get their news from broadcast television.

  • Article

    Building Miami’s innovation ecosystem side by side with our community

    March 26, 2018 by Raul Moas

    Building Miami’s innovation ecosystem side by side with our community

    A panorama view of Miami. Used under CC0 Creative Commons from Pixabay.

    We’re proud to be a part of what the Miami community has accomplished in such a small window of time. Miami’s innovation economy is growing. Yet much remains to be achieved. In a spirit of continuous learning, we want to hear from you – those building the future Miami – about what it will take to succeed.

  • Article

    Tune in Monday to a conversation on Twitter, diverse communities and trust in news

    March 21, 2018 by Anusha Alikhan

    Tune in Monday to a conversation on Twitter, diverse communities and trust in news

    A recent Knight Foundation report, produced in collaboration with digital studio Postlight, reveals how subcultures on social media, specifically Black Twitter, Feminist Twitter and Asian-American Twitter, interact with reporters and the news. On March 26, Knight and Postlight will host an event to draw on the themes in the report.

  • Article

    A Smart City puts residents at the center

    March 20, 2018 by Lilian Coral

    A Smart City puts residents at the center

    Technology is changing cities as we know them. From sensors that track pedestrians and control street lights, to the ways local governments deliver information, digital innovation affects how city residents experience everyday life and get and share information.

  • Article

    Harvard University Graduate School of Design to work with Miami community on multi-year resiliency project

    March 20, 2018 by Mohsen Mostafavi

    Harvard University Graduate School of Design to work with Miami community on multi-year resiliency project

    Photos courtesy of Harvard University Graduate School of Design

    To engage Miami residents in creating new approaches to address pressing urban issues—including affordable housing, transportation and sea level rise—Knight Foundation has announced $1 million in support to the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. With the funding, the school will embed urban researchers in Miami and Miami Beach to better understand the cities’ opportunities and challenges, and launch a multi-year study toward building solutions shaped by residents.

  • Article

    Promoting Literacy and Community Engagement in Miami

    March 19, 2018 by Suze Guillaume

    Promoting Literacy and Community Engagement in Miami

    Emerging City Champions is a fellowship program for young civic innovators with bold ideas to enhance public spaces, mobility and civic engagement. Photos: Suze Guillaume and Angelica Walker

    Suze Guillaume is a Miami-based social entrepreneur, author and founder of the Beyond Literacy Pop-Up Project. Below she writes about her experience with the Emerging City Champions program, which is accepting applications for its 2018 class until April 2, 2018.