On July 22 at the University of Texas in Austin, the Knight Foundation, in partnership with the Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Rita Allen Foundation, announced 22 winners (out of more than 1,000 submissions) of the Knight News Challenge on elections. The competitive awards sought projects from entrepreneurs, nonprofits, news organizations, and others that showcased innovative ways to inform voters and increase civic participation before, during, and after elections.
The winners will share $3.2 million in grants: Ten will receive between $200,000 and $525,000 each, and 12 will get $35,000 apiece through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps support the exploration of early-stage ideas over a six-month period. Among the winning projects are:
- Civic Engagement Toolkit for Local Election Officials by the Center for Technology and Civic Life (Chicago)—$400,000. This project is developing a set of resources for election offices, including website templates, illustrated guides for information seekers, and wait-time calculators, to help local governments more easily reach communities.
- Erase the Line by the D.C. Board of Elections—$35,000. This effort to improve the efficiency of the voting process will involve the creation of a digital platform to document and visualize wait-time data at polling places nationwide.
- Revive My Vote by the Marshall-Wythe School of Law Foundation (Richmond, Virginia)—$230,000. This project is organizing local law students to help quickly and remotely process applications to restore the voting rights of Virginians with prior felony convictions.
- Rhode Island Civic Fellowship by the Rhode Island Department of State—$35,000. This state-sponsored effort seeks to encourage more millennials to vote through a civic fellowship program designed to inspire and train them to get involved in shaping voting and elections in their communities.
- Voter’s Edge by MapLight (Berkeley, California)—$35,000. This project will provide an in-depth and mobile-optimized voter information guide that is easily accessible, neutral, and factual, and includes lists of endorsements, candidate biographies, ballot measure summaries, funder lists, videos, and news for federal, state, and local elections.