Monday, January 19, 2015

Knight Cities Challenge Names Finalists

The Knight Foundation is sponsoring the first Knight Cities Challenge, which is a call to make the over two dozen communities across the US more vibrant places to live and work. The winners of the challenge will share $5 million in funding to turn their ideas into realities. There were over 7,000 submissions and from that pool the Foundation selected 126 finalists. Of those, 8 of them were submitted for the San Jose community, which you can can find below along with the press release.

San Jose Finalists

San Pedro Squared by San Jose Downtown Association (Submitted by Scott Knies): Transforming the ground floor of a parking lot in the San Pedro Square to build momentum around economic revival of the area by introducing ground floor retail to the garage. [Josh: love this one!]

Civic One by The Tech Museum of Innovation (Submitted by Maryanna Rogers): Inviting the public to both imagine and test solutions for one significant city issue every year.

Crowdsourcing Three Creeks Trail Design & Development(Submitted by Scott Lane):  Involving the Willow Glen community in designing and maintaining San Jose’s Three Creeks Trail.

Knight Houses by Houslets (Submitted by Tim McCormick): Prototyping and deploying low-cost, modular, off-grid housing and workspace units to serve as civic building blocks to accommodate events, projects, creative space or the homeless.

Local Government Fiscal Assessment Tool (Submitted by Peter Furman and former Mayor Chuck Reed): Increasing transparency by designing a suite of tools to open up city budgets and make them comprehensible to the average person.

Mapping Learning Resources by Institute for the Future (Submitted by Sara Skvirsky): Mapping and sharing community knowledge through a “time bank” where residents can exchange hours of teaching for hours of learning, gain new skills and form new connections.

The Resolution (Submitted by Joshua Johnson): Making civic debates as engaging as televised sports coverage by assigning teams to an issue, crowdsourcing research, and presenting the debate live online

We Run This Space by Somos Mayfair (Submitted by Camille Llanes-Fontanilla): Transforming unused community centers, rundown buildings and empty lots into community-owned and -operated spaces for residents to shape and develop with their own innovative ideas.

The Bay Area Prototyping Festival by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (Submitted by Deborah Cullinan): Creating a large-scale urban prototyping festival that will call on the community to address challenges such as blight and lack of economic opportunity through public space solutions.

Knight Cities Challenge names 126 finalists

Finalists chosen from a pool of more than 7,000 applicants

MIAMI – Jan. 12, 2015 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced 126 finalists in the first Knight Cities Challenge, a national call for new ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work.

The challenge received more than 7,000 submissions. Finalists proposed a range of ideas: dinner parties that bring residents together to shape the future of their cities; competitive video gaming street arcades that reenliven public spaces and help establish the next NFL; master barbers partnering with professional landscapers to transform vacant lots; and a cycling journey that will cover all 2,600 miles of Philadelphia’s streets to gather stories of the city. Submissions came from many public and government organizations, as well as design experts, urban planning organizations and individuals focused on making their cities more successful.

Each of the ideas focuses on one or more of three drivers of city success:

     Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep the best and brightest
     Opportunity: Ideas that expand economic prospects and break down divides
     Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement

All 26 Knight communities are represented in the pool of finalists. A full list is below.

Winners, who will receive a share of $5 million, will be announced in spring 2015.

“The challenge has introduced us to a host of new ideas and people who want to take hold of the future of their cities,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “Through these new connections we hope to grow a network of civic innovators to take on community challenges and build solutions together.”

Open to innovators of all types, the Knight Cities Challenge asked applicants to answer the question: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?

Applicants have to follow only two rules: 1) A submission may come from anywhere, but the project must benefit one or more of 26 Knight communities. 2) The idea should focus on one or all of three key drivers of city successtalent, opportunity and engagement, as outlined above.

The challenge is part of a three-year, $15 million commitment that Knight Foundation announced in the fall of 2014.

For more information, visit


  1. If you take away parking, fewer people will come visit existing retail, ESPECIALLY since the SPS area is growing and gaining more fans by the moment. And no on the public transportation response -- from Santa Clara to DTSJ is an HOUR on the bus and 15 minutes via car.

    1. There's tons of parking near SPSM.

    2. You know that garage has like six levels, right? There's this ramp you can drive up to get to more spaces. It's amazing.

  2. For this proposal:
    Local Government Fiscal Assessment Tool (Submitted by Peter Furman and former Mayor Chuck Reed): Increasing transparency by designing a suite of tools to open up city budgets and make them comprehensible to the average person

    Couldn't they use the already existing OpenGov tools?