It’s more of an idea contest than a grant writing process. And that’s the fun of it.
Starting earlier today and continuing through November 14, the Knight Foundation asked the residents and stakeholders in 26 cities throughout the country for their ideas to make their city a better place to retain talented and educated professionals, create opportunity and promote civic engagement. Studies show that cities that do these three things well tend to be the best places to live no matter your place on the social and economic ladder. *
And Knight is putting its money where its mouth is by promising a $5 million investment in the best ideas in the 26 “Knight Cities”. This includes Long Beach. It does not include Los Angeles. Sorry, guys.
“We are looking for ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives in a press release. “To succeed cities need talented people who can contribute to their growth, new opportunities that are open to all, and ways to engage people to spur connections and civic action.”
Here’s the beauty of this program compared to other grant writing processes and online popularity contests.
The Knight Cities Challenge is designed to be open to anyone…non-profit, media mogul, student, or whoever. Instead of a long application process, Knight is looking for two 150 word essays and a twitter-friendly 140 character description. From there, a team of highly-prized, talented, well-educated, handsome, and sought after-experts** will review the ideas and give either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.
From there, the top scoring ideas will go into a sort-of grant process. However, to insure that its the best ideas and not the best grant writers who win the day, Knight Foundation staff will be available to help the non-grant-writing-professionals put their proposals together to level the playing field a little bit.
If you’re unsure of how to proceed, check out the Knight Cities website. If you’re still having trouble, they are going to have a series of online “office hours” to help people looking to submit ideas. If those don’t meet your schedule, just leave a comment in the comment area. I’ll check once a day and do my best to help.
In the meantime, I’m already pitching some ideas to community partners. So get your brains working, and may the best ideas win.
* Full Disclosure: Yes, LongBeachIze is going to submit a couple of ideas.
** Full Disclosure II: I am one of the readers that will be looking at proposals. No, none of the ones I look at will be for Long Beach.