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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

During the “submissions phase” you can click the  green “Add Your Idea” button anywhere on the site. Once you feel your idea is ready, please submit your ideas by clicking the blue “Publish” button. Your entry will not be considered if it is not published. Please note that you can edit your submission any time after you publish. 


Can I submit a private/closed application? 

We believe—and have found through several years of running the News Challenge—that posting your project publicly can help you find new ideas and potential partners. That's why we encourage you to use the open platform at newschallenge.org.

But we understand the need for privacy in some situations.

To apply privately, please answer all of the same questions on the platform (following the same guidelines and character limits) in a PDF document titled, "[Project Name], KNC: Libraries Closed Entry" and send before the submission deadline to newschallenge@knightfoundation.org.

You will receive a notification email that your submission has been received. If you do not receive this email in a timely manner, please follow-up. If you fail to comply with these instructions, your submission will not be placed under consideration.

Can I edit my published submission? 

Yes. You may edit your submission with new updates, changes based on feedback or basic corrections through the first review phase. However, once we begin reviewing the applications, we cannot guarantee that your changes will be seen by our review team. We recommend you make any changes as soon as possible. 

Can I apply from outside the United States?

No. The second Knight News Challenge on libraries will only accept applications from the United States. 


What questions are on the application?

We ask a few questions to get a sense of your project, how you're approaching it, and who you are. During the first stage, you do not need to provide a budget or complete a request for a specific amount of funding. We'll ask budget questions in the next stage for those entries selected as semifinalists.


Have any tips for good applications?

Be brief and be visual. Ask people who don’t know your project to review your application. Make sure it fits the theme. Make sure that a stranger with no knowledge of your field could read the first few sentences of your application and then describe your idea concisely to someone else. The simpler the better. 

If selected as a semifinalist, what additional information will be requested? 

As a semifinalist, you will be notified and asked a few additional questions regarding your budget, program activities and progress to date.

I have an early stage idea. Can I still apply? 

Yes. Based on our review, a small selection of applicants will be placed under consideration for the Knight Prototype Fund, which provides seed funding for early stage ideas to test their assumptions and iterate based on human-centered design. 


Who decides who wins?

Our trustees make the final call, with staff recommendations. During both review phases, we read applications with the help of a group of outside advisors and field experts. 

Do “applause” and comments on my entry affect my chances?

No. The only thing we evaluate in reviewing projects is what you tell us in your submission. The amount of “applause” you receive will not affect your chances. However, we encourage you to use any feedback received to refine and clarify your submission.

*For anyone looking to comment/applaud your entry they will need to create an account on the site: 

How much money is available?

The typical award amount for the Knight News Challenge ranges between $200,000 and $500,000, but it varies with each project and contest. At this first stage of the contest, we're not asking for a budget request—we'll do that during the second review phase with selected semifinalists.


What parts of my budget will you fund?

We’ll pay for what it takes to design, develop and implement the project, as well as marketing and travel. We don’t fund universities’ overhead costs or administrative fees.


Why should I apply to the News Challenge?

Winning the News Challenge makes you part of an international network of entrepreneurs and experts unlike any other. Knight Foundation helps our partners develop their organizations, recruit collaborators, manage projects and grow their networks.


What does Knight Foundation do?

We support transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. Read more about us at www.knightfoundation.org.


Who can enter the News Challenge?

Anyone, anywhere, of any age. This competition is open to nonprofits, for-profits or individuals anywhere in the world. Awards to minors will be made to an intermediary designated by Knight Foundation. The only exception is that each idea must be based in the U.S. 

What kind of projects are ineligible for funding?

As required by IRS rules, Knight Foundation funds can't be used to: 

  • Engage in direct lobbying activities (i.e., contacting legislators regarding specific legislation).
  • Engage in grassroots lobbying activities (i.e., encouraging the public to contact legislators regarding specific legislation). 
  • Participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective public office.
  • Support a voter registration drive (unless the grantee is a Section 4945(f) organization).
  • Benefit a private party (other than through providing grant funds to conduct activities in furtherance of charitable and educational purposes).

What are the funding options for a non-profit organization?

We offer charitable grants to registered US nonprofit organizations with 501(c)3 status.


I’m a for-profit company. Can I enter?

Yes. There are several funding options. Don’t worry too much about those specifics before applying. If you’re selected to move forward as a semifinalist, we’ll communicate with you about the details.


Can I apply with a project that’s already been started?

Yes, if you’re proposing to do new, innovative things within the existing project.


Can two organizations/people submit a collaborative project?

Yes. We have funding mechanisms to make partnership projects possible.


If I applied previously and did not win, can I apply again?

Absolutely, and you should, if you have an idea that fits the theme.


How many different projects can I submit to News Challenge?

As many as you like.


I’m not a software developer or designer, but I have a good idea that requires technology. Can I apply?

Yes, absolutely. But you should keep in mind that we’ve found that the most successful technology projects are those with technology expertise on the team from the early stages.


What are the the IP terms of the News Challenge?

If you win, you’ll own your intellectual property. But under most funding mechanisms, you’ll be required to release what you make as open source (for software) or Creative Commons (for content and documentation). The only exception is companies in which we make an enterprise investment.

Legalese detail: Grants to nonprofits have a strict requirement: any software developed with grant money must be released as open source (typically under GNU General Public License 3). The same is true for grants to for-profit companies. The business receiving a grant agrees to bind itself to the open source license it owns as if it were a licensee. If a Program Related Investment is made, only the initial release must be open source, and future versions can be licensed in different ways. At the end of the funding period, the company can pay back the funds it received or Knight can take a stake in the company. An Enterprise Fund equity investment has no open-source requirements.


What is your definition of releasing as “open source”?

Software that is available for anyone to use or build upon at the conclusion of the grant period. You will own your platform, but you will have to share the software you develop under a GNU General Public License(GPL) (or other open source license, by agreement with us) and any content, documents, manuals or instructions under Creative Commons licensing. We consider exceptions to these requirements on a case-by-case basis.


What is Knight Foundation’s IP licensing policy?

Knight Foundation’s intellectual property (IP) licensing policy seeks to use IP terms and conditions in its agreements that allow projects to achieve their highest possible impact and Knight’s highest social return on investment. This licensing policy also aims to increase the transparency of grant outcomes by allowing for greater sharing of knowledge and adoption among user communities. The specific type of license required by Knight Foundation depends on the type of IP being created, the type of organization receiving the support and the specific objectives of the project.

In general, non-charitable organizations (for-profits or individuals) receiving a grant must use the most permissible IP licenses. In addition to licensing the IP, non-charitable organizations will also be licensees themselves and so subject to the terms of the license for any future versions of the IP. If non-charitable organizations receive a Program Related Investment (PRI) they are not required to be licensees.


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I want to suggest a new feature or tell you about something that’s broken.

Thank you! Please email us.

How can I report abuse?

You may flag any content that you feel is abusive.


How do I deactivate my account?

We hope that you enjoyed being part of the community while you were here. Please contact us and we’ll pull the plug.


My question is not listed above.

Please submit questions (with answers, if you'd like) to newschallenge[at]knightfoundation.org