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Got a Wild, Crazy, and Unrealistic Idea? Our K880 Champs Have your Back

Who do you turn to when starting a project some think is “crazy,” “wild,” or “unrealistic”? For the 25 young people who participated in our K880 Emerging City Champions Studio in Toronto in June, they now have each other − a support network of likeminded young people that will have each other’s backs as they pursue projects to improve their cities.

“Most inspirational people I’ve ever known” – Johnny Wakefield, Emerging City Champion from Charlotte NC

“This week 880 Cities nourished a national network of leaders and new homies.” – Erin Salazar of The Exhibition District and Emerging City Champion from San Jose CA.

The K880 Emerging City Champions were chosen from over 150 applicants between the ages of 19 and 35 with unique project ideas to make their (Knight) cities better places to live, work, and play. As K880 Champs, they were given a trip to Toronto; $5000 to get their project off the ground; and, most importantly, the space to learn, grow, and understand the power that each of them possess as young people in the world today.

This wasn’t a group of urban planners, public administration professionals, or engineers. This group was a diverse mix of artists, community organizers, business people, and tradespeople. Many will be pursuing their projects as extracurricular activities. (Will the next Jane Jacobs please stand up?!)

By kicking off the experience with a four-day program in Toronto, we hoped to inspire and give them tools to support the implementation of their individual projects. Over the next year they will be pursuing projects from creating public art to writing love letters to a city, from activating vacant land to starting a bicycle coalition, and we could go on! We connected each with a mentor to help them along the way.

What we did not anticipate were the friendships and bonds that formed amongst the group in such a short time. 25 individuals arrived in Toronto on June 12th and left four days later as a national support network of engaged young people ready to do good things for their communities.



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