Knight Foundation Announces 126 Finalists for Cities Challenge


Out of thousands of applications, the Knight Foundation has announced 126 finalists for its cities challenge. The cities challenge is a competition supported by the foundation to build better cities in the US. This is the latest in a series of challenges aimed at civic engagement, better news, and technological innovation offered by Knight throughout each year.

The 126 finalists will be asked to submit more detailed information about their initial proposals, while judges work to whittle the list. According to a blog post about the challenge from the Knight Foundation – “Each of the 26 Knight communities had at least one applicant named as a finalist, and Detroit had the largest number of applicants: 1,365! Detroit also had the largest number of finalists: 25.”

Through the process a handful of common themes have emerged — bringing public life back to public spaces, supporting the urban economy, improving civic engagement, building bridges between different community groups, and improving civic spaces like parks and libraries.

Reviewers will be examining how well proposals grow cities, provide learning opportunities, are financially sustainable, and provide real innovation.

As with other Knight challenges, some projects may still receive funding even if they aren’t chosen as a challenge winner. Those chosen for greater review have three weeks to provide information – winners will be finalized shortly thereafter with awards going out around April 1, 2015.

The full slate of finalists is in this blog post. A handful of selections are included below.

Charlotte, N.C.
21st Century Office Access in Charlotte and Beyond by Charlotte Center City Partners (Submitted by Allison Billings): Opening up underused office space in the city to startups and small-scale entrepreneurs through an online platform and creating a model for a business space cooperative that would give companies the flexibility to expand to untested markets or to grow or shrink their workforce according to demand.

Detroit, MI
The Chain Link Kit (Submitted by Claire Nelson): Creating a how-to guide to transform the ubiquitous and unsightly fence into galleries, gardens and grids while promoting community connections.

Grand Forks, N.D.
Social Capital Investment Bank (Submitted by Pete Haga): Helping community changemakers by creating a social capital bank where volunteers lend time and expertise to launch projects and businesses.

Macon, GA
Make It Happen in Macon Community Venture Capital Fund (Submitted by Lakey Boyd): Providing seed funding for businesses, causes and projects every month by having residents vote online to select five top ideas that will be presented in a forum where community judges will make final selections.

Philadelphia, PA
Every Street in Philadelphia (Submitted by Jacob Winterstein and Ryan Briggs): Promoting livable cities by having an artist and a journalist cycle the city’s 2,600 miles of streets and engage residents in a multimedia conversation about how city design affects quality of life.

Wichita, KS
Hack the Narrative by Institute for the Future (Submitted by Sara Skvirsky): Empowering residents to tell their own stories by creating a toolkit that helps citizens hack the narrative of their city.