“South Philly’s Stoop” and Six Other Local Projects Are Recipients of the Knight Cities Challenge

Winners will share in a $5 million prize.

Google Street VIew

The former Edward H. Bok Technical School via Google Street View

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation–which recently partnered with the William Penn Foundation to award $11 million to five Philadelphia parks (including the highly anticipated Rail Park)–has announced the thirty-two recipients of its annual Knight Cities Challenge this year. Seven of them–really nine, as you’ll read in a bit–are in Philly.

The organization is known for running similar competitions in various fields throughout the country, but it’s the Cities Challenge that seeks innovative civic ideas that will help enhance Knight Foundation communities into “more vibrant places to live and work.” Thank goodness we’re one of them, right?

Among this year’s winners, “who will share in $5 million in funding,” the Philadelphia contingent includes Group Melvin Design’s Pop-Up Pool Project, Here’s My Chance’s Next Stop: Democracy! The Voting Signage Project, Mt. Airy USA’s Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub, and the Big SandBox’s DIG Philly project. Below you’ll find three of the other projects, as described by the Knight Foundation’s Carol Coletta, which avid Property readers may appreciate the most:

 South Philly’s Stoop, $146,960 by Scout (Submitted by Lindsey Scannapieco): Transforming the vacant space surrounding the recently closed, historic Edward Bok school in South Philadelphia into a new community living room that brings community members together, encourages connections and engages people with neighborhood history.

Urban Arboreta, $65,000 by City Parks Association of Philadelphia (Submitted by Timothy Baird): Transforming vacant land in Philadelphia into urban forests that produce trees to be replanted on city streets and in parks.

Neighborhood Conservation Kit, $20,000 by Central Roxborough Civic Association (Submitted by Sandy Sorlien): Putting the future of communities in residents’ hands with a toolkit they can use to create a special zoning designation called a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay.

We’re especially looking forward to Scout Ltd’s South Philly’s Stoop since the former Edward Bok School transformation is something we’ve had our eye on for awhile.

In addition to these, the Urban “Consulate,” and The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Cooperation, both projects that target multiple communites (Philadelphia included), also received the Knight Cities Challenge prize.

George Abbott, the foundation’s Special Assistant to the VP/Community and National Initiatives, tells us the challenge is actually a three-year initiative, started last year, which will be evaluated by the foundation board in 2016. At that time, a decision will be made about whether or not to recommend the challenge continue.

32 civic innovators receive $5 million in funding in first Knight Cities Challenge [Knight Foundation]