Now more than ever, communities need quality information to make decisions about the issues they care about. The Knight Community Information Lab will help foundations get to the heart of the information gaps in their community – and use human-centered design training to develop long-term solutions with the input of local residents.
A decade ago, as the disruptions of the digital age began to dramatically affect communities and newsrooms, Knight Foundation began to offer matching grants to encourage place-based funders to take a leadership role in meeting local information needs. What kind of local news and information were people receiving – and missing? What gaps needed to be filled? Knight Foundation provided $22 million to 88 foundations addressing these issues with a range of projects from digital literacy campaigns to support for the first generation of local nonprofit news sites, and more.
While many of these projects were successful, some were more short-term. The Knight Community Information Lab builds on the progress of that initiative, by using human-centered design to create long-term solutions. The process helps foundations at a very critical stage – as they begin to identify an information need, but before they decide on a solution.
Over 18 months, the lab will take four community and place-based foundations looking to address their local information needs through human-centered design training. During this process, they will learn the methods and tools that will help them better understand residents and their needs, then prototype, adjust and implement solutions. This is a new way of funding community and place-based foundations for Knight Foundation. Instead of supporting a specific news and information project, Knight is helping foundations take a few steps back to discover and design an approach that is right for their community.
Knight tested this approach with four foundations – large and small – in recent years. As a result, each of these Knight Community Information Ambassadors found that human-centered design training taught them how to work with people in their community to best create projects that solve complex issues—projects that residents embraced.
The lab’s effect for a foundation can be much broader. The training will help foundations understand and engage their communities at a deeper level. Ultimately, foundations will be able to use these skills to address any other issue their communities are facing.
Knight is looking for community and place-based foundations that have:
If you have questions, please contact Michelle Huttenhoff at [email protected].