Aberdeen is Local Proposal Finalist for the Knight Cities Challenge
What’s your best idea to make your local community more successful? This is the question applicants for the Knight Cities Challenge needed to answer. The Knight Foundation, according to their website, invests “in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers.” They state that their goal is to “foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.” The challenge seeks creative ideas from innovators to “make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work.” The ideas should focus on talent, opportunity, and/or engagement within the community the idea would serve. Additionally, applicants should also have a plan on how to put their idea into action. Winners of the competition will be awarded a share of the $5 million grant pool, and the grant will last for 18 months.
The grant dollars are to equip, furnish and communicate the availability of information and resources at the new library. Access to high-quality information (including in other languages) can really assist new families to access all of the great amenities of the region and help them be more engaged citizens. Julie M. Johnson
The application process for the 2017 challenge began in the fall. Applicants were asked three questions which needed to be answered in 100 words or less. The Knight Foundation wanted to know what the applicant was proposing to do, why it made sense in the applicant’s community, and about the team who would execute the project. The FAQ’s page on the Knight Foundation’s website detailed the criteria by which the applicant’s ideas are judged, “Initial applications will be reviewed and evaluated on the strength of your idea, its potential to advance talent, opportunity or engagement and your plan to execute the project. Finalists will be scored against five criteria: impact, innovation, inspiration, learning and capacity.” For the 2017 challenge 4,500 ideas were submitted. By the end of January, 144 finalists were named, including our very own Julie M. Johnson, J.D. She has been involved with the Knight Foundation for the last 10 years. As a volunteer, she chairs the Community Advisory Council for Knight in Aberdeen.
When asked what prompted her to apply for the challenge she responded “I learned that there was some need for an information place for new residence, and some energy around meeting this need. Given my previous work with Absolutely!Aberdeen, I was acutely aware of the need for greater information resources for new residents. I agreed to do the grant writing for the large collaboration as I’ve had experience in the past.” The A Place would be located at the new Aberdeen library, which is slated to open late summer 2017. When asked to what benefits this initiative would provide, she responded “Aberdeen is growing. We have a lot of new residents joining us at this time of growth. Keeping their needs for information about their new community is a continual challenge, including in other languages. The grant dollars are to equip, furnish and communicate the availability of information and resources at the new library. Access to high-quality information (including in other languages) can really assist new families to access all of the great amenities of the region and help them be more engaged citizens.” The results of the challenge will be announced in April and Johnson said she hopes the collaborative wins.