Frequently Asked Questions

When will the application be open?

The online application opens on April 3, 2017. The competition closes at 11:59pm (EST) on April 26, 2017. Late entries will not be considered.

Do I need to be based in a Knight community to apply?

No, but your idea needs to be carried out in a Knight community. 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. The program is open to any individuals between the ages of 19-35. Applicants may be affiliated with non-profits, for-profits, and/or governments.

Do I need to raise matching funds?

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

Who decides on finalists and winners?

The Knight Foundation and 8 80 Cities will select the Champions. We will have a review panel composed of experts in the field.

What are the guidelines for the multimedia submission?

All applications must include a multimedia submission that communicates the following: 1) how is your project idea innovative and impactful, 2) who will benefit and why does your community need this project, and 3) how will you implement the project. You are free to use any format you like (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 much money is available?

Each Champion will receive a $5,000 grant that they can use to execute their proposed idea or project.

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
  • 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 2017-June 2018.

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

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

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

Yes. We encourage you to reapply, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

When will the winners be announced?

We will announce the winners in early May 2017.

How soon will I hear the decision on my application?

We will confirm your submission as soon as we receive it. We will announce the winners in May 2016.

If my proposal isn’t accepted, will I know why?

We expect to receive a large number of applications and will be unable to comment on each one. We will be unable to share the exact reasons for declining applicants.

What are the intellectual property terms of the Emerging City Champions program?

If you are selected, you will own your intellectual property. However, under most funding mechanisms, you will be required to release what you make as open source code (for software) or with a Creative Commons license (for content and documentation).

Legal details

Grants to non-profits have a strict requirement: Any software developed with grant money must be released as open source (typically under GNU General Public License 3). The same is true for grants to for-profit companies. The business receiving a grant agrees to bind itself to the open source license it owns as if it were a licensee. If we make a program-related investment, only the initial release must be open source, and future versions can be licensed in different ways. At the end of the funding period, the company can pay back the funds it received or Knight can take a stake in the company.

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.

Is there anything that the Emerging City Champions cannot fund?

Internal Revenue Service regulations on private foundations define some items Knight Foundation can and cannot fund. Knight is 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 are the criteria for a successful application?

Initial applications will be reviewed and evaluated on the strength of your 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.

How many Champions will be selected?

20 people will be selected to participate in the Emerging City Champions program. As a result, not all Knight communities will have a representative in the program.

How many different ideas can I submit?

You may submit as many ideas as you would like.


Email if you have other questions.

Get in touch

Have a question about the Emerging City Champions program and/or competition? Send us a message!

Emerging City Champions Application Form

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