3 Middle Georgia Winners Featured in 2017 Knight Cities Challenge

George Abbott

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Congratulations to the 33 winners of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge. This is Knight Foundation’s third year running the challenge in our 26 communities. Each year we have posed a simple question: “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?” The rules are simple and so is the application process. We want to encourage ideas from anyone with a good idea and the ability to execute it.

We have been thrilled with the response. The imagination and creativity in Knight communities has been evident through the quantity and variety of innovative ideas that we have received. All have been focused on advancing one or more of the three pillars of city success: talent, opportunity and engagement. We are grateful to all who took the time to participate in the challenge and to share their ideas with us.

This year, we again received more than 4,500 submissions, taking the total number of applications over three years to more than 16,000. In January, we invited 144 finalists to submit full applications. From those finalists, we selected the 33 winners that we are excited to announce today.

The winning projects, subject to final grant agreements, are in 19 of the 26 Knight communities, and the average funding per idea averages slightly more than $147,000.

Since we began the challenge in 2014, I’ve read about 10,000 submissions and all 428 of the final submissions. What’s striking is that a good or even a great idea, isn’t enough to win the challenge. There are many good ideas that we haven’t funded. A great idea can make it to the finalists’ round, but that’s when the hard work of figuring out how to execute on the initial idea begins. Building a full-fledged proposal and plan from a 150-word idea is no easy feat. Winners face the even tougher task of putting the plan into action.

The winners embody some special characteristics. They share a willingness to step outside of their comfort zones, to try something new and to take risks. They are tenacious and able to pivot quickly while retaining focus on their goal. Each winner has demonstrated a hunger to learn, adapt and iterate, and to share knowledge with each other and the field.

We can’t wait for this year’s winners to begin their work. We look forward to seeing their projects come to life in Knight cities across the country and to capturing and sharing their experiences to inform our grant-making.

Keep up with the ongoing conversation and our work in communities on Twitter at #knightcities. Thank you to the readers and advisers who helped us review the applications, and thank you again to all who shared their ideas to make their city more successful.

Georgia Winners:

Back Lot Drive-In at the Tubman

Recipient: Tubman Museum

Award: $92,925

Aim: Expanding the reach of Macon’s art and museum district by transforming the parking lot of the Tubman Museum into a drive-in theater with screenings that coincide with exhibitions that support the museum’s mission to educate visitors about African-American art, history and culture.

Pop-Up Garage Park

Recipient: Cole Porter

Award: $25,465

Aim: Converting an abandoned parking garage into a vibrant, environmentally-friendly community space by introducing green space, art, tables and event programming.

The Year of Voting Dangerously

Recipient: Twin Lakes Library System

Award: $12,000

Aim: Engaging the community with a mobile voting booth that prompts residents to respond to pressing local issues and initiatives.