Knight Cities Challenge to Open Gates for Next Flood of Innovative, Civic-Minded Proposals


Photo by Brian Addison.

The coveted Knight Cities Challenge, an annual national call known for spurring innovators and dreamers to come up with new ideas to make their cities more dynamic, vibrant and welcoming places to live and flourish, has announced that the next round of the challenge will open on Thursday, October 1.

The Knight Cities Challenge 2016 asks a similar question: What is your best idea to make cities more successful? With this challenge, the Knight Foundation hopes to generate ideas that focus on attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement.

knight foundationDuring last year’s challenge, two Long Beach innovators were among the 126 finalists tasked with turning their proposed ideas into feasible plans.

Long Beach resident and avid WriteGirl volunteer, Rachel Ng, wanted to create a neighborhood-based skills exchange where residents could offer their talents to assist others’ needs, entitled “Give and You Shall Receive.” Nostrum, Inc., a Long Beach-based full-service marketing agency submitted an idea entitled “Living Walls,” where residents would be able to create community assets around blank neighborhood walls, such as vertical gardens, rock climbing activities, film screens or visual art.

Neither of the two local innovators’ ideas were among the 32 projects awarded grants from the $5 million pot in the end, but the Knight Cities Challenge 2016 is a fresh start ripe with potential.

The competition was also very fierce, if you consider the 7,000 others who applied to make their cities a better place.

The Knight Cities Challenge 2015 winners included the Philadelphia-based Pop-Up Pool Project, which was awarded $297,000 to break down divides and make city pools more fun and vibrant places to interact with neighbors and friends. Ohio-based Unbox Akron created a subscription service with its $52,168 of winnings to deliver a monthly selection of local goods and experiences to participants in a box. The Voting Signage Project, also for Philadelphia, encouraged voting by bringing together street artists to create site-specific pieces at polling places on election days.

Click here to view the full list of last year’s winners and read about the next challenge, which opens to applicants on Thursday, October 1.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.