It’s hard not to stop on a stroll through Charlotte. Our city is thriving, our neighborhoods are growing stronger, and there’s a sense that anything is possible.
There’s no denying we’re on the upswing. But what’s behind Charlotte’s growth? How do we ensure our city continues to be a more vibrant place?
These are questions that we at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation are asking. And we’re putting $15 million over three years into answering them in Charlotte and 25 other communities. We believe that Charlotte’s activists, designers, artists, hackers, architects, educators, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, block captains, and social workers have the solutions, and we want you to take hold of the city’s future.
All are welcome to submit ideas to the Knight Cities Challenge (knightcities.org), which asks civic innovators to answer the question: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful? Ideas should focus on what we believe are the three key drivers of success in Charlotte: (1) Talent: Attracting and keeping talented people; (2) Opportunity: Expanding economic opportunity; and (3) Engagement: Creating a culture of civic engagement.
Why these three focus areas, instead of traditional metrics such as better school systems or more employers? Because smart research has shown that these three are key to long-term success in our communities. Strengthening these aspects of our community is a holistic approach to community success; it gives our community the tools it needs to do everything else.
Now there’s a chance for all of us to actively participate in and sustain our city’s growth. Do your part and submit an idea at knightcities.org before the Oct. 27 deadline. No project is too small – as long as your idea is big.
Susan Patterson is Knight Foundation’s Program Director in Charlotte. Applications for the Knight Cities Challenge will be accepted until noon Oct. 27 at www.knightcities.org.