Knight Cities Challenge Is Back and Looking For Ways to Boost Philly

What's your big idea for making Philly better?

Top left, bottom right: Pop-Up Pool Project; center: Wikimedia Commons; top right: Neighborhood Conservation Kit; bottom left: Next Stop: Democracy! The Voting Signage Project

Top left, bottom right: Pop-Up Pool Project; center: Wikimedia Commons; top right: Neighborhood Conservation Kit; bottom left: Next Stop: Democracy! The Voting Signage Project

Along with the boom in office and residential construction, Philadelphia has had civic-minded projects blossoming here and there. Just off the top of our head, there’s the Urban Arboreta, the Pop-Up Pool Project, South Philly’s Stoop project, Rail Park, and many more.

But what else do these projects have in common besides bringing neighborhoods together and promoting better quality of live within those communities? Each has received funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation by having been, with the exception of the Rail Park, recipients of the Knight Cities Challenge. (See past winners here.)

Established in the last few years, the Challenge is a competition seeking to find the biggest ideas that will help Knight Communities (yes, Philadelphia is one of them) attract and keep talent, expand economic opportunity, and create a vibrant culture of civic engagement within said area. Its goal, essentially, is to see a city succeed by giving a boost to those projects and ideas looking to find innovative ways of making the aforementioned traits happen in a given community. Now, the Challenge is back in town.

According to a press release, the Knight Cities Challenge opened yesterday. Between now and October 27th, the Knight Foundation will be accepting applications, with the winners receiving a share of $5 million dollars (25 other communities in different cities will also be applying).

The Challenge is open to anyone from activists and city officials to artists and architects to planning professionals, educators, hackers, entrepreneurs, block captains and many more. The Challenge, which is accepting applications here, has two main guidelines:

1. A submission may come from anywhere, but the project must take place in or benefit one or more of 26 Knight communities.

2. The idea should focus on one or more of three key drivers of city success:

• Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep talented people.

• Opportunity: Ideas that expand economic prospects by breaking down divides and making new connections.

• Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.

And don’t be dissuaded if you feel your idea doesn’t have the chops. “You don’t have to be a professional grant writer, but you should be ready with a plan to make your idea a reality,” says the press release.

“Through the challenge we want to find new voices and new ideas that capture the three key ingredients of city success—talent, opportunity and engagement. We see these as essential to the challenge and to building stronger futures for all of our cities,” adds Knight Foundation Vice President for Community and National Initiatives Carol Coletta.

So, got a big idea that would help improve Philly? Be sure to submit it any time before 12:00pm on October 27th.

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