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24 Projects Receive a Knight Prototype Fund Grant; Deadline for New Applicants is Jan. 31

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The Knight Foundation today announced 24 new projects as part of its Prototype Fund, through which innovators receive $35,000 each to explore new ideas.

Of the 24 projects, nine were discovered through the Foundation’s News Challenge: Health, and the group of winners also includes projects working on new tools for collecting and disseminating news and civic data.

What the winning projects have in common is the certainty that they will be faced with a testable moment. According to the Foundation:

“Sometimes this means that the project is at an early stage, but with any project there are critical assumptions that need to be tested in order to get over the next hurdle. When done with rigor and integrity, iterations of research, building and analysis can help a team gain confidence in an assumption that was accurate, make an important course correction or quickly pivot an idea based on new knowledge.”

In addition to the funding, the winners will take part in an intensive two-day workshop on design thinking, presented by LUMA Institute. The Foundation is already looking for the next round of Prototype Fund grant winners; applications are due by Jan. 31, so apply soon.

Meet the 24 winning projects:

Artefact: Advancing civic engagement by creating a Web-based deliberation tool that uses design strategies to promote problem solving and drive consensus among a group of diverse strangers.

Argos: Making news content easy to digest by building a design-driven news platform that aggregates and analyzes news stories and creates concise news backgrounders, including insights and connections regarding specific stories.

Bocoup: Conducting a survey and creating a guide identifying patterns and best practices for mobile data visualization.

Brown Bag Software: Revealing the challenges and constraints of building mass transit by creating a simulation app that allows the public to build model transit and land-use programs to better understand basic design and operational constraints.

CCTV Center for Media & Democracy: Using the Burlington, Vt., public gigabit network, in collaboration with the Code for BTV Code for America Brigade, to make cloud computing resources available for community-driven software applications that range from live interactive video of public meetings to civic apps that solve pressing community issues.

Civic Ninjas: Creating an application to help the public identify and visualize meaningful local health data through an accessible, fun interface inspired by Sunlight Foundation’s Sitegeist.

Data Driven Detroit: Informing the public and addressing important community issues by developing an interactive tool that helps Detroit residents discover and use relevant data about their city.

Farmers Market Coalition: Providing farmers markets with a Web application to easily and effectively collect, store and report data about the health impacts of their markets.

Fathom: Making complex zoning data accessible and actionable for the public by creating a website that will visualize details of Boston’s new rezoning ordinance for urban farming.

Forest Giant and Urban Design Studio: Creating LouLoops, a mobile app that maps bike routes and collects data so that local officials can officially plan infrastructure projects.

Global Sensor Web: Helping scientists and citizens collaborate and better monitor their environment through an online platform for aggregating geo-tagged data sets from public data sources and the onboard sensors of mobile phones.

HabitatMap: Empowering youth to help measure air quality and collect data by developing the next version of Kids Making Sense, a complete measurement sensing system and curriculum.

Keepr: Creating an open source data-mining tool for journalists to track breaking news stories, so they can easily find quality news sources.

Moneca Core: Making it easier to capture community-generated news by creating an open source code library to capture multimedia content by citizen journalists in mobile apps.

!nstant: Building a mobile app designed to verify and provide context to breaking news on social media so that the public is given a more accurate and clear picture of news stories.

One Degree: Helping people find community resources by developing a Web app that allows users to discover, track and share their experiences about social services.

Restatement: Making legal information more accessible by producing a design-driven system for the creation and parsing of machine-readable legal text.

Sexual Health Innovations: Providing up-to-date STD data by building an API to allow easy sharing of aggregate STD test data among clinics, health departments and the Centers for Disease Control to inform communities and help organizations mobilize resources to those in need.

Silent Spring Institute & MIT Media Lab: Making data easier to understand by creating multi-sensory, immersive and aesthetic experiences of environmental health indicators (example: sharing chemical exposure data with a community through a human-sized interactive bar chart).

Smart Chicago Collaborative: Using Twitter to identify potential cases of food poisoning in Chicago and encouraging individuals to report incidents of food poisoning.

The Center for Rural Strategies: Testing an approach to generate data-driven, localized news stories that media and other organizations in rural U.S. counties can use to produce local stories.

University of Missouri: Developing a system to collect and report noise data to better track problems of noise pollution in Columbia, Mo., that will be informed by community hacking events and prototype tests.

Vizzuality: Building an open source tool that allows journalists and other users to quickly turn data, maps and other content into interactive stories for online publication.

Zago: Seeking to make newsrooms more efficient by building a mobile app that will allow secure data sharing between reporters and their newsrooms.

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About the Author

Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup. She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, "Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership," which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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