Knight Cities Challenge Offers $5 Million to Make Your City a Better Place

The Knight Cities Challenge has a simple question for you: What’s your best idea to make cities succeed? If you think you have a solid idea, now is your chance to get it out there. Earlier this year, an entry submitted by Nathalie Manzano-Smith with the science nonprofit CappSci pitched a Miami-based floating science barge. The flat-bottomed boat was among the winners of the $5 million Knight Cities Challenge, and now, the challenge is back on to find the next bright idea.

Starting today, applicants in Miami can start presenting their ideas for a chance to win a portion of the million-dollar prize. The most innovative ideas on how to make cities more vibrant places to work and live could win a grant similar to the nearly $300,000 awarded to the Miami Science Barge group.

The Science Barge was the only Miami winner among the 32 projects awarded funding, and this year, the Knight Foundation is hoping more Miami initiatives will be a part of the national winners.

“It shows you once again don’t ever get the notion that you know all the people with the good ideas or that you have all the good ideas, because people will prove you wrong. Challenges work so well to source ideas and new people, people who may never approach us for a grant,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “We had a lot of good ideas around bringing public life back to vacant spaces, and that was a dominant theme around the country, but I didn’t expect so many ideas on building the narrative or changing the story of a city.”

The Miami Science Barge will be located in the Museum Park, where the 120-foot by 30-foot structure will be on display in hopes of teaching children and adults more about marine life and how they can make our world more sustainable. 

“We envision the science barge to be a symbol of building a sustainable Miami,” Manzano-Smith told the Miami Herald recently. "It will be solar powered and harvest all its water from the rain and sea. Our goal is to provide a unique experience and let people access the bay that normally can’t.”

The guidelines to submit are simple: firstly, participants can submit an initiative for any city, so long as it benefits one of the 26 Knight communities. And it's encouraged that the ideas are focused around one or more of the "key drivers of city success": talent, opportunity, and engagement.

For more information about how you can join Knights Cities Challenge in making Miami a better place, visit Applications will be accepted now through October 27.