Now in its third year, the Knight Cities Challenge awards $5 million to help bring ideas for parks, open gov, urban investment and more to fruition. Projects come from individuals, universities, governments and nonprofit groups in any of the 26 target communities where the Knight family has run newspapers.

Like previous years, the winners — selected from 144 finalists — include both significant undertakings, such as a plan to activate 12 empty storefront spaces in Palm Beach, Florida, or repurpose a closed Akron freeway, and more modest proposals that use existing infrastructure, such as another Florida city’s aim to use spaces like bus stops to encourage civic participation.1 


Gary, Indiana

City Church Ruins Garden, $163,333 (submitted by city of Gary Redevelopment Commission; submitted by Samuel Salvesen): Following in the footsteps of Salon 1861 in Montreal and St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in NYC, a downtown Gothic church in Gary will be the latest vacant church to receive a second life. The historic, abandoned church will become a ruins garden and event space.

Detroit, Michigan

Happy 18th Birthday! Local Citizenship Kit by CitizenDetroit (submitted by Sandra Stahl): On the day they become eligible to vote, Detroit residents will receive a “citizenship kit” in the mail.

Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Grand Forks Freezeway, $141,140 (submitted by Nicholas Jensen): A number of cities already convert their canals into ice skating lanesduring colder months, but the Freezeway will instead transform some of the city’s bike lanes.