2016 Knight Cities Challenge Winners

Introducing the 37 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge


Challenge Winners!

The 37 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge were selected from more than 4,500 applicants.

Filter by city:

City: Akron, Ohio

  • Cuyahoga Explore-A-Foot

    Recipient: Brian and Tracy Davis

    Award: $70,000

    Aim: Encouraging visitors to explore remote regions of Cuyahoga Valley National Park by providing services and amenities, such as help with travel arrangements and baggage transport, that make it more accessible.

  • Downtown Akron Innerbelt Bicycle Park

    Recipient: Jonathan Morschl

    Award: $120,000

    Aim: Providing new life for an abandoned section of the highway by creating a “bicycle park” that promotes cycling, encourages new riders and attracts cyclists from throughout the region and nation.

City: Boulder, Colorado

  • Tree Debris to Opportunity

    Recipient: City of Boulder

    Award: $200,000

    Aim: Expanding economic opportunity for members of the community in need of new skills and careers by training them to turn debris from infested and diseased trees into furniture and art.

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

  • CrownTownHall

    Recipient: City of Charlotte (Jason Lawrence)

    Award: $85,000

    Aim: Helping residents more easily connect with their local government and get involved with civic issues through pop-up events where they can meet elected officials, sign up for city services, and review area planning efforts.

  • Can Do Signs

    Recipient: City of Charlotte (Sarah Hazel)

    Award: $27,900

    Aim: Rethinking municipal signs that typically tell people “what not to do,” to spur fun, imagination and positivity throughout Charlotte; the project will create signs that provide amusing, enchanting, fun options: You can dance! You can sing! You can skip!

  • Queen City Quiz Show

    Recipient: Charlotte is Creative

    Award: $85,000

    Aim: Creating a mobile quiz show that will team local musicians and artists with cultural groups to entertain, enlighten and challenge diverse communities with questions about the city from the trivial to the pertinent and controversial.

City: Columbus, Georgia

  • Evolving MidTown: Lot by Lot

    Recipient: Incremental Development Alliance

    Award: $174,400

    Aim: Recruiting and training a diverse group of individuals on skills to become small-scale developers; participants will use distressed or underused lots as beta projects and receive access to investors and other resources.

  • Urban Glen

    Recipient: Phillip Trocquet

    Award: $4,400

    Aim: Creating “urban glens”—inviting spaces with trees, lights and hammocks—on vacant and overgrown lots to encourage people to meet and connect, while cleaning up city-owned properties.

City: Detroit, Michigan

  • Pedal to Porch

    Recipient: Cornetta Lane

    Award: $34,400

    Aim: Exploring Detroit’s untold history through monthly bike tours leading participants through different areas of the city and giving residents a chance to tell the story of their neighborhoods.

  • Dequindre Cut Market

    Recipient: Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

    Award: $135,665

    Aim: Creating spaces for entrepreneurs to set up shop along the Dequindre Cut with shipping container pop-up shops that will add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and attract new interest.

  • Detroit’s Pink Zone

    Recipient: City of Detroit Department of Planning and Development

    Award: $75,000

    Aim: Creating new opportunities for jobs and businesses by developing a new tool to streamline city development regulations and engaging design talent and developers to help reshape commercial districts.

  • Give a Park, Get a Park

    Recipient: City of Detroit Department of Planning and Development

    Award: $75,000

    Aim: Creating sustainable microparks in Detroit neighborhoods that are designed in response to community needs, require few resources and are easy to maintain.

  • Sensors in a Shoebox

    Recipient: University of Michigan

    Award: $138,339

    Aim: Training youth to use sensors and data analytics that track environmental conditions such as traffic, noise or temperature in city neighborhoods; the project will help students answer questions about their community and build ideas to make it better.

  • The People First Project

    Recipient: Chad Rochkind

    Award: $184,000

    Aim: Creating a network of tactical urbanists who collectively select a single urban challenge each year on which to focus quick, low-cost, creative improvements.

City: Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Tired-a-lot

    Recipient: Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center

    Award: $95,434

    Aim: Creating a design studio that will engage local youth to identify and create solutions to transform vacant lots in their neighborhood with low-cost materials.

City: Gary, Indiana

  • Steel City Salvage

    Recipient: Delta Institute

    Award: $385,000

    Aim: Establishing a reuse facility that would reclaim building materials, such as lumber, from vacant homes in Gary to contribute to economic growth, create jobs and support businesses, and provide opportunities for community collaboration on development projects.

City: Grand Forks, North Dakota

  • New Flavors Food Truck

    Recipient: Pete Haga

    Award: $106,800

    Aim: Offering new American residents access to a generic food truck and the equipment they need to start their own food service business or restaurant.

City: Lexington, Kentucky

  • Phoenix Forward

    Recipient: Lexington Public Library Foundation

    Award: $150,200

    Aim: Transforming Phoenix Park and Central Library into a place where children and families from diverse backgrounds can learn and play together; the project would involve complementary park and library programming and activities for families.

  • Parking Lot Diaries

    Recipient: Lexington Downtown Development Authority

    Award: $87,200

    Aim: Creating a living civic engagement lab in an underused area next to the Transit Center that tests and tracks temporary interventions and activities designed to add vibrancy to the area; the project will contribute to the city’s Town Branch Commons plan.

City: Long Beach, California

  • Place-make the Vote

    Recipient: City Fabrick

    Award: $153,600

    Aim: Developing a kit for creating temporary pop-up social spaces at voting polls in historically low voter turnout areas to encourage people to vote and provide venues to celebrate democracy afterwards.

  • The Outdoor Office

    Recipient: City of Long Beach

    Award: $300,000

    Aim: Transforming a portion of a public park into a space that encourages creativity, collaboration and productivity, and encourages residents to take work to the park.

City: Macon, Georgia

  • Pop-up Minimum Grid

    Recipient: New Town Macon Inc.

    Award: $151,900

    Aim: Creating a pop-up minimum grid that would allow citizens to explore their city safely on foot or on bicycles; the project would expand a trail system from the river to downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.

City: Miami, Florida

  • Biscayne Green

    Recipient: Miami Downtown Development Authority

    Award: $145,000

    Aim: Creating a pop-up park and urban forest along Biscayne Boulevard to drive momentum for “Biscayne Green,” a proposal to redesign Biscayne Boulevard to include a pedestrian promenade.

  • Miami Civic User Testing Group

    Recipient: Code for Miami

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Ensuring that people building local government technology use real-world feedback throughout the development process by creating a user testing group that will identify user experience issues more quickly, while making websites and apps more accessible.

  • The Underline: Brickell Backyard

    Recipient: Friends of the Underline, Inc.

    Award: $250,000

    Aim: Creating a sports field and gym as part of The Underline, a proposed 10-mile linear park underneath the Miami-Dade Metrorail, to provide quality of life incentives to talented young adults.

City: Milledgeville, Georgia

  • The Democracy Lab

    Recipient: Twin Lakes Library System

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Creating a shared space in downtown Milledgeville, located next to City Hall and near a makerspace and a library, that will foster civic engagement through public events, meetings that gather residents and leaders to problem-solve, and resources that better connect civic institutions.

City: Palm Beach County, Florida

  • The Sunset Rises Again

    Recipient: West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

    Award: $171,650

    Aim: Creating a new cultural destination in the Historic Northwest District of West Palm Beach on the site of the Sunset Lounge, a former prominent jazz club, and surrounding land.

City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • 20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses

    Recipient: Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance

    Award: $146,000

    Aim: Increasing civic engagement and economic opportunity by launching book clubs in 20 Philadelphia neighborhoods for participants to study cooperative businesses and then form their own.

  • Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers

    Recipient: Reading Terminal Market Corp.

    Award: $84,674

    Aim: Building cultural bridges to Philadelphia’s immigrant communities with cooking classes celebrating ethnic food operated by chefs from Reading Terminal Market.

  • The Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship

    Recipient: Little Giant Creative

    Award: $308,640

    Aim: Increasing economic opportunity by using hip-hop to provide hands-on business training to members of low-income groups.

  • The Little Music Studio

    Recipient: Benjamin Bryant

    Award: $334,050

    Aim: Breaking down community barriers with The Little Music Studio, a traveling playground for musicians.

City: San Jose, California

  • Post Street Night Market

    Recipient: Justin Triano

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Expanding economic opportunity with a recurring night market that features local crafts, food and entertainment.

  • The MayFeria

    Recipient: Mexican Heritage Plaza

    Award: $125,000

    Aim: Increasing civic engagement and expanding economic opportunity in San Jose’s Mayfair neighborhood with The MayFeria, which will consist of folk life events, a community task force, and a coordinator to help identify and make better use of cultural and civic assets.

City: State College, Pennsylvania

  • Community Collaborative Ice Luminary Project

    Recipient: The Make Space

    Award: $51,450

    Aim: Increasing civic engagement through a maker event that encourages residents to make ice luminaries, share the mold for the luminaries with their neighbors, and set a record by lighting up the town.

City: St. Paul, Minnesota

  • I’m Going to Vote Today!

    Recipient: University of St. Thomas

    Award: $170,275

    Aim: Testing a new way to increase participation in local elections by distributing stickers that read “I'm Going to Vote Today” to eligible voters to wear on Election Day.

  • Front Lawn Placemaking Platform

    Recipient: The Musicant Group

    Award: $82,400

    Aim: Transforming front lawns from empty expanses of grass to vibrant places full of life through the development of a toolkit that encourages residents to create community hubs on their doorsteps.

City: Tallahassee, Florida

  • The Longest Table

    Recipient: City of Tallahassee, Office of the Mayor

    Award: $57,250

    Aim: Building cross-community relationships with an expanded series of community conversations over meals in 100 homes.

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.