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Knight Foundation awards $5 million for 32 innovative urban projects

One Knight Cities Challenge winner from Akron, Ohio will launch a service that sends subscribers monthly shipments of local goods in a box. (Unbox Akron)

The Knight Foundation is pushing urban innovation into new areas with $5 million in awards for 32 projects that are notably edgy and distinctive. The winning projects are in a dozen of the 26 U. S. cities where Knight already invests. They are the second installment of $15 million in prizes to be awarded over three years.

In Detroit, hair stylists and barbers will be paired with landscape contractors for “The Buzz,” a collaborative approach to mowing and maintaining vacant lots. In Akron, Ohio, members of the Bhutanese refugee community will help transform unused housing into a temporary Airbnb hostel.

To foster conversation among strangers, Charlotte, North Carolina will install its signature “porch swings” in public locations. Philadelphia will create an “immigrant innovation hub” with low-cost space for entrepreneurs, language assistance, workshops and training.

The competition attracted more than 7,000 pitches. In an announcement issued today, Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, says the challenge will “strengthen a network of civic innovators” reshaping the nation’s cities. 

The full list of Knight Cities Challenge winners is here.

Knight Foundation

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