Today we’re pleased to announce the generous support of the Knight Foundation for Code for America. The Foundation’s $250,000 grant, as part of its Technology for Engagement Initiative, will ensure the participation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Boulder, Colorado, in our 2011 program.
The Knight Foundation has a long and impressive history of supporting journalism and fostering informed and engaged communities. In recent years, the Foundation began investing in online journalism, most notably with its annual competition for the most innovative use of local news, the Knight News Challenge (which — we’re thrilled to note — was won this past year by our friends sharing their offices with us, Stamen Design). Starting with this grant, Knight is hoping to translate that online energy into on-the-ground action with the Technology for Engagement Initiative, a $2.23 million investment in projects that use the latest digital tools to help people connect for the greater good. Code for America is proud to be one of the five projects chosen to inaugurate the initiative.
We join an impressive group of grantees. According to Damian Thorman, Knight Foundation’s national program director, “These projects complement Knight Foundation’s focus on fostering informed and engaged communities.” CEOs for Cities and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes’ Jumo seek to develop the infrastructure for more meaningful and influential interactions in communities between citizens, community groups, and governments, and the Craigslist Foundation’s idea-sharing site offers new resources and methods for coming together and solving problems. Having worked in the digital games industry for eight years, I’m personally excited about Emerson College’s Engagement Game Lab’s Community PlanIt project, which uses games as a way to get citizens involved in urban planning. For our part, Code for America will be building a citizen engagement portal in Philadelphia and an issue resolution application in Boulder.
Each project shares the common goal of leveraging technology to strengthen communities and improve quality of life — a vitally important and promising task, especially now, as Paula Ellis, Knight’s VP for Strategic Initiatives, explained:
“Certainly, we live in an age of skepticism, with fewer folks trusting government and our society’s big institutions. At the same time, Americans -especially the young Millenials- are looking for new ways to make a difference. Harnessing digital technology is one way to inspire neighbors to work together to solve their most entrenched problems.”
With the support of the Knight Foundation and in collaboration with our fellow grantees, we look forward to working towards that goal.