The Knight Foundation wraps up a successful year

Guest post by Lynn Murphey of The Knight Foundation about their successful 2017.


It’s been a busy year for the Knight Foundation in Macon – including Anna Richards and me, Lynn Murphey, joining the Knight team! As 2017 wraps up, let’s look back at some highlights from Knight’s local investments for the year:

Bike Walk Macon in Macon Christmas Parade
Bike Walk Macon in Macon Christmas Parade. Photo courtesy The Knight Foundation.

In January 2017, projects from six local art organizations in Middle Georgia received a combined $85,000 in funding from our Arts program. These projects included the Field Note Stenographers, the Big House Foundation, the Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Tubman Museum, Macon Productions, and the Macon Arts Alliance.

In May, Historic Macon’s Neighborhood Incubator Leadership Institute began its first session with 20 local leaders representing 18 different Macon neighborhoods. The Museum of Arts and Sciences was awarded $100,000 to launch the FullDome Festival in partnership with the Macon Film Festival.

Two Maconites, Eric Mayle and Morgan Wright, were chosen as 2017 Emerging Cities Champions.

The Downtown Challenge named its third round of winners for Macon Action Plan projects in downtown Macon.

In June, $5,000,000 was awarded to Navicent Health to build the Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital. Two projects from Macon, Back Lot Drive-In at the Tubman and Pop-Up Garage Parklet, were chosen as 2017 Knight Cities Challenge Winners. Jennifer Lautzenheiser, executive director of the Middle Georgia Regional Library, attended the Next Library Conference in Aarhus, Denmark. Her attendance at the international program was sponsored by the Knight Foundation.

Beverly Knight Olson speaking at Childrens Hospital
Beverly Knight Olson speaking at Childrens Hospital. Photo courtesy the Knight Foundation.

In July, Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism received $2,000,000 to support expansion of local television news reporting, to fund enhancement of its innovative journalism education model and to provide capital for increased community engagement initiatives.

In August, thanks to a strong application by Alex Morrison, Macon was selected to be part of Smart Growth America’s The Amazing Place Ideas Forum. A cohort of local leaders and officials visited Denver, Colorado, to see how the city has used transit, strategic redevelopment and the arts to become a connected place that’s now a magnet for millennials.

Also in August, NewTown Macon received Center for Active Design’s Excellence Award for its Knight Cities Challenge winning project, Macon Connects.

In September, $50,000 was awarded to Mercer University to develop an interpretive plan for Mercer Music at Capricorn.

In October, Macon was chosen as one of the workshop locations for Sundance Labs Initiative 2.0, a Knight Arts-funded program. Also, 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year of representatives from Macon attending the 8 80 Cities Copenhagen study tour. This year’s local participants in the program were Gary Wheat of VisitMacon, Greg Brown of Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning and Nigel Floyd of Macon-Bibb County. Finally, Downtown Challenge was awarded NewTown Macon’s 360 Degree Partners In Progress Award.

November 2017 saw the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, Knight Foundation and Peyton Anderson Foundation collaborating to host a Foundation Meet Up at the Lofts at Capricorn where attendees discuss projects and initiatives that were successful in 2017 and began making plans for 2018.

Knight Foundation Meeeting
Photo courtesy The Knight Foundation.

Meanwhile, Representatives of Macon attended the NACTO Designing Cities Conference to learn how to advance the state of transportation in cities. NewTown Macon’s executive director, Josh Rogers, presented at the conference on Macon Connects.

During this busy month, local leadership from Macon attended Smart Growth America’s The Amazing Place Ideas Forum in Greenville, South Carolina, for an up-close look at how the city has created one of America’s most beautiful Main Streets and a vibrant downtown through historic preservation, brownfield redevelopment and riverfront investment. Mercer University received the “Highest Student Voter Participation” award for “SoCon Votes,” a Knight Foundation-funded program. Finally, community leaders graduated from the Fanning curriculum of Historic Macon’s Neighborhood Incubator Leadership Institute. As a continuation of the curriculum, a public meeting is being planned for January.

In December, the Knight Foundation contemplated the future of U.S. public media in the digital age? Adam Ragusea, Mercer University’s assistant professor and journalist-in-residence, included his thoughts in a Knight Foundation white paper series. Read “Topple the towers: Why public radio and television stations should radically reorient toward digital-first local news, and how they could do it.” One-South CDC was awarded a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant for its Gateway Heights/Georgia Agrihood Initiative. And rounding out a busy year, the fourth round of winners were selected for the Downtown Challenge, bringing the total funding for projects to $1.8 million since 2016.

Plans for 2018

Knight Foundation will continue to focus on implementation of the Macon Action Plan, specifically prioritizing initiatives which support the following areas:

Economic development: Creating employment opportunities by encouraging entrepreneurial and traditional business development.

Bringing city life downtown: Expanding and launching uniquely “Macon” assets which draw audiences.

Public spaces: Enhancing public space and parks and creating a bike-and-pedestrian-friendly downtown.

Be sure to stay connected to Knight Foundation and learn of upcoming opportunities to submit your ideas, find ways to collaborate and ignite positive change in Macon. Take a look at Knight’s strategic focus in Macon to learn more about our initiatives.

Follow @knightmacon on Twitter for regular news.

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