The Knight Emerging City Champions Program Is Back And Now Accepting Applications For 2024!

8 80 Cities announces relaunch of fellowship program to support young civic innovators with bold ideas to transform their communities

TORONTO April 10, 2024 

8 80 Cities is thrilled to announce the Knight Emerging City Champions fellowship and micro-grant program is relaunching after a 3-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Young civic innovators aged 18-35 with creative solutions to drive transformative change in their U.S. community are encouraged to apply and take part in this unique funding and leadership-building opportunity.   

The revived program – which seeks diverse and creative young leaders with bold ideas to support downtown and neighborhood revitalization, public spaces, and economic opportunity – is accepting applications for 20 new leaders for the 2024-2025 program.  

20 successful applicants will receive $5,000 in seed funding and a $500 tech grant to help implement their project idea, ongoing virtual training, support from 8 80 Cities, and access to a national network of creative urbanists. The program will run from August 2024 to August 2025. 

The KECC program, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, was created to elevate new, diverse, and underrepresented voices in city building and bring visibility to grassroots placemaking initiatives at the community level.  

This will be KECC’s seventh year. Since 2015, KECC has helped catalyze more than 100 public space and civic engagement projects in communities across the U.S. Projects range from beehives to jukeboxes, mentorship programs to art projects, block parties to shared meals.  

“We’re thrilled to bring Knight Emerging City Champions back with a refreshed program and new partnerships. This program has supported over 100 young civic innovators with bold ideas that have shaped their communities and shaped their leadership journeys. This new cohort will have the opportunity to be connected to a diverse network of past champions, as well as a network of placemakers, grassroots leaders, and civic tech experts that can help them with project implementation.” Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director of 8 80 Cities. 

KECC alumni are a young and racially diverse group. The program strongly encourages applications from voices currently underrepresented in the placemaking sector. The program is accepting applications from residents aged 18-35 from Knight Foundation’s eight resident communities: Akron, OH; Charlotte, NC; Detroit, MI; Macon, GA; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; San Jose, CA; and St. Paul, MN.  

The program will kick off in August 2024 with an in-person studio in Toronto—its first since 2019. The studio will include presentations, workshops, and city tours featuring inspiring grassroots community activists and city leaders.  

Knight Emerging City Champions is powered by 8 80 Cities, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of life for people in cities by bringing people together to enhance mobility and public space.  The program is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

To learn more about the impact of the KECC program over the years, click here. 

To apply to the Knight Emerging City Champions fellowship and microgrant program, applicants must submit their ideas at Emerging City Champions by May 27th, 2024, 11:59 pm EDT (8:59 pm PST).  

About 8 80 Cities  

8 80 Cities is a nonprofit organization based in Toronto, Canada. Our mission is to ignite action and challenge the status quo to create healthier, more equitable and sustainable cities for all people. We are dedicated to contributing to the transformation of cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places. Our approach is to engage people and communities across multiple sectors to inspire the creation of cities that are easily accessible, safe, and enjoyable for all. We achieve our mission through grant projects, research and advocacy, and our innovative services. Learn more here.

About Knight Foundation   

We are social investors who support a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers.   

Media Contact 

Shannon Lawrence, Director of Programs and Development, 8 80 Cities, 289-212-3530,  

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