Your Idea Could be the Change You Want to See

Have you ever complained to a friend about how you could make a difference if you only had the tools to do so? Or ever look around your neighborhood and wish some things were different – improved even? Wait no more.

The Knight Cities Challenge is the opportunity to have your ideas become a reality. Through the challenge, the Knight Foundation could help provide you with the necessary tools like funding and advice to make real change. Your idea could help better the community around you.

Carol Coletta, Vice President of Community and National Initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, sat down with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER to discuss the foundation’s cities challenge.

“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,” said Coletta in an official press release.

Here, anyone and everyone has the chance to apply. “It’s really easy to apply for the challenge because there are only three questions that you have to answer,” Coletta said. The Knight Foundation wants as many possible ideas without prior needed affiliations; giving everybody a chance to make a difference in the way they see best.

The application opened on October 1st and closes on October 27th.

Although only in its second year, the challenge received “7,000 plus applications, which proved that there were a lot of people out there who wanted to get things done in their cities to make them better,” said Coletta.

Applications also highlighted a variety of interests. So go for out of the box thinking or stay between the lines, because either way “The scope of ideas were wide ranging and also showed that talent, opportunity, and engagement are all important to the success of cities overall,” Coletta said. Ultimately, the Knight Foundation allocated $5 million to 32 winners.

You do, however, have to live in one of the 26 Knight communities to be able to partake. You can find the application at If you have any questions about the challenge, you can join the Knight Foundation for virtual office hours or in-person events in many of the 26 Knight communities to learn more. The schedule, which is regularly updated, can be accessed here.

One piece of advice Coletta stressed since the application is short is the necessity to capture “the essence of the idea really quickly. Write one sentence about your project and read it to a friend or a colleague who knows nothing about what you’re trying to do and make sure it’s clear.”

Another key piece of advice can be taken straight from the Knight Foundation’s release. Your idea should entail the following aspects in your proposal:

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

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

3) Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.

So get up and give it a try. Partake in the Knight Cities Challenge and you could not only feel like a winner in your community, you could be one! Go better the world, but why not start with your own city?


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