The Knight Foundation is out with new information on its annual Cities Challenge. The foundation will open applications on October 1, for anyone to submit their best idea about how their city can improve service delivery.
“Our goals are attracting and retaining talent to improve city success, as well as increasing civic engagement,” explains George Abbott, Knight Foundation Special Assistant to the VP of Community and National Initiatives, in an interview with CivSource. “We wanted to create a challenge that had a low barrier to entry in order to get as many ideas as possible.”
For the cities challenge, entrants simply submit a 300-word application with their idea and why they think it is important for their municipality. One winner changed how Philadelphia manages its public pools in order to make them nicer and more inviting for local residents.
Last year many of the winners – including every winner in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina – were city employees applying officially or personally. “In Charlotte, the city manager there is really engaged, and encouraged city workers to apply with their passion projects. This year the same city manager is pushing his colleagues at the county level,” Abbott says.
The Knight Foundation is putting up $5 million dollars, and may also pick ideas for its other programs including the prototype fund.
Beyond the challenge itself, the Knight Foundation is aiming to build a network out of the winners. “We want to create a community of civic innovators so that they can work together and spread their knowledge. It’s about building the field of civic innovation,” says Carol Coletta, VP of Community and National Initiatives at the Knight Foundation. “There’s no playbook for this stuff, so we want to make one.”