Knight Foundation Gives $9 Million to Support Civic Technology

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February 26, 2013; Source: The Next Web

The Knight Foundation has just handed out $9 million to three organizations to help expand their use of technology for civic engagement. One of the foundation’s grants will invest in a university-based learning network at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Another grant will help Code for America, which focuses on building “a network of civic leaders and organizations” that harnesses the power of the Internet, expand one of its programs to 13 cities.

A third grant will help launch a new effort to use technology to foster action based upon ideas discussed at TED conferences. Of the three, Code for America will receive the largest grant ($5 million) from the Knight Foundation, which was the first foundation to invest in Code for America. On the Knight Foundation blog, Knight National Program Director Damian Thorman writes:

“Our goal is to help those transformative benefits flow to places they won’t automatically go on their own, starting with physical communities. We’d like to see technology enable broad-based engagement, amplify what it means to be a citizen and ultimately revitalize democracy.”

This week, Thorman attended the annual TED conference, where the foundation is running a series of several “TED Challenges” in which “leading lights from the worlds of business, political technology and the social sector [shared] their expertise in online engagement to help us and TED advance the use of technology to turn ideas into action.”

That aim certainly falls under the rubric of the foundation’s Tech for Engagement initiative; the initiative’s goal is to promote the “potential of technology to engage communities, amplify citizenship, and ultimately revitalize democracy.” –Aine Creedon