Twenty-two projects that seek to provide voters with better information and increase their participation before, during and after elections will receive $3.2 million as winners of the Knight News Challenge.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation made the announcement last week at a convening hosted by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at The University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication.
Two primary themes emerged among the winning projects: Several address the need to provide voters with better news and information about candidates and issues, while others focus on increasing voter engagement in the election process.
The ideas range from offering new ways to bring more transparency to campaign financing to enlisting barbershops to spread information on candidates and issues.
Ten of the winners will receive investments of $200,000 to $525,000 each, while 12 early-stage ideas will receive $35,000 each through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps people explore early-stage media and information ideas.
“Focusing on the critical area of elections, the winners explore new ways to use data and technology to enable citizens to determine their own best interests,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation.
“The winning projects offer the opportunity to advance journalism innovation, while helping to ensure voters have the information they need to make decisions at the polls and become more involved and engaged in the issues that affect their communities,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism.
Launched in February, the Knight News Challenge on Election is an initiative of Knight Foundation supported by the Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation. Knight contributed $2.55 million to the challenge. The Democracy Fund and Hewlett Foundation each contributed $250,000 to the challenge, and the Rita Allen Foundation contributed $150,000.
“Finding new ways to inform and engage voters is going to require ideas and action from government, nonprofit, media and technology. This group of winners is bringing an exciting range of expertise and creativity—which will support election officials in reaching out to voters and solve some challenges voters face when trying to cast a ballot,” said Adam Ambrogi, program director for responsive politics at the Democracy Fund.
“The Hewlett Foundation is pleased to collaborate with other funders to support these new civic engagement projects as part of the Knight News Challenge,” said Kelly Born, program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative. “The winning projects hold great promise for informing citizens and journalists, and enabling them to play their parts in our system of representative democracy.”
“We applaud the Knight Foundation for leading this collaborative effort to spur new problem-solving approaches in the field of civic engagement. By joining together to invest in early-stage ideas, we will amplify the potential for impact of the winning projects, spur collaboration in the field, and enable others to replicate successful approaches,” said Elizabeth Good Christopherson, president and chief executive officer of the Rita Allen Foundation.
The Knight News Challenge asked innovators for ideas that better inform citizens and encourage civic participation before, during and after elections.
To learn more about the winning projects, click here.