Skip to content

Knight News Challenge awards $3.2 million for 17 ideas that make data work for communities

MFG Archive

This week we look at five of the 17 winners of the Knight News Challenge, which recently awarded $3.2 million for projects that “make data work for communities.”


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the 17 winners of the Knight News Challenge on Data on January 16, 2016. The challenge invited applicants to present ideas that use data to address and improve community challenges, while encouraging development in innovation and learning. Similarly to Markets For Good (MFG), the Knight Foundation recognizes “the power of data as an essential resource for news, knowledge, creativity, community development and building stronger democracies.”


The challenge was launched in September 2015 as a collaboration between the Knight Foundation, Data & Society Research Institute, and Open Society Foundations. Each winner will receive a portion of the total $3.2 million prize money. For eight winners, the prize money will serve as an investment, with the other nine winners receiving prize money to develop demos of their projects.


Several of the winning projects deal with data privacy and individual data literacy – two issues addressed by MFG’s digitalIMPACT project. Take a look at five of the winners who are leading innovation and increasing the power and use of data.


  1. PublicBits: Breaking Down Open Data Silos by U.S. Open Data ($420,000 | Project lead: Karissa McKelvey | Oakland, California): Developing a search engine that makes it easier for users to find and collect data from multiple sources and receive notifications when the data is out of date. Learn more here:


  1. Weighing the Wisdom of the Crowd by Orb Media ($450,000 | Project leads: Heather Krause and Neal Rothleder | Washington, D.C.): Enabling anyone to survey the crowd and share reliable, credible results through the use of easy-to-use online tools that allow users to create more scientifically sound surveys. Learn more here:


  1. Documents Empowerment Project by mRelief ($250,000 | Project lead: Rose Afriyie and Genevieve Nielsen | Chicago, Illinois): Helping low-income Americans prove their eligibility for public benefit programs by scaling a benefit program document database and discovery platform. Learn more here:


  1. Could Your Data Discriminate? by Data & Society Research Institute (Project leads: Sorelle Friedler; Wilneida Negron; @kdphd, @WilneidaNegron | New York): Helping people identify and fix hidden biases in their data and learn about data discrimination through a website that will allow people to test data for bias and experiment with public data to determine what may result in such bias. Learn more here:


  1. Democratizing Data through Visual Search Results by city of Raleigh (Project lead: Adam Martin; @RaleighGov | Raleigh, N.C.): Making it easier to access and use public data through an open source project that will present data in a more visual and relevant manner through search results. For example, a search for “budget” on would yield intuitive, attractive graphs and charts. Learn more here:


We wish the best of luck to all 17 winning projects and are excited to see how they change the world of open data in communities around the world. The Knight Foundation will be sharing progress and stories from the projects on the Knight Blog. You can also follow and join the conversation on Twitter via @knightfdn and #newschallenge.



Read The Knight Foundation’s original press release here.  


To stay up to date with the latest Markets For Good articles and news, sign up to our newsletter here. Make sure that you are also following us on Twitter.