Knight Foundation

Using collaborative innovation to improve citizen engagement with government

The Knight Foundation supports innovation in journalism, the arts and media. They had a hunch that grant making needed a shake up and a desire to attract talented designers and developers to the mix. They use their platform to accelerate media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Unlike the static, closed model of traditional grant-funding, the Knight News Challenge provides avenues for applicants to collaborate, iterate and gain feedback before grants are awarded.


Knight Foundation’s first challenge using OI Engine was focused on improving citizen engagement with government. Over 900 entries were submitted and 8 projects were awarded more than $3.2 million to help develop their ideas. The projects proposed new tools and approaches to improve the way people and governments interact. They tackle a range of issues from making it easier to open a local business to helping citizens visualise the impact of public policies on communities.


Using a structured, human-centred process has helped Knight Foundation manage a high volume of grant applications and enabled a broad community to offer feedback on each. Projects grew stronger through the platform as well, with winning projects having iterated their ideas before being selected for funding and most adding new team members who they met through participating. Knight Foundation also shared valuable lessons on Fast Company which point to future directions for grant making.

What's next?

Knight News has gone on to run grant making challenges, powered by OI Engine, to support media innovation in improving citizen engagement with libraries and elections.

3 years +

Visit site

Umpqua Bank
Multi-media Telco

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form :( 
Please try again or get in contact at