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Knight Cities Challenge to fund ideas to improve cities

The Miami Science Barge was a Knight Cities Challenge winner last year. The concept for a floating, urban marine innovation lab and education center for science and sustainable living was proposed by CappSci, a science nonprofit; it won nearly $300,000 in Knight funding.
The Miami Science Barge was a Knight Cities Challenge winner last year. The concept for a floating, urban marine innovation lab and education center for science and sustainable living was proposed by CappSci, a science nonprofit; it won nearly $300,000 in Knight funding.

Have an innovative idea to improve Miami as a place to live and work? The Knight Cities Challenge opens Thursday.

Now in its second year, the national challenge is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to attract and fund ideas that will help Miami or one of the 25 other communities where Knight invests, including Palm Beach County. Ideas should focus on one or all of these three areas: attracting and keeping talent; expanding economic opportunity; and creating a culture of civic engagement. Winners will receive a share of $5 million to help build their concept; funding will be granted at all levels from small to large amounts. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 27 at knightcities.org.

Among last year’s winners was the Miami Science Barge. The concept for a floating, urban marine innovation lab and education center for science and sustainable living was proposed by CappSci, a science nonprofit; it won nearly $300,000 in Knight funding. Work on the barge, which will be powered by renewable energy, is moving full-steam ahead.

The team at CappSci closed on the purchase of the barge on Monday, moved it to the Miami River and began build-out Wednesday, said Nathalie Manzano-Smith, director of Innovation at CappSci, who proposed and is leading the project. The full-time barge staff, which also has been bolstered by help from students, businesses and community volunteers, received approval to locate the barge at Miami’s Museum Park and hopes to be launching it in early 2016, she said. One of the goals is to become a focal point for Miami’s climate issues.

“We have received tremendous community support and look forward to bringing sustainable programming to Miami’s burgeoning downtown core,” Manzano-Smith said.

For this year’s Knight Cities Challenge, Knight Foundation’s Miami Program Director Matt Haggman will host an information session Oct. 14 at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College, 315 NE Second Ave., Miami, Building 8, fifth floor.

Community members and entrepreneurs, as well as experts in urban planning, design, academia and government, will help Knight review entries. Knight will announce finalists and winners in early 2016. In March, Knight announced 32 winners of the first Knight Cities Challenge, including a pop-up pool project in Philadelphia.

“Through the challenge we want to find new voices and new ideas that capture the three key ingredients of city success — talent, opportunity and engagement. We see these as essential to the challenge and to building stronger futures for all of our cities,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives.

Nancy Dahlberg: 305-376-3595, @ndahlberg

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