Knight Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education


OVERVIEW: Arts grants from the Knight Foundation go to innovative projects that support reaching, engaging and increasing arts audiences. Grants have supported a variety of organizations, from large arts institutions to individual artists. K-12 nonprofits serving Philadelphia, Detroit, Akron, Charlotte, Macon (Georgia), Miami, San Jose, the Silicon Valley and St. Paul are eligible for funding through the Knight Arts Challenge, a sub-program of the Arts program.

IP TAKE: If you're passionate about bringing the arts into the 21st century through unique uses of technology, community engagement, and diversity outreach, Knight could be just the funder for you. 

PROFILE: The Knight Foundation’s giving is based in a strong faith in the importance of “informed and engaged” people and communities. To that end, the foundation “supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts.” For K-12 grantseekers, it's this last program area that should draw your attention, keeping in mind that the Knight Foundation does not have a specific primary or secondary education program.

Recently, the Knight Arts Challenge has taken center stage in the foundation's approach, and K-12 arts education nonprofits have played a part in this program. The Arts Challenge is open in eight resident communities throughout the United States: Philadelphia, Detroit, Akron, Charlotte, Macon (Georgia), Miami, San Jose, the Silicon Valley, and St. Paul.

Under Knight’s Fostering the Arts program, grants are available through four initiatives: creative place-making, making art general, institutional reform, and spurring innovation. Small general support grants are available through the program to engage citizens of these resident communities in the arts.

This approach casts a fairly wide net. For instance, an education group could seek funding for a small arts project, but so could the local performing arts center. Grants from both the Knight Arts Challenge and the Arts program in general have funded initiatives such as the use of new media, film, public performances, and afterschool programs to bring university artists together with primary and secondary students. Other grant projects include work such diverse areas as distance learning in the arts, performance art workshops, musical “boot camps” and instrument making.

Once Knight Arts Challenge grants have been awarded in the target cities, it's not exactly clear how the foundation will pivot, so keep a close eye on Knight's arts strategy, which you can do by signing up for its weekly newsletter.

One important way to get a clearer sense of what Knight likes to fund is by reviewing the Featured Projects section of its Arts program. More broadly, this same database can be searched by year, program area, keyword, and other criteria, and there is also a page to view previous Knight Arts Challenge winners. If the strategy and goals of your project fit Knight’s bill, you can start the application process by submitting a letter of inquiry through the foundation’s Apply for Funding page (application to the Knight Arts Challenge is a separate process).


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)