Knight Community Info Challenge Organization Profiles

Knight Community Info Challenge Boot Camp

March 21 - March 25, 2010
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California

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Knight Community Info Challenge Organization Profiles

Beyond Bullets - The New York Community Trust

Project summary: As a way to raise the collective consciousness about the impact of gun violence, this grant will help launch a media campaign using youth reporters and roving anti-gun film festivals. Television, movies and music videos normalize carrying weapons and glamorize them as a source of personal power, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. Meanwhile, news media focus on sensational stories about gun-related homicides, but rarely work to illuminate the causes or portray effective community solutions. The “Beyond Bullets” media campaign will challenge the mainstream entertainment and news media’s narrative. The effort will offer in-depth youth reporting on the causes and costs of gun violence, and the unheralded - yet strong - efforts to combat it.

About the organization: Since 1924, The New York Community Trust has been the community foundation of the New York metropolitan area, an aggregate of funds created by charitable individuals, families, and businesses to improve the quality of life for all the area’s residents. Grants made from these funds - which now number more than 2,000 - meet the changing needs of children, youth and families; aid in community development; improve the environment; promote health; assist people with special needs; and support education, arts and human justice. In addition to making grants to a broad range of nonprofit agencies, The Trust responds to urgent problems in the city by bringing people together, working with other funders and issuing publications to help illuminate issues and explore their solutions. In 2008, The Trust made grants of $168 million from assets of $1.5 billion.

Fellow: Jon Alpert

Community Forums - Rhode Island Foundation

Project summary: As a way to promote community engagement around pressing concerns in a state where residents are known for their fierce independence, this grant will create a series of forums to be broadcast on public radio station WRNI. The conversations will also continue online through various social media. The project strives to unite Rhode Islanders around major issues in health, education, arts, the environment, economic development and human services. Presenting in-depth information and a balance of perspectives will encourage innovative solutions to the problems contributing to Rhode Island’s economic challenges.

About the organization: Founded in 1916, The Rhode Island Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the United States, and one of the few to serve an entire state. The foundation strives to be a catalyst for positive change in Rhode Island by inspiring philanthropy and taking a leadership role in working with partners to address the state’s most pressing issues and the needs of its diverse communities. The foundation has invested more than $242 million in Rhode Island in the past decade, and has accepted gifts of more than $246 million during that same period. Its discretionary grant-making focuses on six sectors: education, health, community and economic development, the environment, human services, and arts and culture. The foundation’s assets at the end of 2009 stood at more than $500 million.

Fellow: Kerrie Bennett

KidSpeak Neighborhood News - Michigan’s Children, a partner of the Skillman Foundation

Project summary: As a way to boost involvement in Detroit issues, this grant will help create a multimedia youth news service, where student reports will focus on neighborhoods and schools. Close to 40 percent of Detroit’s population is functionally illiterate, and many Detroit parents lack a high school diploma - creating obstacles to their children’s success. Also, many low-income families don’t have the Internet access that could bring them vital information about their communities. Engaging families by providing opportunities for their children to create high quality content will help fill the communications gap, bring young voices into public debate and empower residents and communities to create positive changes.

About the organization: Created in 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy whose chief aim is to help develop good schools and good neighborhoods for children.  Though grants are made throughout metropolitan Detroit, most grants are directed at six Detroit neighborhoods and toward innovative and successful schools throughout the city of Detroit.

Fellow: Cynthia (Cindy) Burton

Gables Home Page - Coral Gables Community Foundation

Project summary: To help strengthen community dialogue, this grant will support, a real-time source for news, including information by and about the area’s mature residents. This year, the site will add two partnerships: one with the University of Miami’s student newspaper for timely sports and campus coverage, and another with The Miami Herald, which will use Gables Home Page as a source for news and information. In addition Gables Home Page will provide a free venue for residents to post news, photos, commentary and classifieds.

About the organization: The mission of the Coral Gables Community Foundation (a nonprofit charitable organization) is to foster programs and initiatives that enhance the quality of life for people living and working in Coral Gables.

Fellow: Onelia Collazo Mendive

Digital Media Center - Akron Community Foundation

Project Summary: In order to strengthen community news and information-sharing, this grant will create a new digital media academy that trains residents to share news and information about their neighborhoods using cutting-edge technology. Citizen journalists of all ages will be given the training and tools to express their individual voices through the creation of news stories, music, documentaries, videos and other projects. Uploaded content will be broadcast on an open-application portal provided by the Akron Beacon Journal, which citizens can then tap into using their mobile phones, computers and other emerging technologies.

About the organization: Celebrating 54 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation is a $120 million philanthropic endowment with a growing family of more than 320 funds, including the Community Fund, which meets the community’s changing needs in health, human services, education, civic affairs and the arts.  In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the foundation, which works to improve the quality of life in greater Akron. It accepts charitable gifts and bequests from individuals, families, organizations and corporations committed to making a difference in the community for generations to come. To date, the foundation and its funds have awarded more than $82 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations.

Fellow: Donae Eckert

County Bounty - Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation

Project summary: To raise awareness of local history, needs and resources, this grant will help create an online treasure hunt in Chautauqua County, N.Y. A sprawling rural area with 44 municipalities, communities tend to be insular, which impedes regional progress.  Many residents are unaware of the area’s rich history and cultural assets. Brain drain is a concern, with many younger residents moving away. County Bounty, an online treasure hunt, will showcase the county and increase community pride while aiming to engage and retain residents under 40.

About the organization: The Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF) is committed to improving the northern Chautauqua community through the promotion of local philanthropy, targeted grant-making, local scholarships and leadership.  Since 1986, the organization has distributed more than $7.3 million within the community in the form of grants and scholarships.

Fellow: Diane Hannum

We the People - The Community Foundation of North Florida

Project summary: In an effort to revitalize the dialogue among the city’s diverse residents, this grant will help launch “The Village Square: We the People,” a 21st century virtual and real world public square.  The project will offer unique town hall forums in addition to constructive online engagement and a community problem-solving Wiki. Organizers aim to renew Tallahassee’s marketplace of ideas where good solutions rise from an informed citizenship, and abundant information can be channeled into constructive results.

About the organization: The Community Foundation of North Florida is a nonprofit public charity serving the 10-county Big Bend area by facilitating and promoting charitable giving and strengthening nonprofit organizations. The foundation helps people give in perpetuity to their favorite charities and helps nonprofit organizations with grants, education and endowment building expertise.

Fellow: Elizabeth (Liz) Joyner

Write for Arkansas - Arkansas Community Foundation

Project summary: In order to provide more in-depth coverage of local issues, this project will add five reporters to cover community and economic development issues for community newspapers in Arkansas. The reporters will write articles for print and blog about their communities and experiences on a new “Write for Arkansas” Web site. The additional reporting staff will help Arkansas residents and leaders have a greater understanding of the state’s challenges and needs. Meanwhile, the project’s online component will chronicle local issues from across the state and open a new channel of communication allowing residents to participate in the news.

About the organization: Arkansas Community Foundation has the capacity to engage communities in a thoughtful exploration of critical issues and can help assemble the resources to implement solutions.  Arkansas’ statewide community foundation has more than $120 million in assets and has provided more than $70 million in grants since it began operating in 1976.

Fellow: Sarah Kinser

Central Pennsylvania 2-1-1 - Centre Care Community Foundation

Project summary: In order to provide residents with vital civic information, this grant will help launch a 2-1-1 phone information service in 15 Pennsylvania counties. Residents will have access to round-the-clock answers to questions about local services for basic needs and emergencies, as well as general community information. While there will also be an online component, much of this area is without broadband Internet access, and phone service is likely to be the primary link.

About the organization: The Centre County Community Foundation’s mission is to help donors fulfill their philanthropic goals by building and maintaining a permanent collection of endowment funds.  The Foundation champions the betterment of Centre County for both present and future generations through trustworthy leadership shaping effective responses to community issues and opportunities.

Fellow: Molly Kunkel

Fellow: Helen Lyons

Open Indicators Consortium - Greater Lowell Community Foundation

Project summary: Despite the increasing availability of data, and the technology to analyze it deeply, the average person’s informed voice is missing in much of the public discourse in vital areas like health care, education and job growth. Debate is often defined by experts, lobbyists and pundits. As a counterweight to that trend, four community foundations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut will engage a range of local stakeholders to help develop easy-to-use and highly consumable analytical and visualization tools. They will include charts, maps, scorecards, dashboards, narrations and animations that reflect local stakeholders’ needs and preferences. These tools will ultimately help transform the quality and breadth of public discourse in communities, and eventually in the nation. In addition to the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, the project partners include The Boston Foundation, The Rhode Island Foundation and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

About the organization: Since its inception in 1997, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF), in Lowell, Mass. has focused on improving the quality of life for the people in the communities it serves. Today, the foundation is the leading philanthropic organization in the Greater Lowell/Merrimack Valley area providing leadership, education and financial support through a vast donor network to address a wide range of regional needs for charities, community groups and area students through academic scholarships and charitable foundations.

Fellow: Helen Lyons

Ready. Get Set. Learn. - The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County

Project summary: To raise awareness about the importance of school readiness for at-risk children, this grant will help launch a digital information campaign in Boulder, Colo. The Community Foundation has collected ten years of research showing that the achievement gap is a major problem facing Boulder County. The gap will continue to widen until the community invests further in early childhood education. But the broader community hasn’t fully grasped the issue’s importance. The “READY. GET SET. LEARN” campaign will help parents, business leaders and the general public understand that there is a direct connection between a community’s investment in early childhood education and the achievement gap that weighs down otherwise high-performing school systems. The campaign aims to create a groundswell of voices calling for someone to improve access to quality early care and education for Boulder County’s at-risk preschool students.

About the organization: The Community Foundation exists to improve the quality of life in Boulder County, now and forever, and to build a culture of giving. The foundation is the place where giving is informed and inspired to have the greatest impact on the vision of a better Boulder County. The foundation is committed to intimately understanding needs and connecting to the nonprofits that address those needs. Purpose and passion are the inspiration for everything the foundation does. Together, Boulder County residents and The Community Foundation can make a meaningful impact on fellow residents’ quality of life today and in the future.

Fellow: Gretchen Minekime

Public Interest News Service - Community Foundation of New Jersey

Project summary: To expand residents’ knowledge and understanding of New Jersey issues by creating an in-depth, public interest, online news service with discussion forums.

About the organization: The Community Foundation of New Jersey is an alliance of families, businesses, and foundations that work together to create lasting differences in lives and communities-today and tomorrow.  The Community Foundation is a platform where ideas are implemented for good.  The Foundation is a shared cross-generational response of like-minded individuals to current challenges and future needs. The Foundation is a place where change takes hold, and giving becomes legacy.

Fellow: John Mooney

Community Information Action Agenda - Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County

Project summary: In order to help meet the Wisconsin Rapids area’s information needs, the community foundation will evaluate the region’s changing media landscape, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses and create a community information action agenda. The plan formed will raise awareness about the availability of quality local news and information and broadband access while fostering support and partnerships for funding solutions.

About the organization: Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County (Wisconsin Rapds, Wis.) promotes strategic philanthropy, builds social capital and connects community resources for the common good.  The foundation works to create a resilient, thriving community that embraces and supports all people.  Established in 1994, the foundation serves 50,000 people in a geographic area of 200 square miles.

Fellow: Mary Olson

The Florida Independent - Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice

Project summary: To strengthen investigative reporting in Florida by creating a statewide, nonprofit online news network.

About the organization: As a community foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice operates under the principle of perpetuity, ensuring that gifts made to the Foundation will grow and have a lasting impact for the community. Founded in late 1995, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has awarded $93 million in grants to the community in the areas of arts and culture, health and human services, education, civic affairs, and the environment. In addition to making grants that benefit our region, the Foundation gives donors the power to make a difference in their community.

Fellow: Mark S. Pritchett - Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation

Project summary: To attract and retain young adults in Duluth and Superior, the community foundation created, an online portal designed to help young adults share information and ideas. Currently, the portal provides information on working, living, playing and connecting in the Twin Ports. This grant will help increase site interactivity, enhance content, conduct research and increase guerrilla marketing tactics so TheDuSu can better provide the information young people need to thrive in the area.

About the organization: The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation encourages private giving for the public good. The community foundation is a permanent community endowment, built by gifts from hundreds of individuals and organizations. Guided by a 12-member board of volunteer civic leaders, the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations and to individuals for scholarships and provides leadership on important community initiatives in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1983, it has distributed $33 million and currently holds more than 280 different funds, each with its own charitable purpose.

Fellow: Elizabeth (Beth) Probst

Envision Bay Area - Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Project summary: As a way to increase resident involvement in Northern California’s pressing land use issues, this grant will help launch an Internet, public radio, television and community information campaign called “Envision Bay Area.” Land use planning is a mystery to many people, yet it has a great impact on their lives and the community. Using a series of “what if” scenarios enhanced by visualization tools, this project will provide residents with the information they need to develop a deeper understanding of policy decisions and their impact.

About the organization: Silicon Valley Community Foundation is a catalyst and leader for innovative solutions to the region’s most challenging problems. Serving all of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the community foundation has $1.5 billion in assets under management and 1,500 philanthropic funds. The community foundation provides grants through donor advised and corporate funds in addition to its own Community Endowment Fund. In addition, the community foundation serves as a regional center for philanthropy, providing donors simple and effective ways to give locally and around the world. Silicon Valley Community Foundation launched in January 2007 following the landmark merger of Community Foundation Silicon Valley and Peninsula Community Foundation and is now one of the largest community foundations in the nation.

Fellow: Margot Rawlins - Lander Community Foundation

Project summary: To increase the availability of information on complex state issues, this grant will support, which examines Wyoming public policy and politics. Historically, Wyoming’s economy and culture have been rooted in natural resource industries including agriculture, timber, mining and oil and gas development. Like many energy colonies with small populations and vast landscapes, industrial proponents have heavily influenced Wyoming policies. will increase its staff and reporting budget to further engage Wyoming’s residents, lawmakers, educators and business people through an independent, alternative source of content and analysis.

About the organization: Located in rural, central Wyoming, the Lander Community Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people of Lander and acts as a catalyst for positive community enhancement. The foundation encourages, supports and rewards excellence in the performance of nonprofits.

Fellow: Heather Scureman

River Partnership Online Network - The River Partnership of Community Foundations

Project summary: In an effort to inform and engage residents around Mississippi River issues, a coalition of community foundations within the River Partnership of Community Foundations will launch a series of local Web sites that translate national and regional stories into the local context. Also, on the Web, residents will be able to make their voices heard on issues of water quality and the importance of sustainable development on the rivers’ shores while picking up tips to help river life.

About the organization: The River Partnership of Community Foundations was created in 2006 as a collaborative effort among 18 community foundations located in the ten-state Mississippi River Corridor region who share an interest in how the Mississippi River and its tributaries contribute to the economic, cultural, and environmental vitality of their communities.  The River Partnership embraces two equally important organizing principles: a shared passion for and commitment to a treasured natural resource (the Mississippi River and its tributaries), including the need to protect and restore these rivers; and a belief that community foundations represent a new civic leadership infrastructure for the 21st Century. Given these two principles, this Partnership has emerged to help build and enhance the capacity of community foundations to make positive impacts that benefit the river and its communities.  The mission of the River Partnership of Community Foundations is to bolster the capacity and impact of community foundations to improve the environmental, economic and cultural vitality of the communities along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Fellow: Justin Thiltgen

Community News Matters - The Chicago Community Trust

Project summary: To stimulate new ways to provide the Chicago region with critical local news and information, The Chicago Community Trust has launched “Community News Matters,” a grant program to support the city’s media innovators. Projects will be designed to increase the flow of high-quality information to the public and to develop new distribution and business models. In addition, the Trust will conduct a study examining the region’s information infrastructure - its strengths and weaknesses - and convene a conference on the topic.

About the organization: For 94 years, The Chicago Community Trust, the region’s community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by offering grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2009, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $100 million to nonprofit organizations.  From strengthening community schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance the region.

Fellow: Vivian Vahlberg

GreenSpace- Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

Project summary: To encourage support for creating more livable communities, this grant will develop an information hub for the seven-county region of southeast Michigan that will inform residents about how to be good stewards of the area’s natural resources. The “GreenSpace” project will bring together all the available information on the topic - benefiting anyone from a family searching for a place to hike or bike, to a resident advocating for more parks and recreation and a government official developing land use policy. The hub will encourage users to contribute content and share links to information, helping to nurture leadership and action on important issues.

About the organization: The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations committed to the future of southeast Michigan.  The Foundation works to improve the region’s quality of life by connecting those who care with causes that matter.  The Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs.  Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $390 million through more than 34,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.

Fellow: Susanna Weckerle

ACTion Alexandria- ACT for Alexandria

Project Summary: To encourage community problem-solving in Alexandria, Va., this effort will create an online site where residents can post problems, debate solutions and decide on a course of action. While email lists have greatly improved the way neighbors disseminate local information, this project aims to provide the next generation platform for communities to freely share their thoughts and beliefs and act on them to improve their city.

About the organization: ACT for Alexandria (Virginia) is a community foundation with the mission of raising the level and effectiveness of community engagement and giving for the benefit of all Alexandria.  ACT is celebrating five years of service to the community serving as a convener and collaborator around basic human needs services. Focusing on youth and families, ACT has partnered with the other nonprofits and the city government to address these and related issues in the community. 

Fellow: Brandi Yee


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