Knight Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Knight Foundation supports both large arts institutions and individual artists. Colleges and universities receive awards for diverse initiatives through Knight's journalism, media, community and arts programs. It is worth noting, however, that some programs and initiatives are targeted exclusively at communities in specific cities.

IP TAKE: Across the board at Knight, innovation—interpreted very broadly—is the key. Fundraisers at colleges and universities should not be afraid to submit a short letter of inquiry for a project that pushes the boundaries of traditional funding. It is worth noting, however, that some programs and initiatives are targeted exclusively at communities in specific cities.

PROFILE: The Knight Foundation was founded in 1950 by newspaper magnates John S. Knight James L. Knight. Its giving is based on a strong faith in the importance of “informed and engaged” people and communities. Knight only operates in the 26 communities where the Knight brothers once operate newspapers. The foundation “supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts.” Its three main funding areas are Journalism, Communities, and Arts.

The Knight Foundation conducts higher education grantmaking through all of its programs. In particular, the Art programs seeks to “work with partners who create or present art that connects, engages and delights residents in ways that reflect the rich diversity and identity of each Knight city” as well as “make art accessible by funding anchor institutions and by supporting grassroots initiatives of individual artists and organizations.” Past arts higher education grantees include the Teatro Prometeo at Miami Dade College, the University of Florida School of Music, and the McNally Smith College of Music Foundation.

Knight also funds higher education institutions through its Communities program, which supports "civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement." Past grants include the creation of outdoor art spaces, civic education projects, a film festival, and an initiative to strengthen the pipeline between university STEM students and their post-secondary career opportunities.

Lastly, its Journalism program works to bolster "people and organizations committed to advancing excellence in journalism and informing people in communities of all sizes through experimentation, innovation and leadership." Universities and colleges have received support for research projects and centers, collaboration with public broadcasting stations, funding for leadership and fellowship programs, and diversity initiatives, among others.

Grants range from $10,000 to $500,000. To get a clearer sense of Knight's funding tendencies, review the foundation's searchable database. The foundation has offices in Akron, OH, Charlotte, NC, Detroit, MI, Macon, GA, Miami, FL, Philadelphia, PA, San Jose, CA, and St. Paul, MN, while they also work with partner organizations in 18 other small towns.

Grantseekers may start the Application Process with a letter of inquiry, or check for any open challenges.

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