The Knight News Challenge, and a Community of Knowledge-Sharing

9 Jul

In 2006, the Knight Foundation started the Knight News Challenge, committing $25 million over five years to “advance the future of news by funding new ways to digitally inform communities.”

Since the first winners were announced in 2007, grantees have included several projects which have been an inspiration to NextDrop. Ushahidi, for example, is a project born out of the 2008 post-election crisis in Kenya, used originally to quickly sort through information in order to map out violent outbreaks and peace efforts, and later adapted to a platform for use in other scenarios worldwide, notably natural disasters. FrontlineSMS is a system which allows journalists to inform and engage large groups of people at the grassroots level, without the need for internet access.

On Wednesday, June 22, it was announced that out of 1,641 applications, 16 projects had emerged to be named as 2011’s News Challenge winners. Of the $4.7 million awarded in grants this year, NextDrop took home $375,000.

Clearly, there are a lot of reasons for us to be excited here. This is the largest grant that NextDrop has received to date, by a considerable margin. This recognition shows a major vote of confidence in NextDrop, and gives us the resources to build and develop our team in order to be the best we can be. Also, it means that we can devote less of our energy to fundraising and more towards actually getting to work, which is what every startup dreams of in these stages. However, the award is particularly exciting for another reason.

With this award, the Knight Foundation is funding experimentation. It means that we do not have to be shy about taking risks, or working outside of our comfort zone. This kind of experimentation will allow NextDrop to expand on existing best practices and work towards establishing new ones. The liberty to strike out (and yes, potentially, to make mistakes) is what will allow us to deliver the best product possible. The Knight Foundation emphasizes transparency and documentation for all of its grantees, meaning we are now part of a community where other projects can learn from our process – our successes and our failures – and where we can learn from theirs. We encourage you to check out the other winners – we are honored to be in such great company.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Knight Foundation for these opportunities. Also, thanks to those responsible for the Knight-MIT Civic Media Conference, where the chance to meet new innovators may have opened the door for some exciting future collaborations!

One Response to “The Knight News Challenge, and a Community of Knowledge-Sharing”


    1. NextDrop Initiative: The Pilot Results - July 20, 2011

      [...] With great support from the local community in Hubli-Dharwad and with the recent boost from the Knight News Challenge – the team look poised to create sustainable [...]

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