San Jose organizations to connect residents, help city keep and attract talented workers with $1 million boost from Knight Foundation

Press Release

December 9, 2015


SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Dec. 9, 2015 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced more than $1 million in new funding to 15 projects aimed at engaging San Jose residents in community life, breaking down divides between residents and creating incentives for talented people to live and stay in the city.

Led by a range of community development organizations, many of the projects focus on building a more vibrant downtown area, while creating more options for residents to participate in local decision-making. The projects are aimed at tackling some of San Jose’s most pressing challenges from supporting more affordable and accessible housing, to connecting people across income levels and backgrounds. They also include ideas that advance small business growth and encourage residents to experiment with new ideas to make their community better.

“These investments are focused on opening new pathways to citizen engagement and action in San Jose,” said Danny Harris, Knight Foundation program director for San Jose. “They offer civic innovators the chance to contribute and help take hold of the future of their city, while creating the quality of life incentives intended to ensure that talented workers make San Jose their home.”

The organizations receiving support include:

  • California Walks ($30,000): Encouraging deeper resident attachment to San Jose by launching Walk San Jose, a program that encourages urban exploration and celebrates neighborhoods through walking tours.
  • City of San Jose, Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services ($150,000): Helping to improve public spaces in San Jose through a “Parks Activation and Prototyping Fund” that will allow residents to experiment with new ways to use parks.
  • City of San Jose, Office of Economic Development ($125,000):  Launching a branding and marketing campaign to attract talented workers, create jobs and bring new opportunities to the city.
  • Exhibition District ($20,000): Creating a more vibrant and connected San Jose by expanding the Exhibition District, a public art project.
  • Garden to Table ($60,000): Creating a food and community hub at Taylor Street Farm that will include events, workshops and market days, while supporting local food producers and suppliers.
  • Groundswell Design Group ($75,000):  Creating a pop-up park at Plaza Cesar Chavez that aims to transform an underused space into a vibrant and engaging public area.
  • Local Label ($48,958): Launching a citywide competition to create and promote new branding opportunities for San Jose developed by teams of local artisans and makers.
  • National Arts Strategies ($30,000):  Supporting a group of San Jose Creative Community Fellows through a nine-month fellowship program focused on creative placemaking.
  • Opportunity Fund ($75,000): Helping Downtown San Jose's small businesses (particularly restaurants and retail) comply with EMV chip requirements, a new standard for credit card and debit card payments, by subsidizing the equipment.
  • San Jose State University ($240,000): Developing a more vibrant and connected San Jose with the launch of a prototyping festival along Paseo de San Antonio, a lecture series, an artist-in-residence program and new activities at the Hammer Theatre.
  • School at Mexican Heritage Plaza ($10,800): Connecting people and increasing civic participation by launching ImagineSJ, a monthly event and panel discussion focusing on San Jose’s arts and cultural scene.
  • Silicon Valley DeBug/NEEBA ($30,000): Creating a “We are San Jose” video series to share the city’s dynamic and diverse neighborhoods and communities.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Education ($35,000): Supporting research, analysis and reporting focused on developing ways to connect and grow the city’s food ecosystem.
  • Somos Mayfair ($21,280): Helping people get more involved in shaping their community through Mayfair Community Mini-Grants that will invite residents to develop innovative ideas to make their community better while introducing them to local decision-making techniques and budgeting.
  • Transform ($100,000): Supporting more affordable and transportation-friendly housing by creating tools and traffic reduction strategies as part of GreenTRIP, a green building certification program for new residential, mixed-use development.

Funding for these projects forms one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to support the urbanization of a traditionally sprawling city with a specific focus on Central San Jose and how the city’s core can attract and retain talent, expand opportunity and build a culture of civic engagement. Since 2008, Knight Foundation has invested more than $19 million in San Jose, including a recent $1.7 million for nonprofit SPUR’s efforts to propel the city’s suburban-to-urban transformation and a $630,000 investment in the arts.

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,

Contact: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]