Attention Myrtle Beach innovators: A foundation wants your best ideas and may pony up the money to bring them to fruition.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently kicked off the Knight Cities Challenge, which seeks to fund projects that will improve 26 U.S. communities, including Myrtle Beach. Deadline for entries is Nov. 14.
The cities are in markets where the Knight newspaper group once published papers. The McClatchy Company, which owns The Sun News, purchased the Knight Ridder chain in 2006.
“We care about the success of the Knight Foundation cities,” said foundation spokesman George Abbott. “The money for the whole foundation was endowed to us by the Knight brothers because they cared about those cities. Now that the newspapers are gone, the foundation is the way that they chose to have their legacy working for the success of the cities.”
Grants will be awarded from a $5 million pool and the primary requirements are that the projects focus on at least one of three drivers of city success: finding and keeping talent, fostering civic engagement and expanding economic opportunity.
“We don’t have whole a lot of information on how you actually do those things,” Abbott said. “We’re running the challenge to try and find new ideas within our cities.”
Although Knight Cities is a new initiative, the foundation has held other innovation-generating challenges for years, including the Knight News Challenge and the Knight Arts Challenge.
The latest program doesn’t require the assistance of a professional grant writer. Applications don’t have to include detailed budgets, just unique concepts. Artists, architects, students, entrepreneurs, businessmen, government officials and organizations of all types are encouraged to submit proposals.
“We’ve seen the success of the news challenge and the arts challenge in uncovering new people and new ideas,” Abbott said. “We thought it was a really great model to follow.”
So far, the Knight Foundation has received entries from all 26 markets, including Myrtle Beach. Abbott said the number of grants awarded will depend on the quality and amount of applications received.
“We haven’t made any kind of delineations on how many we’ll fund or even how they’ll be kind of split up between the different communities,” Abbott said. “It’s really about the strength of the ideas.”
For more information about the program, including how to enter, visit knightcities.org. Finalists will be announced in early January.