BRADENTON -- The Knight Foundation is beginning a Knight Cities Challenge, inviting ideas on how to make member cities such as Bradenton more economically successful. The winning ideas will share a $5 million award.
The Knight Foundation will begin accepting submissions in October with two basic guideline questions:
What is the idea?
What will each city learn from the work?
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In a unique twist, the Knight Foundation is opening the submission process internationally, meaning anyone can submit a proposal, and finalists outside Knight communities will be paired with one of 26
foundation member communities.
Carol Coletta, vice president of community and national incentives for the Knight Foundation, said in a recent blog posting the importance of talent, opportunity and engagement is clear.
"Opportunity is critical because it is fundamental to getting more people on the ladder of economic success," she said. "Cities that break down economic divides and provide opportunity to people from different backgrounds stimulate ideas and connections that enable their communities to thrive."
She said engagement is critical because the future is being shaped daily by hundreds of small decisions made by people who will have an impact on a city's future. Coletta emphasizes the need to draw young talent into the city because millennials are "talented people who are among the most mobile groups in society and want to live in vibrant, diverse communities."
If that sounds familiar, chances are you've been paying attention to the goals of Realize Bradenton, which has made those things a priority. Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton, said there is a reason her organization and the Knight Foundation are on the same page.
"The startup of Realize Bradenton was supported by the Knight Foundation," said Isham. "We got $250,000 in 2008 to do a yearlong planning process that was called Realize Bradenton."
The six-year history of working with the Knight Foundation, as well as establishing core values and goals, puts Realize Bradenton in a good position to compete in the Knights Cities Challenge, Isham said.
"We are very well-positioned to submit a very strong Knight Cities Challenge proposal," said Isham. "We've been working for the last four years on long-term solutions to increase engagement of residents and create new opportunities using our culture and heritage."
Realize Bradenton is working with the Harwood Foundation to develop strategies to attract and retain millennials.
"We are already committed through our events and through our strategic promotions to connect and engage young people because they are our future leaders," she said.
Isham said Realize Bradenton's attractive four-year track record of success uses the kind of ideas the Knight Foundation wants to fund.
In October, Knight Foundation members and city and community leaders from Macon, Ga., will visit Bradenton because "Macon and the Knight Foundation already see us as a national leader," said Isham. "Bradenton can take pride in that and we can barely contain our joy knowing the Knight Foundation is going to the next level for the communities."
Isham would not comment on the details of Realize Bradenton's Knight Cities Challenge submission but said if any funding is awarded, it will be put back into Realize Bradenton's ongoing goals to build sustainable economic success for the city.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.