Knight Foundation Awards Over $3.2 Million to Startups

Today, the Knight Foundation announced over $3.2 million in funding for eight startups helping citizens interact better with the government.

The funding is part of the Knight News Challenge on Open Gov, which launched in February. The goal is to improve public and journalist access to information, and help citizens strengthen their communities.

Another Knight News Challenge will be coming up later this year, to help the organization further its support of quality and innovative journalism, strong communities, and the arts.

Here are the winners:

  • Civic Insight ($220,000): Software that plugs into government databases and provides information about vacant properties so the public can put them to better use. The team, including Alex Pandel, Eddie Tejeda, and Amir Reavis-Bey, developed the technology during their Code for America fellowship.
  • GitMachines ($500,000): Provides security-compliant servers to developers who are working for the government, so the government will adopt new software more quickly. The team has worked with government as data officers, consultants, and contractors.
  • Open Gov for the Rest of Us ($350,000): A program in Chicago’s low-income South Side neighborhoods to connect more people to the Internet and help them use open government tools. The team comes from LISC Chicago’s Smart Communities program, a 10-year project to help develop 16 Chicago communities.
  • OpenCounter ($450,000): A tool for entrepreneurs looking to open up a startup or brick-and-mortar business. OpenCounter provides information on the costs and time involved in acquiring government permits. The team, led by Peter Koht and Joel Mahoney, developed it during their Code for America fellowship.
  • An online simulator for citizens to visualize how public policies with affect their communities. It’s based on the team’s app Politify, which did the same for the proposed policies of Romney and Obama. A TechStars Boston accelerator company.
  • Oyez Project ($600,000): An online resource for court case information, including summaries, opinions, audio recordings, and transcripts. Now 20 years old, the project will use the funding to expand from Supreme Court cases to state supreme and federal appellate courts.
  • Plan in a Box ($620,000): An open source tool that lets city planners create websites about their upcoming plans so the public can be informed and provide input. The team’s experience includes time at Code for America and Planning Corps.
  • ($460,000): A tool for cities and states to post requests for proposals (RFPs) so small business can more easily find and bid on contracts. It’s based on the work of Clay Johnson and Adam Becker as Presidential Innovation Fellows, where they built an RFP tool for the federal government.
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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact
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