Knight Cities Challenge Names 2 Winners from San Jose

An idea to liven up downtown San Jose’s Post Street just won a six-figure windfall to make it a reality.

The Knight Foundation will grant $100,000 to Justin Triano, the founder of an East Side bicycling group, to launch a night market in the downtown alley. Another $100,000 will go to Little Portugal’s Mexican Heritage Plaza, the other San Jose winner in the national Knight Cities Challenge.

The Knight Cities Challenge, which is going on its second year, offers $5 million for ideas to improve 26 designated cities. This latest contest drew more than 4,500 applicants, which the foundation narrowed down to 37 winners.

Those ideas include a proposal to explore Detroit’s history through a monthly bike tour, one to combine hip-hop and business training for low-income Philadelphia residents, and pop-up social spaces at Long Beach voting polls.

In San Jose, Triano’s vision to promote local artisans and draw people to the heart of the city now has the financial backing to launch. Tamara Alvarado, who manages the Mexican Heritage Plaza, plans to use her grant to hire a coordinator to draw more people to the Mayfair neighborhood by way of folk life events, such as the MayFeria.

“At its core, the Knight Cities Challenge is about discovering and connecting civic innovators, creative interventionists who inspire positive change,” Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen said. “The winners reflect this goal. Their ideas have the potential to create stronger communities and spaces that spur learning, engagement and growth.”

The contest will begin accepting applications for its third-annual cycle this fall. To see the entire list of 2016 winners, click here.


  1. The Knight Foundation has a full-time guy in San Jose, Daniel Harris. And only two Knight Cities Challenge awardees in San Jose? What a shame. This foundation has such limited impact. How about donating the $100K+ that goes to the program officer’s salary and use it for valuable community improvement instead?

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