Citizen Participation

‘Cities Challenge’ Offers Grants Large and Small for Innovative Community Builders


‘Cities Challenge’ Offers Grants Large and Small for Innovative Community Builders ( Depositphotos_© mangostock - Community )

Knight Cities Challenge Accepting Applicants in Cities Across America

Between October 10 and November 3, 2016, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is accepting applications for their annual Knight Cities Challenge. A $5 million pool has been set aside in grants for projects ranging from city-wide to block-level. The applicants are given full freedom to determine their own project guidelines, provided they work to foster and improve one of three core value goals seen as drivers of city success: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement.

Winners from the 2016 contest showed a range of projects in focus and scope. Some of the winners:

  • $4,000 for “Urban Glens” in Columbus, GA – Inviting spaces with trees, lights and hammocks—on vacant and overgrown lots to encourage people to meet and connect, while cleaning up city-owned properties.
  • $28,000 for “Can Do Signs” in Charlotte, NC – Rethinking municipal signs that typically tell people “what not to do,” to spur fun, imagination and positivity throughout Charlotte; the project will create signs that provide amusing, enchanting, fun options.
  • $128,000 for “Innerbelt Bicycle Park” in Akron, OH – Providing new life for an abandoned section of the highway by creating a “bicycle park” that promotes cycling, encourages new riders and attracts cyclists from throughout the region and nation.
  • $385,000 for “Steel City Salvage” in Gary, IN – Establishing a reuse facility that would reclaim building materials, such as lumber, from vacant homes in Gary to contribute to economic growth, create jobs and support businesses, and provide opportunities for community collaboration on development projects.

While the applicant(s) can come from anywhere, the projects themselves must take place in one of the 26 cities in which the Foundation works:

The challenge is open to nonprofits, for-profits, individuals, governments and anyone with a great idea that will advance talent, opportunity or engagement. Some organizations or individuals may require a fiscal sponsor or an intermediary.

Initial applications will be reviewed and evaluated on the strength of your idea, its potential to advance talent, opportunity or engagement and your plan to execute the project. Full information on how to apply can be found here.

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