Submit an idea for a slice of Knight Foundation’s $5 million. 3 ideas received a total of $197,500 last year.

Submit an idea for a slice of Knight Foundation’s $5 million. 3 ideas received a total of $197,500 last year.
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What’s your best idea to make Charlotte more successful?

That’s the challenge that the Knight Foundation has thrown down.

The Knight Cities Challenge is now accepting ideas and will provide $5 million in grant funding. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 3.

Ideas should focus on one or all of three key areas: attracting and keeping talent, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.

Charles Thomas, the Charlotte Program Director of the The Knight Foundation, told me that last year there were 255 submissions from Charlotte, 10 finalist and 3 winners.


“The first round asks four questions – you must convey your idea convincingly in no more than 320 words,” said Tim Miner who was one of last year’s winners and received $85,000 to execute his idea. “The second round turns the first on its head, asking for an intense amount of detail about how you’re going to execute the idea, measure results and what resources you’ll be able to bring to bear.” Here’s more on how it works.

Miner’s one piece of advice is to “Build the ability to evolve into your framework and budget. The idea for Queen City Quiz Show continued to take form after we were accepted.”

If you’re selected, the Knight Foundation money is either sent via check or wire transfer.

Last year’s three winners from Charlotte


  • Recipient: City of Charlotte (Jason Lawrence)
  • Award: $85,000
  • Aim: Helping residents more easily connect with their local government and get involved with civic issues through pop-up events where they can meet elected officials, sign up for city services, and review area planning efforts.

Can Do Signs

  • Recipient: City of Charlotte (Sarah Hazel)
  • Award: $27,900
  • Aim: Rethinking municipal signs that typically tell people “what not to do,” to spur fun, imagination and positivity throughout Charlotte; the project will create signs that provide amusing, enchanting, fun options: You can dance! You can sing! You can skip!

Queen City Quiz Show

  • Recipient: Charlotte is Creative
  • Award: $85,000
  • Aim: Creating a mobile quiz show that will team local musicians and artists with cultural groups to entertain, enlighten and challenge diverse communities with questions about the city from the trivial to the pertinent and controversial.

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