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Emerging City Champions - 8 80 Cities

How Would You
Transform Your City?

Emerging City Champions is a fellowship and funding program for young civic innovators with bold ideas to enhance public space, mobility, and civic engagement. This program is powered by 8 80 Cities and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Here's How It Works

We're elevating new voices in city building and supporting bold projects that strengthen communities. We are looking for future city leaders with creative solutions that:

Activate public life in public spaces
Enhance mobility options
Build a culture of civic engagement

20 Champions


The fellowship is open to anyone with an innovative project idea and the drive to see it through in one of Knight Foundation's investment communities. Applicants may be activists, educators, tactical urbanists, designers, artists, entrepreneurs, and more. We want diverse voices with fresh perspectives, talent, and commitment to building vibrant neighborhoods and cities.

1 Year. $5,000.


Champions will receive $5,000 in seed funding to implement one community project in one year. We are looking for projects that respond to community needs, build on local assets, and are implemented through collaboration. Projects must address public space, mobility, and/or civic engagement challenges in the community, and must be based in one of the 26 cities where Knight Foundation invests.

A Four-Day


The first stop for program participants is the Emerging City Champions Studio in Toronto, Canada. The four-day Studio equips participants with leadership training and practical tools to implement their community project. Champions participate in site tours, workshops, networking events, and engaging presentations by city building experts. All travel expenses are covered by the program.



Champions join a supportive and inspiring network of their peers from across the country. Participants receive ongoing mentorship from experts in diverse fields such as planning, design, marketing, and more. 8 80 Cities and Knight Foundation will expose participants to opportunities for additional funding, professional growth, and support.

Are You Eligible?

Applicants must be 19-35 years old at the time they apply.
Applicants must be able to travel to Canada from July 26 to 31, 2019 (the ECC Studio takes place from July 27 to 30).
Applicants must implement their community project in one of the 26 communities where Knight Foundation invests.
Applications must include a multimedia submission that describes their project (blog post, video, slideshow, poster, etc.)
KF-Map2 2019

Inspiring Ideas

From past champions

Christine Edwards
Amplify is a toolkit and event series that makes it easier for people to interact with local government.
Charlotte, NC
See Project
Tonja Khabir
The Bobby Jones Project organizes community members to re-envision a cultural asset through collaborative planning.
Macon, GA
See Project
Kai Wick
Interactive Bus Stop creates opportunities for people to engage with their surroundings and each other while waiting for a ride.
Akron, OH
See Project
Timothy Jackson
Detroit Hives repurposes vacant lots into pollinator way-stations to promote urban sustainability and conservation awareness.
Detroit, MI
See Project