Knight Prototype Fund invests in 11 new projects that unlock the power of data


MIAMI – March 1, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced funding for 11 new projects through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps people explore early-stage media and information ideas with $35,000 in funding. The awards total $385,000.

Many of the projects focus on unlocking the power of data and making content – from podcasts to legislation – easier to discover, explore and visualize. Some focus on data privacy, helping people protect their personal data and encouraging the organizations that collect it to better inform their audiences. One offers a virtual research assistant for writers and journalists, allowing them to mine stories from large amounts of data; another lets anyone convert data into animated videos.

Teams will build on these ideas over the next six months, kicking off their Prototype Fund journey with human-centered design training. At the end of the six months, they will gather for a demo day to share their discoveries and prototypes.

Knight launched the Prototype Fund in June 2012 to invite people to experiment, learn and iterate before moving on to the more costly stage of building out a project. To date, Knight has invested $9 million in the Prototype Fund, with several of the projects – including HeartmobStoryCorpsmRelief and GovLoop – receiving additional funding to further develop their projects.

“The Prototype Fund is about testing ideas that may fail, change or succeed; it gives teams perspective on developing the best versions of their project, or in some cases rethinking their ideas,” said Chris Barr, Knight Foundation director for media innovation who leads the Prototype Fund. “We have seen several great projects get their start through the process and go on to increase their impact through the lessons they’ve learnt.”

Knight recently announced funding for nine Prototype Fund projects as part of the 17 winners of the Knight News Challenge on Data.

The following 11 projects will join those winners in this Prototype Fund round:

Access Missouri by University of Missouri School of Journalism (Project lead: Nathan Lawrence | Columbia, Mo.): Making it easier for journalists and others to access and find accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date information about Missouri legislation, lawmakers and their influencers.

Authenticon by Benetech (Project lead: Collin Sullivan | Palo Alto, Calif.): Supporting digital privacy through a free, open source tool that makes it easier to verify a person’s cryptographic or secure online identity.

Chitram (Project lead: Kavya Sukumar | Washington, D.C.): Making it easier for anyone to create data visualizations through an open source tool that creates animated video snippets of graphs and charts from datasets.

This American Life’s Audioshare Tool by This American Life (Project lead: Stephanie Foo | New York): Helping people share and discover audio stories more easily with a tool that will allow users to easily capture a short selection of a podcast or other audio, convert it into a video with word-for-word transcription, and share it to social media.

One-liner by Institute for Nonprofit News (Project lead: Ryan Nagle | Chicago): Helping newsrooms improve website performance and better understand the privacy implications of third-party services (analytics tools, advertising networks, social gadgets, etc.) through a dashboard that allows them to manage and evaluate these tools.

Open Privacy Project by University of Miami (Project lead: Kim Grinfeder | Miami): Encouraging more transparency around the use of personal data with free tools that provide simple, standardized ways to to simplify and visually describe privacy policies thereby informing users how their data is collected, used and protected.

RevEx: A Data Visualization Tool To Find Stories in Millions of Internet Reviews by New York University (Project lead: Enrico Bertini | New York): Helping journalists explore millions of online reviews to create stories about how people interact with professionals, institutions and businesses.

Satchel (Project lead: Beau York | Jackson, Miss.): Making podcasts easier to find through a platform that will allow location-based searches and allow people to share content through an embedded player on social media.

Singularity HUB’s Open Source Virtual Research Assistant for Writers and Journalists by Singularity University (Project lead: David Hill | Moffett Field, Calif.): Helping content creators discover relevant information faster and more efficiently through a tool that will filter data from news feeds, extract information from metadata and keyword use, and condense it into article summaries.

Spectrogram Tool for Public Input (Project lead: Catherine Bracy | Oakland, Calif.): Promoting more representative public decision-making processes through a digital platform that government officials can use as a tool to turn citizen opinion into actionable and more transparent data.

Visible Contracts by ThirdSpace (Project lead: Amanda Levinson | Philadelphia):Making Philadelphia’s procurement data more transparent and easy to understand by using the city’s open data to build online interactive visualizations.

About the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

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