$5 Million Up for Grabs in Second Annual Knight Cities Challenge

What would make San Jose a better city? A good answer could win a slice of $5 million.

The second annual Knight Cities Challenge will accept applications through Oct. 27. A submission can come from anywhere, but must benefit one of the 26 communities designated by the Knight Foundation.

Winners will receive grant money to get their idea off the ground and become part of a national network to keep them on task.

The foundation is looking for ideas that help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic prospects and spur civic involvement. Last year’s contest drew applications from architects, activists, artists, city planners, entrepreneurs, students, public officials, educators and local governments, among others.

While the application is easy to fill out, the grant-givers want people with fully fleshed ideas they can translate to reality with some funding.

“Through the challenge we want to find new voices and new ideas that capture the three key ingredients of city success—talent, opportunity and engagement,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “We see these as essential to the challenge and to building stronger futures for all of our cities.”

The nonprofit will host virtual office hours and in-person events for people who want to learn more about the challenge.

In March, Knight announced 32 winners from last year’s challenge. Two were from San Jose, including a project to turn the ground floor of San Pedro Square’s parking garage into a retail space. The foundation pulled funding from the second winner, Tim McCormick, who wanted to build modular homes.

Click here to look at past winners.


  1. Understand Knight Cities wants to improve San Jose. How about a grant to removing the old signage of business no longer around. Nothing speaks to a failed downtown commercial district as signs of restaurants, shops and business’ that have pulled the plug and left. The first award could go toward removing the HUGE sign draped high above (and beyond code) in giant letters that signify nothing anymore- -atop the Fairmount Office Tower – please remove KNIGHT RIDDER sign,

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