Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program

Who is eligible for this program?

There are only three eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must be between the ages of 19-35 at the time of applying.
  • Applicants must be able to travel to Canada for the Emerging City Champions Studio on June 15-19, 2018. This requires that you have a valid passport.
  • The community where applicants will implement their project must be located in one of the 26 communities where Knight Foundation invests.

What is included in the program?

Participants will receive:

  • Enrolment in the Emerging City Champions Studio in Toronto, Canada to develop leadership and project management skills such as stakeholder engagement, budgeting, and storytelling. All travel expenses to the Studio are covered by the program.
  • $5,000 USD in seed funding to implement a community project.
  • Ongoing support and mentorship from city building experts.
  • Participation in a national network of peers and community leaders.
  • Opportunities to be publicly recognized and promoted by 8 80 Cities and the Knight Foundation.

What kind of project ideas are you looking for?

Your project should:

  • Be implementable within twelve months.
  • Be innovative with an emphasis on addressing existing community needs.
  • Be managed and led by you, but developed through community collaboration.
  • Be affordable to implement and free for the public to enjoy

Can I apply for funding for a project that is already .underway?

Yes, we encourage applications for both new and existing projects. If your project is already underway, your application should demonstrate how your participation in the program will help you scale up or advance the goals of your current work.

If I’m selected, what would you expect me to do as an Emerging City Champion?

Each Champion is obligated to:

  • Attend the Emerging City Champions Studio in Toronto, Canada.
  • Implement (at minimum) one community project.
  • Participate in ongoing networking and skill-building opportunities.
  • Submit regular project updates via blog posts, videos, or other media content.
  • Submit a final report to summarize progress and accomplishments. This report can take various media forms (ie. video, blog post, posters, etc.).

How long is the grant period?

The Emerging City Champions is a year-long program, running from June 2018-June 2019.

How many Champions will be selected?

20 people will be selected to participate in the program.

How much funding is available?

Each Champion will receive a $5,000 USD grant to implement their proposed idea or project.

Do I need to raise matching funds?

No. You do not need to raise matching funds to qualify for the Emerging City Champions program.

Who manages the program?

The program is managed by 8 80 Cities, a non-profit organization that exists to create safe and happy cities that prioritize people’s well-being. The program is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Is there anything that the Emerging City Champions program cannot fund?

Internal Revenue Service regulations on private foundations define some items Knight Foundation can and cannot fund. We are prohibited from making grants:

  • to carry on propaganda, or otherwise attempt to influence legislation (as explained in Internal Revenue Code 4945(d)(1));
  • to influence the outcome of any specific public election, or to carry on a partisan voter registration drive (directly or indirectly) (as explained in Internal Revenue Code 4945(d)(2)).

What is the intellectual property licensing policy?

The intellectual property developed using Knight Foundation grant funds generally will need to be
 released to the public under an open-source license. We make exceptions in a limited number of cases; the criteria are spelled out in our intellectual property licensing policy.

About the Application

When will the application be open?

The online application opens on March 5, 2018. The competition closes at 11:59 pm (EST) on April 2, 2018. Late entries will not be considered.

What are the criteria for a successful application?

Applications will be reviewed and evaluated on the strength of the project idea, and its potential to enhance civic engagement, improve mobility, and activate public life in public spaces. Finalists will be scored against three criteria: impact, innovation, and capacity.

What are the guidelines for the multimedia submission?

All applications must include a multimedia submission that communicates the following: 1) what is your project idea, 2) how is your project idea innovative and impactful, 3) who will benefit, and why does your community need this project. You are free to use any digital format (blog post, video, slideshow, poster, etc.) as long as it is shareable online. The submission must be readable/viewable in five minutes or less.

How many different ideas can I submit?

You may submit as many ideas as you would like.

Who decides the finalists and winners?

The Knight Foundation and 8 80 Cities will select the Champions in partnership with a review panel of past program participants and city build experts.

When will I be updated on the status of my application?

We will announce the winners in May 2018.

About You

Who should apply?

We are looking for people with new ideas and fresh perspectives on civic challenges. This program is for talented people with potential who are ready to take their city building work to the next level. We have a preference for individuals who have already demonstrated impact in their community but may need new networking and training opportunities to meet their potential.

Do I need to be based in a community where the Knight Foundation invests?

No, but your project needs to be carried out in one of the 26 communities where Knight Foundation invests. You’ll need a local partner if you’re not based in a Knight community.

Do I need to be a non-profit to apply?

No. Applicants may apply independently, or in affiliation with non-profit, for-profit, and/or government entities.

Is there an age requirement?

Yes. Applicants must be between the ages of 19-35 at the time of applying.

Can groups, co-founders, or pairs apply?

We will be selecting individuals, not groups or pairs, to participate in the program.

I received a grant from the Knight Foundation in the past. Can I apply for the Emerging City Champions?

Yes. Prior funding does not affect eligibility for the Emerging City Champions program.

I applied to the Emerging City Champions program last year. Can I apply again this year?

Yes. We encourage you to reapply if you still meet the eligibility requirements.

Additional questions about the program or application process? Email us at and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Questions about the program?

Email us at