Knight Foundation Awards More than $1 Million in Grants to 11 Organizations in San Jose

The Knight Foundation announced Wednesday that it awarded more than $1 million in grants to 11 organizations in San Jose for projects that include an initiative to promote and preserve the unique feel of Japantown and a video game designed to teach kids about local government.

For the past decade, Knight has doled out $24 million to arts and civic groups in San Jose and tens of millions more in other major cities across the country.

“At the root of these projects is the idea that San Jose, like all cities, must be built for people—encompassing public spaces that connect and energize, streets that make walking and biking irresistible and pathways that open access to local decision-making for all residents,” said Danny Harris, Knight’s program director for San Jose, in a statement announcing the grants.

The organizations receiving support include:

Gehl Studio, Inc. ($249,600) – Providing public life trainings and capacity building for San Jose's city and civic leaders to help them better advance, design and measure efforts to make the city’s public realm more vibrant and people friendly. Gehl will also produce two San Jose-specific reference handbooks containing guidelines and resources for integrating public life into civic projects and work with the community on a vision document to advance this goal.

National Association of City Transportation Officials ($198,000) – Improving neighborhood life by designing an all ages and all abilities bicycling network across central San Jose and sharing lessons learned with a national audience. The organization will work with the city of San Jose to expedite the process of designing, constructing and maintaining protected bike lane projects with a specific focus on central San Jose. 

California Walks ($150,000) – Creating a safer and more walkable San Jose by supporting the launch of Walk San Jose, the city’s first pedestrian advocacy program. Through the program, the organization will work with city officials and community members to advance initiatives that support walkability, organize events that encourage people to explore San Jose on foot, and act as a convener for citizens, community organizations and civic leaders interested in making the city more pedestrian-friendly.

iCivics, Inc. ($75,000) – Encouraging middle and high school students and their parents to get more involved in local government by developing a customized version of the iCivics educational video game, “Counties Work” focused on Santa Clara County. The game teaches players about local government by challenging them to complete activities such as building public spaces, finding the right department to address their concerns, or managing resources.

Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California ($75,000) – Creating more affordable housing in San Jose by piloting new engagement and outreach tools that will open opportunities for residents to learn about, participate in and lead solution-building and other initiatives.

SJMade, Inc. ($75,000) – Increasing work opportunities for people in underserved communities through the creation of Manufacture San Jose, a program that will deliver educational and hiring support to local manufacturers looking for local talent. Through the program, SFMade will also increase outreach to low-income high school students to educate them about careers in manufacturing and place students in paid “makerships” – positions that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship – with local manufacturers.

SV@Home ($75,000) – Supporting housing-ready communities in Santa Clara County through public education, policy and communication efforts that aim to ensure the success of Measure A, a $950 million bond measure for affordable housing approved by voters in November 2016.

San Jose Taiko ($45,000) – Connecting the city’s diverse residents by launching “Yokkosoi,” a project to promote and preserve the unique neighborhood feel of Japantown by welcoming newcomers and actively promoting their inclusion.

SOMOS Mayfair ($30,000) – Advancing civic engagement by expanding the organization’s efforts to engage residents in creating positive change in their communities through programs that educate people on local systems, connect neighbors, advance leadership development and encourage people to voice their concerns.

YWCA Silicon Valley ($30,000) – Building grassroots women’s leadership capacity in San Jose and Santa Clara County by engaging underrepresented communities, especially young women of color, to shape the priorities and implementation framework of a “Women’s Bill of Rights” ordinance for San Jose.

Catalyze SV ($28,837) – Supporting the launch of a grassroots group aimed at increasing community engagement and support for urban, mixed-use and people-friendly projects across Santa Clara County.


  1. Some of these are harmless. But not the transportation grant.

    This bicycle lane push is making cities hell for drivers by reducing traffic lanes for the *occasional* bike rider.

    Commuting by cars outnumbers commuting by bicycles by several hundred to one—but San Jose has preposterously agreed to require that 40% of commuters must peddle to work by 2040! That’s just 22 years from now.

    This is complete nonsense. Hedding was a 2-way street since it was built, but now it’s been converted to a single lane for bicycles, which are less than 1% of the traffic That uses that road. Now Hedding is totally congested as a direct result, since the cars that filled two lanes are all squeezed into a single lane now.

    Streets were built for cars, using registration fees paid by drivers. Bicycle riders pay nothing. Even so, they’re welcome to use the streets. But handing over half our street lanes for non-existent bicycle traffic is stupidity—doubled and squared!

    The first I knew of this was when I saw that Hedding was made into a one lane street. How about letting the residents vote on this nonsense, instead of letting a very small group of bike fanatics surreptitiously arrange and implement it from behind closed doors?

  2. > San Jose Taiko ($45,000) – Connecting the city’s diverse residents by launching “Yokkosoi,” a project to promote and preserve the unique neighborhood feel of Japantown by welcoming newcomers and actively promoting their inclusion.

    Since you brought it up, the San Jose Outside the Bubble project could use $45,000.

    Here’s my grant app. (Sorry I’m a little late).

    “Connecting the city’s diverse residents by launching “Bubble-dabba-doo,” a project to promote and preserve the unique neighborhood feel of Bubbletown by welcoming newcomers and actively promoting their inclusion.”

    “Hi, there, Newcomer.”


  3. After witnessing a few of these engineered traffic backups I wondered about the longterm affect on the residents of those streets. How will their air quality be affected by their proximity to idling vehicles (of all types) for hours on end? What about their quality of life, given their inability to escape honking horns, loud car stereos, and modified exhaust systems — especially in a city where the laws prohibiting them are seldom if ever enforced? Can you imagine the nightmare of trying to back out of driveway in the middle of an endless parade of pissed-off drivers? Can you imagine a parent’s horror at the thought of his teenager attempting the same?

    Traffic backups and residential streets are a poor match. Frustrated, angry drivers make impulsive and reckless U-turns, run red lights, use turn-only lanes to pass, and push every limit as they attempt to lessen the inconvenience/obstruction of snarled traffic. Are these the conditions the city desires to impose on its commuters and residents? Every intersection on Hedding Street, regardless of the sophistication of its traffic controls, has been made far more dangerous by the city’s plan to inconvenience motorists into becoming bicyclists. It’s not going to work, and a price will be paid.

  4. I drive the streets of Willow Glen, Cambrian Park, and Campbell almost daily. I haven’t seen a single bicycle rider in any bike lane the entire year so far, especially in the double wide “Liccardo Lanes” that have been painted in recently, most of which eliminated at least one lane of auto traffic but more two lanes. When I worked in downtown SJ, driving in from Willow Glen took 50% more time after the Liccardo Lanes were painted in on Third Street inbound and Fourth Street outbound. Over 3+ years I saw fewer than a dozen bicyclists using those lanes on Third and Fourth. What I have observed is how much longer it takes to get anywhere by car; and I, and thousands of others, have spent much more time spewing exhaust into the air while waiting in the traffic jams, with nary a bicycle rider in sight. The arterials and collector roads should be 100% for autos and buses. Let the bicycle riders use the residential streets. Maybe that will teach them to observe stop signs, traffic signals, and other rules of the road.

    • > Over 3+ years I saw fewer than a dozen bicyclists using those lanes on Third and Fourth.

      Well maybe. But they were probably important bicyclists.

      White trust fund children saving the planet or something.

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