The private nonprofit Knight Foundation has released the 37 funded winners of the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge. The winning ideas and project concepts were culled from over 4,500 submissions—and this is just the competition’s second year. The challenge? The Foundation asked individuals, nonprofits, the government, and businesses to bring their best and biggest ideas and plans for improving cities and urban life across a range of 26 communities where the Foundation invests. Applications could come from anywhere. This year’s winning ideas focus on 19 of the 26 Knight-funded communities. The Foundation kept their requirements broad, with only one other rule. Ideas had to address one or more of these three key themes: talent, opportunity, and engagement.
The winning ideas span urban mobilization, transportation, and infrastructure (bike parks,pedestrian amenities) to job training (training locals to convert old diseased wood into furniture) to rethinking urban banalities (injecting some humor and fun into municipal signage). Here’s a look at four of the winners.
Tired-a-lot by Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries | $95,434 | submitted by Réna Bradley (Ft. Wayne, Ind.)
Tired-a-lot proposes a design studio for local youth in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with a focus on fixing up vacant lots using low-cost solutions.
Urban Glen by Phillip Trocquet | $4,000 | submitted by Phillip Trocquet (Columbus, GA)
This concept for Columbus Georgia brings “urban glens” of nature and community back into vacant lots with hammocks, lights, and trees.
CrownTownHall by the City of Charlotte | $85,000 | submitted by Jason Lawrence (Charlotte, N.C.)
The idea behind CrownTownHall: to help foster greater civic engagement through local pop-up events featuring elected officials, as well as planning and city service outreach, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Sensors in a Shoebox by the University of Michigan | $138,339 | submitted by Elizabeth Birr Moje (Detroit)
A University of Michigan team will create a program to teach and train Detroit youth in using sensors to gather urban environmental data (such as temperature, air quality, and traffic) and how to apply lessons learned toward improving their own neighborhoods.
The Knight Foundation awarded $5 million spread across the 37 winning projects. For those who are curious, here is a full list of past Knight-funded ideas. The portal includes the winners of other Knight challenges, too.