The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced that 33 innovative projects will share $5 million as winners of the Knight Cities Challenge. Each of the ideas centers on helping cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunities and create a culture of civic engagement.

“The Knight Cities Challenge works to uncover the ideas, people and collaborations that help to advance deeper civic engagement and contribute to city success,” said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation vice president for communities and impact. “The winners join a network of civic innovators who are showing us the ways in which our cities can shape their futures to help solve pressing challenges and create new opportunities.”

The challenge attracted more than 4,500 ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work. It asked innovators of all kinds to answer the question: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful? Five projects in Detroit are receiving portions of the $5 million pool.

The 33 winners proposed a host of ideas, from providing a space for Philadelphians to develop city service solutions through a traveling city design lab to further enlivening the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city’s Atwater Street, from replacing an inoperative freeway in Akron with a lush forest and public space to connect two physically and socially isolated neighborhoods to reimagining Columbia, South Carolina’s State House as a front porch for all.

“These Knight Cities Challenge winners will help to create avenues for people to contribute to their community. Their ideas propose to bring together diverse residents, ensure talent thrives, and connect people to place, giving them a stake in city-building,” said George Abbott, Knight Foundation director for community and national initiatives.

Open to any individual, business, government or nonprofit, the Knight Cities Challenge has just two rules: (1) A submission may come from anywhere, but the project must take place in or benefit one or more of the 26 communities where Knight invests and (2) the idea should focus on one or more of three drivers of city success: Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep talented people; Opportunity: Ideas that create economic prospects by breaking down divides and making new connections; Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.

Winning projects are based in 19 of the 26 communities where Knight invests including: Aberdeen, South Dakota; Akron, Ohio; Biloxi, Mississippi; Bradenton, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; Duluth, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Lexington, Kentucky; Macon, Georgia; Miami; Milledgeville, Georgia; Palm Beach County, Florida; Philadelphia; St. Paul, Minnesota; San Jose, California; Wichita, Kansas.

The list of winners is below and at: http://kng.ht/kcc2017

The challenge opened in October 2016. Knight Foundation announced finalists in January.

Launched in 2014, the Knight Cities Challenge named a total of 69 winning ideas over its first and second years. Winners have created innovative solutions aimed at connecting people of all backgrounds and incomes, inviting people into active civic engagement and helping keep and attract talented people in their communities. They include: The Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship, which uses hip-hop to provide hands-on business training to members of low-income groups in Philadelphia; Re:Brand Detroit, which aims to spark reinvestment in Detroit’s neighborhoods through entrepreneurship; and Minimum Grid Maximum Impact, which improves neighborhood life by creating a network of bike and pedestrian connections between Midtown and Uptown Columbus, Georgia.

Knight communities do not always correspond with city limits; check each community’s page on the organization’s website website to find out where they fund.

For more on the Knight Cities Challenge, visit knightcities.org and http://kng.ht/kcc2017. For information and updates follow @knightfdn and #knightcities on Twitter.

 

2017 Knight Cities Challenge Winners – Detroit

Atwater Beach, $225,000 (by Detroit RiverFront Conservancy; submitted by Jan Shimshock): Further activating the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city’s Atwater Street.

Better Buildings, Better Blocks, $150,000 (by Building Community Value; submitted by Chase Cantrell): Providing a pipeline for minorities into real estate jobs, by teaching the fundamentals of small-scale property development and providing initial project financing.

Design Center in a Box: A Place for Informed Community Exchange, $205,000 (by City of Detroit Planning and Development Department; submitted by Susan Burrows): Promoting civic engagement by creating pop-up city planning offices where residents can connect with city planning staff and others to exchange ideas and become informed about the design and planning work happening in their neighborhood and the city at large.

Detroit’s Slow Roll, $129,400 (by Detroit Bike City; submitted by Jeff Herron): Leveraging the 25,000 cyclists who participate in Slow Roll Detroit and demonstrating how to engage Detroit’s nonprofit sector, drive renewal and smile while doing it.

Happy 18th Birthday! Local Citizenship Kit, $101,000 (by Citizen Detroit; submitted by Sandra Yu Stahl): Celebrating Detroiters becoming eligible to vote by sending them a local citizenship kit in the mail on their 18th birthday.

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