The city of Macon is challenged once again by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to come up with ideas for how to make the city a more vibrant place to live and work.
The second round of the Knight Cities Challenge starts Thursday.
The national initiative invites anyone anywhere to submit ideas for projects to receive a portion of $5 million that will pay for the projects’ completion. The projects must focus on helping Macon, or any of the other 25 Knight cities, “attract and keep talented people, spur civic involvement and expand economic prospects by breaking down divides and making new connections,” according to a news release. Macon, Columbus and Milledgeville are the Knight cities in Georgia.
“We’re looking for the people with those good ideas that we might not otherwise hear from,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “This gives everybody an equal shot at the same time to have their ideas evaluated.”
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Submissions may be made at knightcities.org and can come from anywhere as long as the applicant is willing to execute it and the project takes place in or benefits a Knight city. Applications may be submitted online at knightcities.org before the 12 p.m. Oct. 27 deadline.
A committee made up of community members as well as experts in urban planning, design, academia and government will help the Knight Foundation review entries, according to a news release.
Finalists will be selected in November and will have to submit a second application in January with more detail before winners are announced in March, Coletta said. Each project must be executed within 18 months from the grant.
The first round of the three-year initiative ended in March with 32 winners out of more than 7,000 submissions. Two winners in Macon received a total of $199,300 and have until October 2016 to execute their projects.
Geoffrey Boyd received $124,300 to create an umbrella organization “to bring together individual park volunteer groups to create a network of advocates interested in improving and maintaining local parks,” according to the Knight Foundation’s website.
College Hill Alliance was awarded $75,000 for “Operation Export Macon,” a project in which one person in a roaming trailer visits nearby cities to showcase Macon’s best food, goods and experiences, according to the website.
“We’re looking for ideas that accelerate talent, increase economic opportunity and foster engagement,” Coletta said. “One of the areas where we didn’t get a lot of ideas last year were ideas for (connecting) people across economic divides, so we want to call that out this year.”
Ideal applications include a clearly defined project with details about how it relates to the community, Coletta said.
“Get someone who doesn’t know your project to read your application. See if they can understand it and see if they get excited about it,” Coletta said. “Don’t just pick up an idea that every other community has done and say, ‘Oh, we want to do that here, too.’ Give it a local flavor. We’re really looking for that.”
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334 or follow her on Twitter @Lauraecor.