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Key links:
Primary website:
knightfoundation.org
Primary Twitter:
@knightfdn

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation that funds a variety of causes, including journalism projects and organizations.

The foundation was founded in 1950 by the Knight brothers, who owned the Ohio-based Knight Newspapers, which later became Knight Ridder.

Since 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $400 million in journalism through midcareer training programs, endowed journalism chairs at universities, newsroom diversity projects, high school journalism training, the International Center for Journalists, the Knight Citizen News Network, the Knight Digital Media Center, and many other initiatives.

In recent years, Knight has increased its funding interest in journalism innovation, most notably through the Knight News Challenge, but also through other efforts. In early 2011, Knight launched a four-year, $4.2 million “test kitchen” at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, for instance, and partnered with the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation to embed technology fellows in newsrooms, a partnership that was renewed in 2013. Knight regularly gives grants to new journalism projects and news organizations and in 2011 began investing in news projects with the Knight Enterprise Fund. It also launched a smaller, quicker way of funding news projects in 2012 with the Knight Prototype Fund. However, it generally does not provide ongoing funding for individual outlets.

The Knight Foundation also gives grants to more established organizations, such as grants in 2013 of $985,000 to TED to measure the impact of innovative ideas and $3.1 million to New York University to provide community technology training.

(The Knight Foundation provides funding to the Nieman Foundation and the Nieman Journalism Lab, including for the creation of Encyclo.)

Knight News Challenge

The foundation runs the Knight News Challenge, a five-year annual contest that awards startup grants to innovative news projects around the world. The challenge gave its first awards in 2007 and its fifth round in June 2011. After its initial five-year run ended, the foundation announced that the News Challenge would be continued with three annual contests starting in 2012. The first of those contests focused on networks and resulted in six awards, and the second contest focused on data.

Through 2010, the challenge has funded 50 projects for $23 million. Past winners include EveryBlock, Spot.Us, Ushahidi, DocumentCloud, Chi-Town Daily News, Gotham Gazette, Global Voices, and Spot.Us.

The foundation and News Challenge’s primary purpose is to fuel innovation in journalism, and they have done so by broadening their focus to include the broader information needs of communities as well. The News Challenge also represented a shift toward a more open and participatory process for the foundation. The foundation requires each winning News Challenge project to release its code as an open-source resource for other organizations.

A video on the Knight Foundation’s mission:

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
Oct. 20, 2014 / Joshua Benton
Confused by all the various ways the Knight Foundation funds projects? Here’s a guide — The Knight Foundation (disclosure: a funder of Nieman Lab) gives money to a lot of journalism and journalism-adjacent projects. But they often work through a variety of contests and programs that aren’t always clea...
Oct. 16, 2014 / Justin Ellis
Breaking up the pledge drive: Boston’s WBUR wants to build a new model for public media funding — embership is having a moment in the world of media. Companies like The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times among others are attempting to develop new sources of revenue or deeper relationships with ...
Oct. 15, 2014 / Joshua Benton
Events, a speakers bureau, and education partnerships: 8 projects at news nonprofits get funded — Back in April, we told you about a new grant program that funds small innovation projects at nonprofit news organizations. The INNovation Fund — awkward capitalization courtesy of its home at the Investigative News Net...
Oct. 15, 2014 / Joseph Lichterman
Knight Prototype Fund announces funding for 18 new projects — Eighteen projects aimed at improving journalism or media are each receiving $35,000 in seed funding from Knight Foundation as part of the latest round of funding from the Knight Prototype Fund, the foundation just announ...
Aug. 27, 2014 / Justin Ellis
A new report looks for lessons in successful (and unsuccessful) Knight News Challenge winners — What makes a media innovation project succeed? That’s the question the Knight Foundation has been asking about perhaps the most prominent program supporting media innovation, the Knight News Challenge. Since 2007, ...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: October 17, 2013.
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New England Center for Investigative Reporting logo

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit investigative journalism project based at Boston University, the first such organization that covers local and regional issues. The Center was founded in 2009 and is funded by the university as well as a $400,000 Knight Foundation grant. The Center was staffed as of 2012 by four…

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Encyclo is made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation.
The Nieman Journalism Lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.
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