Knight Cities Challenge

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2015 Knight Cities Challenge Winners

Introducing the 32 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge


Challenge Winners!

The 32 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge were selected from more than 7,000 applicants.

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Multiple Communities

  • The Urban “Consulate”

    Recipient: Claire Nelson

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Promoting cross-city cultural and civic exchange by setting up a network of new “consulates” initially located in Detroit, Philadelphia and New Orleans that offer events and an entrée into local culture.

  • The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Cooperation

    Recipient: DailyTousLesJours

    Award: $325,000

    Aim: Bringing people together to connect and engage in four Knight resident cities (Charlotte, Macon, Philadelphia and San Jose) with a musical swings installation that plays music when used and more complex melodies when people collaborate to use them together.

City: Akron, Ohio

  • Better Block International Hostel on AirBnB

    Recipient: Team Better Block

    Award: $155,000

    Aim: Turning a vacant property into an AirBnB hostel and cultural hub in Akron’s North Hill to tap the entrepreneurial potential of the neighborhood’s growing Bhutanese population.

  • Unbox Akron

    Recipient: Chris Horne

    Award: $52,168

    Aim: Fostering a stronger connection to the city by creating a subscription service that celebrates Akron with a monthly selection of local goods and experiences delivered in a box.

City: Bradenton, Florida

  • ReuseReCONNECT

    Recipient: Realize Bradenton

    Award: $90,140

    Aim: Engaging millennials in Bradenton by experimenting with pop-up events that temporarily transform outdoor spaces into places for conversations on local topics.

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

  • No Barriers Project

    Recipient: Sarah Hazel

    Award: $67,100

    Aim: Bringing two diverse neighborhoods together in a public park that sits on their border by creating a new common space that uses light, sound and play to stimulate conversation.

  • “Porch” Swings in Public Places

    Recipient: Tom Warshauer

    Award: $28,000

    Aim: Fostering conversation among strangers by installing Charlotte’s signature porch swings in public spaces.

  • Take Ten Initiative

    Recipient: Alyssa Dodd

    Award: $74,000

    Aim: Challenging municipal workers to take 10 minutes each week to connect with a city resident and report on their thoughts and ideas.

City: Columbus, Georgia

  • Minimum Grid: Maximum Impact

    Recipient: MidTown Inc.

    Award: $199,195

    Aim: Establishing a comprehensive network of bicycle and pedestrian connections among the entertainment and business district of Uptown and the 24 diverse neighborhoods of MidTown.

City: Detroit, Michigan

  • RE: Brand Detroit: Innovating Detroit Neighborhoods

    Recipient: Brand Camp University

    Award: $164,810

    Aim: Changing the narrative of underserved neighborhoods by developing compelling branding and digital presences for neighborhood businesses that better tell their stories.

  • Brick + Beam Detroit

    Recipient: Michigan Historic Preservation Network

    Award: $87,424

    Aim: Creating a new community of Detroit rehabbers who will work together to combat blight, reactivate vacant buildings and improve their city.

  • The Buzz

    Recipient: Detroit Future City

    Award: $84,055

    Aim: Pairing barbers with landscape contractors to transform overgrown vacant lots through facilitated design workshops that teach mowing and pattern-making techniques.

  • Detroit Homecoming

    Recipient: Crain’s Detroit Business

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Engaging Detroit expats with a new digital community designed to keep them connected to Detroit and its opportunities.

  • LIVE Detroit

    Recipient: LIVE Detroit

    Award: $40,000

    Aim: Attracting and retaining residents by creating a center for information about Detroit neighborhoods and city life that showcases the best of Detroit.

City: Gary, Indiana

  • ArtHouse: a Social Kitchen

    Recipient: Rebuild Foundation

    Award: $650,000

    Aim: Repurposing a vacant space in downtown Gary as a culinary incubator and café designed to reinvigorate downtown while creating jobs and opportunities for residents.

City: Lexington, Kentucky

  • Northside Common Market

    Recipient: North Limestone Community Development Corp.

    Award: $550,000

    Aim: Repurposing a vacant bus station into a market for locally grown food and locally made goods and a creative business incubator that will serve as a neighborhood hub.

City: Macon, Georgia

  • Operation Export Macon

    Recipient: College Hill Alliance

    Award: $75,000

    Aim: Fostering city pride and helping attract newcomers to Macon by sending one man in a roaming trailer to nearby cities, to showcase the city’s best food, goods and experiences.

  • Macon Civic Spaces

    Recipient: Geoffrey Boyd

    Award: $124,300

    Aim: Creating an umbrella organization to bring together individual park volunteer groups to create a network of advocates, interested in improving and maintaining local parks as vibrant community engagement venues.

City: Miami, Florida

  • The Science Barge

    Recipient: CappSci

    Award: $298,633

    Aim: Creating a public focal point for Miami’s climate issues with the Science Barge, a floating, urban sustainable farm and environmental education center powered by renewable energy.

City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • The Pop-Up Pool Project

    Recipient: Group Melvin Design

    Award: $297,000

    Aim: Introducing fun, easy solutions at city pools, which will be designed to make them more vibrant places to meet and interact with neighbors and friends.

  • South Philly's Stoop

    Recipient: Scout

    Award: $146,960

    Aim: 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

    Recipient: City Parks Association of Philadelphia

    Award: $65,000

    Aim: Transforming vacant land in Philadelphia into urban forests that produce trees to be replanted on city streets and in parks.

  • Next Stop: Democracy! The Voting Signage Project

    Recipient: Here’s My Chance

    Award: $166,394

    Aim: Making voting in local elections more enticing by creating new types of signs at polling places and commissioning artists to perform site-specific pieces on election days.

  • Neighborhood Conservation Kit

    Recipient: Central Roxborough Civic Association

    Award: $20,000

    Aim: 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.

  • Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub

    Recipient: Mt. Airy USA

    Award: $261,500

    Aim: Harnessing the talent and energy of immigrants to revitalize distressed neighborhoods by providing centers that would offer immigrant entrepreneurs low-cost space, language assistance, workshops and trainings, and access to traditional and non-traditional sources of capital.

  • DIG Philly by The Big SandBox Inc.

    Recipient: Jacques Gaffigan

    Award: $149,050

    Aim: Bringing together members of the community from diverse ages, ethnic and economic groups to create a movement to reinvent schoolyards across the city using traditional grassroots outreach and new digital engagement tools.

City: San Jose, California

  • Houslets

    Recipient: Houslets

    Award: $40,000

    Aim: Prototyping and deploying low-cost, modular housing and workspace units to test a new model for temporary and affordable housing for San Jose’s fast-growing population.

  • San Pedro Squared

    Recipient: San Jose Downtown Association

    Award: $139,000

    Aim: Testing a new method of economic revival focused on bringing activity to the streets by installing pop-up retail units on the ground floor of a parking structure opposite the lively San Pedro Square market.

City: St. Paul, Minnesota

  • 4 Play

    Recipient: Greater MSP

    Award: $117,000

    Aim: Changing the way people perceive the city and its climate by inviting all residents to come together for an outdoor activity—whether it’s ice fishing or summer canoeing—once per season.

  • 8-80 Vitality Fellow

    Recipient: Mayor’s Office, City of St. Paul

    Award: $175,000

    Aim: Promoting a more livable St. Paul by embedding a fellow in the mayor’s office who will work across departments to manage the $42 million committed to the mayor’s 8-80 Vitality Fund, which aims to ensure that walking, biking and public spaces are a priority in all city projects.

  • MN Nice Breakers

    Recipient: Jun-Li Wang

    Award: $37,960

    Aim: Making the city more welcoming by using existing events to help newcomers quickly establish social networks that attach them to the city.

  • Rolling Out the Warm Welcome Hat

    Recipient: Jun-Li Wang

    Award: $67,288

    Aim: Welcoming newcomers by having city leaders hold monthly ceremonies to give them an official welcome gift, a warm hat for Minnesota winters.

Next Challenge

What is your best idea to make cities more successful?

The Knight Cities Challenge seeks new ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities. The annual challenge is designed to help spur civic innovation at the city, neighborhood, and block levels, and all sizes in between. In particular, we hope to generate ideas that focus on one or all of three key drivers of city success: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement.

The next round of the challenge will open in October.