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.

Read More
Featured
  • Article

    Four ways cities can make great urban trails: Lessons from the Beltline

    August 24, 2018 by Lilly Weinberg

    Four ways cities can make great urban trails: Lessons from the Beltline

    Photo by J.C. Burns on Flickr.

    Cities across the country – big and small – are investing in linear parks and urban trails. Communities are prioritizing these important and substantial investments for a variety of important reasons: they effectively connect public assets - like parks and libraries - with diverse neighborhoods; activate underused spaces (think New York City’s High Line crafted from a former rail line); and spur economic development in nearby areas.

    But designing, promoting and funding linear parks can be challenging, often spanning miles of multiple municipalities, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, with support from complicated funding models. 

    So, what happens when three unique cities get together to talk about their signature linear parks and trails? A whole lot of learning. Knight Foundation funded an information exchange between two Knight cities, Lexington, Ky. and Miami, and Atlanta to do just that . Last month, a team from The Friends of The Underline (a 10-mile linear path in Miami-Dade) and Townbranch Commons (a 3-mile linear trail and park in downtown Lexington) met in Atlanta to have a deep-dive exchange about their future projects with the city’s Beltline team. As many know, Atlanta’s Beltline is a multi-billion dollar, 22-mile light rail and bike/pedestrian trail that has transformed the communities it passes through. While most community members love their Beltline, not everyone is thrilled. We wanted to hear it all: the good, bad and indifferent. And while we came from very different communities with unique projects, we had four shared takeaways.

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

  • Article

    Helping build cities for and by people

    March 13, 2018 by Chad Rochkind

    Helping build cities for and by people

    Emerging City Champions is a fellowship program for young civic innovators with bold ideas to enhance public spaces, mobility and civic engagement. Photo provided by Chad Rochkind.

    Chad Rochkind is the founder of Human Scale Studio, an Emerging City Champion and a Knight Cities Challenge winner. Below he writes about his experience with the Emerging City Champions program, which is accepting applications for its 2018 class until April 2, 2018.

  • Article

    Trust in news, misinformation and new media models top agenda at Knight Media Forum

    February 27, 2018 by Marika Lynch

    Trust in news, misinformation and new media models top agenda at Knight Media Forum

    Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO O'Reilly Media, and Emmett Carson, founding CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation onstage at the Knight Media Forum 2018. Photo: Angel Valentin

    As far as trust in the media is concerned, the 21st century is off to a bumpy start. As bots proliferate, attacks on a free press continue and the average person finds it difficult to separate fact from fiction, trust in American news sources is sinking to new lows. Just how the media can regain trust was at the heart of the conversation at the Knight Media Forum, a gathering of leaders in philanthropy, media and technology working to strengthen local news and communities.

  • Article

    This newsroom used On the Table as an experiment in audience engagement

    February 26, 2018 by Sandra Shea

    This newsroom used On the Table as an experiment in audience engagement

    Sandra Shea is the managing editor, Opinion, for the Philadelphia Media Network. Below, she writes about the Philadelphia Media Network's experience with On the Table in 2017. Today, Knight Foundation is announcing a $2 million re-investment in the On the Table initiative to connect neighbors over mealtime conversations in cities.

  • Article

    Three things community foundations learned from On the Table

    February 26, 2018 by Lilly Weinberg

    Three things community foundations learned from On the Table

    A 2017 On the Table discussion in Charlotte, N.C. Photo courtesy of Foundation for the Carolinas.

    Today, Knight Foundation is announcing a $2 million reinvestment in the On the Table initiative to connect neighbors over mealtime conversations in cities.

  • Article

    Citizen Detroit: Helping residents set the agenda for change

    February 22, 2018 by Sheila Cockrel

    Citizen Detroit: Helping residents set the agenda for change

    CitizenDetroit's Citizen Assembly.

    Sheila Cockrel is co-founder and executive director for CitizenDetroit, an independent nonprofit that organizes and activates engaged citizens in the democratic process. Citizen Detroit is receiving $1.5 million in new support from Knight Foundation.