Knight Cities Challenge Names 144 Finalists, One in Aberdeen


MIAMI: Jan. 17th
   The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced 144 finalists in the third annual Knight Cities Challenge, a national call for ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work.
   Open to innovators of all types, the Knight Cities Challenge asked applicants to answer the question: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?
   More than 4,500 applicants answered the call and proposed a wide range of ideas to make cities more successful, from technology and other solutions that better connect local government with the public and increase voter engagement, to creating public spaces – parks, trails, pools, and even treehouses – that connect people from diverse backgrounds and contribute to economic growth. Many of the projects also address pressing community challenges, proposing ideas to break down racial divides, repair blighted neighborhoods, and address social and economic inequities.

Photo courtesy Knight Foundation Website.
Photo courtesy Knight Foundation Website.

   Submissions came from many nonprofit and government organizations, as well as design experts, urban planning organizations and individuals focused on making their cities more successful. Each of the ideas focuses on one or more of three drivers of city success:

  • Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep talented people;
  • Opportunity: Ideas that expand economic prospects and break down divides;
  • Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.

A full list of the finalists can be found at Winners, who will receive a share of up to $5 million, will be announced in spring 2017.
   “The finalists use creativity and inventiveness to tackle community challenges and realize new opportunities, proposing ideas that are unique to their city, but also hold lessons and inspiration for civic innovators across the country,” said George Abbott, Knight Foundation director for community and national initiatives.
   Applicants have to follow only two rules: 1) A submission may come from anywhere, but the project must benefit one or more of 26 Knight communities (; and 2) The idea should focus on one or all of three key drivers of city success, talent, opportunity and engagement, as outlined above.
   Now in its third year, the challenge is part of a three-year, $15 million commitment that the Knight Foundation launched in the fall of 2014. Since then, the Knight Cities Challenge has named a total of 69 winning ideas over its first and second years. For more information, visit
South Dakota Knight Cities Challenge Finalist 2017
Aberdeen, South Dakota: 
   The A Place (submitted by Julie M. Johnson, NSU Instructor of Speech Communications and Business Management): Opening a pathway to more opportunity and civic engagement by creating a one-stop information and assistance center for immigrants and New Americans.
   The Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots that invests in journalism, the arts, and the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Their goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which they believe essential for a healthy democracy.

The Knight Foundation