2017 Knight Cities Challenge Winners

Introducing the 33 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge


Challenge Winners!

The 33 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge were selected from more than 4,500 applicants.

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City: Aberdeen, South Dakota

  • The A Place

    Recipient: Aberdeen Area Community Foundation

    Award: $35,000

    Aim: Opening a pathway to more opportunity and civic engagement by creating a one-stop information and assistance center for immigrants and New Americans.

City: Akron, Ohio

  • Innerbelt National Forest

    Recipient: Hunter Franks

    Award: $214,420

    Aim: Reconnecting two socially and physically isolated neighborhoods by replacing a closed freeway in Akron with a lush forest and public space.

  • @PLAY

    Recipient: Art x Love LLC

    Award: $241,000

    Aim: Encouraging deeper community connections through custom games and recreational activities that highlight the unique history, identity and character of each of the city’s communities.

City: Biloxi, Mississippi

  • Witnessing the Beach

    Recipient: Gulf Coast Community Design Studio

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Engaging the public across race, income and age differences through a series of community gathering and discussion spaces at the beach along the path of the “wade-in” protests, which led to the desegregation of the public beach in 1968.

City: Bradenton, Florida

  • Speak Up Bradenton

    Recipient: Manatee County Government

    Award: $32,000

    Aim: Encouraging greater civic engagement by opening up avenues for citizens to participate in government decision-making in non-traditional settings such as bus stops, landmarks and other public gathering places.

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Rail Trail Grove & Field

    Recipient: Charlotte Center City Partners

    Award: $150,200

    Aim: Encouraging economic development and city vibrancy by creating a lively place to connect with nature and neighbors along Charlotte’s light rail line. The space will also help link a retail employment center to the nearest transit stop.

  • Your Move, Charlotte

    Recipient: Varian Shrum

    Award: $138,875

    Aim: Strengthening connections between citizens and local government through a weekly podcast and follow-up roundtable, in which government representatives and millennials engage on local issues.

City: Columbia, South Carolina

  • The State’s Front Porch

    Recipient: City of Columbia

    Award: $195,000

    Aim: Encouraging residents to connect with their government by reimagining the State House as a front porch for all, including seating, events and alternative work spaces throughout the State House grounds.

City: Detroit, Michigan

  • Atwater Beach

    Recipient: Detroit RiverFront Conservancy

    Award: $225,000

    Aim: Further activating the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city’s Atwater Street.

  • Better Buildings, Better Blocks

    Recipient: Building Community Value

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Providing a pipeline for minorities into real estate jobs, by teaching the fundamentals of small-scale property development and providing initial project financing.

  • Design Center in a Box: A Place for Informed Community Exchange

    Recipient: City of Detroit Planning and Development Department

    Award: $205,000

    Aim: Promoting civic engagement by creating pop-up city planning offices where residents can connect with city planning staff and others to exchange ideas and become informed about the design and planning work happening in their neighborhood and the city at large.

  • Detroit’s Slow Roll

    Recipient: Detroit Bike City

    Award: $129,400

    Aim: Leveraging the 25,000 cyclists who participate in Slow Roll Detroit and demonstrating how to engage Detroit’s nonprofit sector, drive renewal and smile while doing it.

  • Happy 18th Birthday! Local Citizenship Kit

    Recipient: Citizen Detroit

    Award: $101,000

    Aim: Celebrating Detroiters becoming eligible to vote by sending them a local citizenship kit in the mail on their 18th birthday.

City: Duluth, Minnesota

  • Making Canal Park Pop

    Recipient: City of Duluth

    Award: $200,000

    Aim: Connecting residents to both Canal Park and to each other by creating a pop-up parklet that will encourage more people to visit.

City: Gary, Indiana

  • City Church Ruins Garden

    Recipient: City of Gary Redevelopment Commission

    Award: $163,333

    Aim: Making downtown more vibrant by transforming a historic, abandoned Gothic church in downtown into a ruins garden and event space.

City: Grand Forks, North Dakota

  • The Grand Forks Freezeway

    Recipient: Nicholas Jensen

    Award: $141,140

    Aim: Inspiring winter fun and city pride by turning unused bike paths into ice skating paths during winter.

City: Lexington, Kentucky

  • Plant&Play

    Recipient: North Limestone Community Development Corp.

    Award: $125,000

    Aim: Building an adventure playscape and community garden in Castlewood Park, a 30-acre neighborhood park on the north end of Lexington.

City: Macon, Georgia

  • Back Lot Drive-In at the Tubman

    Recipient: Tubman Museum

    Award: $92,925

    Aim: Expanding the reach of Macon’s art and museum district by transforming the parking lot of the Tubman Museum into a drive-in theater with screenings that coincide with exhibitions that support the museum’s mission to educate visitors about African-American art, history and culture.

  • Pop-Up Garage Park

    Recipient: Cole Porter

    Award: $25,465

    Aim: Converting an abandoned parking garage into a vibrant, environmentally-friendly community space by introducing green space, art, tables and event programming.

City: Miami, Florida

  • Civic Incite: Citizens Setting the Agenda

    Recipient: Civic Incite

    Award: $105,595

    Aim: Inspiring civic engagement with an online platform that tracks public meetings and legislation across cities to promote in-person engagement with local governments.

  • Miami-Dade Quickbuild Program

    Recipient: Street Plans Collaborative

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Establishing a program within Miami-Dade County in partnership with local transportation nonprofit Green Mobility Network that advances low-cost, quick-build transportation and open space projects.

  • Rep(resentative) Miami

    Recipient: Engage Miami

    Award: $119,800

    Aim: Breaking down barriers to civic participation by putting clear, actionable information about local elected officials directly into citizens’ hands.

City: Milledgeville, Georgia

  • The Year of Voting Dangerously

    Recipient: Twin Lakes Library System

    Award: $12,000

    Aim: Engaging the community with a mobile voting booth that prompts residents to respond to pressing local issues and initiatives.

City: Palm Beach County, Florida

  • 12 for 12: Popup to Rent

    Recipient: City of West Palm beach

    Award: $180,000

    Aim: Expanding on the success of a pilot pop-up gallery project by inviting local talent to activate 12 empty storefront spaces as an economic catalyst for West Palm Beach.

City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • A Dream Deferred: PHL Redlining – Past, Present, Future

    Recipient: Little Giant Creative

    Award: $300,000

    Aim: Building more equitable communities by launching a series of convenings across several cities where decision-makers, social entrepreneurs, activists and innovators discuss equitable community development.

  • PHL Participatory Design Lab

    Recipient: City of Philadelphia

    Award: $338,000

    Aim: Providing a space for Philadelphians to design city service solutions with a mobile, participatory city design lab that will travel from neighborhood to neighborhood.

  • Tabadul: [Re]Presenting and [Ex]Changing Our America

    Recipient: Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

    Award: $180,000

    Aim: Creating forums for cultural exchange that connect communities and activate public spaces through photographic displays of youths’ expressions of identity.

  • Up Up & Away: Building a Programming Space for Comics & Beyond

    Recipient: Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Creating a space where diverse communities of aspiring comic creators can attend workshops and receive professional development.

  • Vendor Village in the Park: Vending to Vibrancy

    Recipient: Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Corp.

    Award: $175,478

    Aim: Providing entrepreneurial opportunities and connecting diverse communities by opening a marketplace for immigrant cuisine in Mifflin Square Park.

City: San Jose, California

  • Local Color

    Recipient: Exhibition District

    Award: $180,000

    Aim: Activating vacant commercial sites with a creative bazaar featuring artist studios alongside modular, open spaces for multidisciplinary community learning and teaching.

  • Reimagining the City: City Designer for San Jose

    Recipient: City of San Jose

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Working to ensure San Jose develops into a walkable, green and engaged metropolis by hiring a visionary chief architect.

City: St. Paul, Minnesota

  • Pop-Up Power to the People

    Recipient: City of St. Paul

    Award: $73,200

    Aim: Creating a suite of fun civic engagement tools that gives St. Paul residents the power to design their own community meetings.

City: Wichita, Kansas

  • Horizontes

    Recipient: Armando Minjarez-Monarrez

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Connecting two neighborhoods by painting murals depicting neighborhood residents through an industrial corridor that separates them and engaging residents to reflect on what a “new horizon” for the neighborhood would look like.

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.