Knight Cities Challenge Puts $5 Million up for Grabs

Five million dollars is up for grabs, and a slice of the pie only requires a good idea and a Twitter account.

The Knight Cities Challenge—an offshoot of the Knight Foundation—announced a first-of-its-kind grant program in early October, and it will be open to anyone who has an innovative idea to make his or her city more successful. A pool of $5 million is available to people in 26 communities across the nation, with submissions being accepted until Nov. 14.

“What were trying to make clear is this is open to anyone, not just the usual suspects,” George Abbott, interim program director for the Knight Foundation’s San Jose/Silicon Valley branch, said in a recent interview.

The Knight Foundations says it has identified three “drivers of success” for cities across the nation: 1. Attracting and retaining talent; 2. Expanding economic opportunities; and 3. Creating a culture of civic engagement.

“We think if you can move those three levers, you’ll be moving your city to a better place,” Abbott said.

The application process is relatively simple. The Knight Cities Challenge website requires visitors to create an account and write a brief description of how their idea will make their city better and what they intend to lean from the project. From there, the applicant needs to send out a Tweet about the idea, according to Abbott.

A review board will look at all the submissions and select finalists, who will then be asked to come up with a more detailed plan and budget proposal. The minimum amount for a grant is $1,000, but there is no maximum.

“We’re looking for any size application, as long as your idea is big,” Abbott said.

Editor's note: This article first appeared Oct. 31.

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