About Knight Cities Challenge

What is your best idea to make cities more successful? The Knight Cities Challenge seeks new ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities. From Oct. 1 to Oct. 27, 2015, we invited applicants from anywhere to tell us their ideas for making the 26 Knight communities more vibrant places to live and work. From a pool of $5 million, we’re looking to award grants at the city, neighborhood and block levels, and all sizes in between.

What is the goal?

The challenge is designed to help spur civic innovation at the city, neighborhood, and block levels, and all sizes in between. In particular, we hope to generate ideas that focus on one or all of three key drivers of city success: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement.

Who should apply?

The Knight Cities Challenge welcomes anyone with big ideas and the ability to realize them. Applicants may be activists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects; everyone is welcome. You don’t have to live in one of the 26 Knight communities to apply, but your project must be located in and benefit one of those communities. No project is too small — so long as your idea is big.

About the communities:

The 26 communities are all locations where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers.

  • Akron, OH
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Detroit, MI
  • Aberdeen, SD
  • Biloxi, MS
  • Boulder, CO
  • Bradenton, FL
  • Columbia, SC
  • Columbus, GA
  • Macon, GA
  • Miama, FL
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Duluth, MN
  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • Gary, IN
  • Grand Forks, ND
  • Lexington, KY
  • Long Beach, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • St. Paul, MN
  • Milledgeville, GA
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Palm Beach, FL
  • State College, PA
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Wichita, KS

What do you mean by talent, opportunity and engagement?

Research shows that attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity and creating a robust culture of civic engagement are key drivers of overall city success.

Talent: Attract and keep the best and brightest.

  • Cities are stronger for everyone when they can attract talented people with skills, education and the ability to succeed.
  • Talented people, both younger and older, are mobile and are returning to cities in record numbers, looking for the best of city life.
  • To succeed, cities must make it clear that they offer a diverse culture and vibrant lifestyle available in no other place.

Opportunity: Expand economic prospects and break down divides.

  • To succeed, cities need to be spaces where opportunity is expanding and open to all. They need economies that are both strong and fair.
  • That means cities need to create places where people of diverse backgrounds can connect across economic divides, so strengths can be shared throughout the community.
  • They need to support the way people work in today’s mobile and interconnected economy, so that everyone can find a job that works for them.

Engagement: Spur connection and civic involvement.

  • Residents must take hold of the future of their cities if they want their cities to succeed.
  • Engagement is about creating spaces for people to come together and help shape their city’s future.
  • Engaged residents are helping set the agenda for change in their cities and connecting with their communities to take concrete, collective action.

We think that place is a powerful lever and are interested in applications that explore how place can accelerate these three key drivers. To learn more, follow #knightcities on Twitter.

How is this different from the Knight Arts Challenge and the Knight News Challenge?

The Knight Cities Challenge has some important distinctions. Anyone, from anywhere, may submit an idea, but the idea must take place in one or more of the 26 Knight communities. Your idea can incorporate the arts or news and information, but the Knight Cities Challenge focuses on ideas that use one or more of these three areas to make cities more successful: attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement. Read more and watch a video here. You do not need to raise funds to match the Knight Cities Challenge grant.

No idea is too big.

Applications open October 1 - 27

Knight Foundation


Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.