Starting May 1, Knight Foundation will again be offering matching funds to community and place-based foundations seeking to make an impact by funding news and information projects. This year, however, the Knight Community Information Challenge is evolving.
While the challenge will continue to be an open contest for all kinds of media projects, this year we will be offering up to $50,000 in seed funding to foundations for new ideas. Our goal is to provide the support funders need to test their ideas and assumptions, and iterate as need be, before going on to the more costly process of building out a full project.
Also in this round, we will be particularly interested in open government projects, an area we think shows great promise.
What does this mean? Our definition of open government is somewhat broad. We’re looking for projects that improve the way citizens and governments interact. For ideas, you might look at the recent entries—and 40 finalists—in the foundation’s innovation contest, the Knight News Challenge.Perhaps someone in your community has an idea you’d like to partner with, or you see an idea you’d like to import into your community.
We’ll be talking more about these changes during a webinar at 1 p.m. ET on May 1. You can register here.
As traditional media models began to falter, Knight started the challenge as a way to encourage local funders to help communities be informed about and engaged in issues important to them. Over the first five years, the challenge has funded more than 100 impactful projects from Anchorage to Puerto Rico, with foundations embracing their leadership role in promoting the informed communities our democracy requires. Perhaps most importantly, these projects are having a measurable impact on issues foundations care about. In fact, two-thirds of challenge grantees say they’ve influenced community behaviors through their project, and a third have seen a policy change at the local level.
Projects have moved the needle on safeguarding the local water supply in Virginia, protected against hazardous trucking in Wyoming, changed the policy for car seizures in Los Angeles that hamper low income residents, and more. You can read more about challenge projects, and how they were put together, in case studies we published earlier this year.
We know there are more ideas out there in more places, and we’re excited to hear about them.
The grant contest is one of four ways we will expand and extend the Knight Community Information Challenge into 2015. We will also:
Foundation leaders from across the country shared their thinking and expertise to help us craft the extension of the Knight Community Information Challenge. While many have fully embraced the value of news and information to increasing their leadership roles in communities, others have yet to join us in this movement. We believe—and these leaders agreed—that a multi-pronged approach would be most successful in reaching and supporting the field.
We hope you agree and will join us in this important work—whether launching a project, attending the Media Learning Seminar, or taking advantage of the skills training we’ve created to support you.
There’s much more information available at informationneeds.org, and we hope you’ll join us for the webinar on May 1.
Susan Patterson is program director/Charlotte and Bahia Ramos is director/community foundations for the Knight Foundation.