What’s your $5,000 idea to build a better city?

What is the Emerging City Champions Program?

Emerging City Champions is a fellowship program for young civic innovators with transformative ideas. We are looking for future city leaders with creative solutions to enhance civic engagement, improve mobility, and activate public life in public spaces.

Here’s how it works:

  • Apply online with a new project or program that will make your city more successful.
  • 20 Champions will be selected by a review panel of city building experts
  • Successful applicants will be enrolled in the Emerging City Champions Studio, hosted in Toronto from June 24-27, 2017 (all travel expenses covered)
  • Champions receive $5,000 in seed funding to implement their project in one year

You provide the vision, drive, and determination. We’ll provide guidance and some funds to get you started. Other Emerging City Champions include:

  • Connections to a diverse and inspiring network of their peers from across the country.
  • Ongoing support from city building experts.
  • Professional training in media,
  • Opportunities to be publicly recognized and promoted by 8 80 Cities and the Knight Foundation.

Who Should Apply?

The Emerging City Champions is open to anyone with an innovative project idea and the drive to see it through. Applicants may be activists, tactical urbanists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, or architects; everyone is welcome. We want diverse voices with the passion, the talent and the commitment to improve their neighborhood or city.

Successful applicants must:

  • Be between the ages 19-35
  • Have a project idea that takes place in or benefits one of the 26 communities where the Knight Foundation invests:
  • The 26 communities are:

    Akron, Ohio

    Charlotte, N.C.


    Macon, Ga.

    Milledgeville, Ga.

    Wichita, Kan.



    San Jose, Calif.

    St. Paul, Minn.

    Myrtle Beach, S.C.

    Aberdeen, S.D.

    Biloxi, Miss.

    Boulder, Colo.

    Bradenton, Fla.

    Palm Beach Co., Fla.

    Columbia, S.C.

    Columbus, Ga.

    Duluth, Minn.

    Fort Wayne, Ind.

    State College, Pa.

    Gary, Ind.

    Grand Forks, N.D.

    Lexington, Ky.

    Long Beach, Calif.

    Tallahassee, Fla.

  • The list of cities, and the map:

  • Have necessary documents and be available to attend the Emerging City Champions Studio in Toronto, Canada on June 24-27, 2017
  • Have a project idea that focuses on at least one of the following elements of a livable community: enhancing civic engagement, improving mobility, and activating public life in public space.


What kind of projects are we looking for?

Your ideas should:

  • Be implementable in the short term (under 12 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

Contribute to civic engagement, active mobility (walking and cycling) networks, or vibrant public spaces

Visit the 2016 Projects page to learn more about past Champions.