The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas.
Throughout 2012, innovators from all industries and countries are invited to participate in three challenge rounds, each with focused topics on emerging trends.
Round 1 - on networks - is closed, and the winners will be announced June 18.
Round 2 - on data - will be open May 31 - June 21. We’re looking for new ways of collecting, understanding, visualizing and helping the public use the large amounts of information generated each day. Winners will be announced in late September.
Details on Round 3 will available later this year.
Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.
Recovers.org links local disaster recovery efforts to the national network of aid organizations and public support.
We became aware of the current gaps in disaster support the hard way – by trying to fill them. Groups like the Red Cross and United Way are very good at bringing resources into the town, but they don’t collect donations, they don’t organize spontaneous volunteers, and they don’t stay. Untrained community members are tasked with all of the long-term organizing and given none of the tools.
Churches and community organizations become de facto aid distribution centers post-disaster. They deploy volunteers, canvas needs, manage donations and interface between the resources coming in and those in need. By providing easy-to-use tools to support community organizers, we can reduce inefficiency, speed aid, and make the massive amounts of data collected at the grassroots level available to the national network of support.
Currently, every community is forced to build their own organizing tools. This is the first attempt to take a system, improve upon it, and export it to other recovering communities. TownName.Recovers.org can be up in 2 hours or less, collecting resources for local response.
This has worked before - we built this in the wake of an EF3 tornado in our hometown, Monson, MA, and have since deployed a beta version in Clay, AL. Using our system, our town Monson has logged 100x more volunteer hours than its neighbors, and its fundraising is pushing $1million. In Clay, distribution centers used our system to flag cases of fraud, publish community updates, and their donation item database is filling with valuable resources.
Our core team consists of two current MIT graduate students, one MIT alumnus, and one Harvard alumnus. Our team includes experts in startups, web and mobile applications; campaign organizing experience, and emergency response. One of our team members, Alvin, is a professional programmer, and is developing the bulk of the software necessary to implement our ideas.
Our advisors include a co-chair of the Harvard Kennedy School Program on Crisis Leadership, a former Director of Homeland Security for New England, an Harvard Business entrepreneurship professor, the Founder and CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center and a top technology law partner at Goodwin Procter.
We have finished our minimum viable product and are currently testing the Disaster Dashboard for deployment. Most of the data we collect and resulting modifications comes through work in real disaster zones. We have also created advance partnerships with the network of existing aid organizations to facilitate training and use on the ground.
Our next steps include building out our “Disaster Dashboard” and completing canvassing and volunteer management mobile applications. This needs to exist, and with the Knight Foundation’s support we can scale nationally for hurricane season.
We will license our software on a subscription basis to towns seeking to prepare for disasters. Our system of communication in Monson was profiled by the Department of Homeland Security, and towns are actively seeking these solutions. We are in talks with our first 5 potential client towns and will sell at county/state level as we scale. 10 other communities in two states have expressed interest in adopting the platform in advance of a disaster.
We are requesting $200,000 in seed funding to help us bridge the gap between bootstrap and sustainability responsibly. If we sell to a town, we need to be able to support them.