Knight program to assist engagement technology

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The Technology for Engagement Initiative is the latest pubmedia project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation, with $2.23 million. It was announced Tuesday (Aug. 24). “Through Tweets, status updates and videos, so many people invest time and energy in making statements online about the issues that matter most to them,” said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives. “These projects aim to harness that energy and turn it into on-the-ground action for bettering communities.”

According to the announcement, the first projects are:

Craigslist Foundation ($750,000): to make it easy to find field-tested ways to build community, by creating an idea-sharing website. Institutions, community groups and individuals will tell their success stories on the site and connect with people of like minds.

Jumo ($750,000): to connect people – via a social network – with the issues and organizations that interest them. Started by Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, Jumo is building a network to foster relationships between people and organizations working for global change. The site matches users with relevant organizations, then engages them through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other applications to encourage contributions of time, skills or money.

Code For America ($250,000): to transform city governments across the country by enlisting the nation’s most promising developers to apply Web 2.0 principles to civic problems. Based on the Teach for America model, members will create web applications to help make city governments more transparent, participatory and efficient. Knight Foundation’s funding will ensure the participation of Philadelphia and Boulder, Colo., two Knight communities.

Community PlanIt by Engagement Game Lab, Emerson College ($250,000): to revitalize the community planning process by developing an interactive game platform that lets stakeholders work—and play—together to solve problems. The grant will fund game development, in collaboration with four Knight communities.

CEOS for Cities ($235,000): to test whether residents can help create solutions to local problems, filling a gap left by shrinking municipal budgets. This project will build a crowd-sourcing platform that invites residents to work with their city hall to identify problems and find answers. San Jose, Calif. and Grand Rapids, Mich. will test the idea.