Urban Planning Knight Foundation
Carroll - Rittenhouse Square Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Rittenhouse Square, viewed from the AKA Hotel at 18th and Walnut streets, shows the park's northeast entrance and the surrounding high-rise buildings.

June 13, 2017

Knight Foundation grants provide opportunities for city design, immigrants in Philadelphia

After receiving 4,500 applications nationwide, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced its 2017 Knight Cities Challenge winners, including five Philadelphia projects that specifically outline ways to improve life in the City of Brotherly Love.

Together, the funds received from the five organizations are more than $1 million, and getting the biggest piece is the city of Philadelphia’s PHL Participatory Lab project, which was awarded a $338,000 grant to bring it to life.

The PHL Participatory Design Lab will give Philadelphians the opportunity to be part of designing city services and solutions. They will bring a mobile space, the “design lab,” to participants.

A $300,000 grant was awarded to Little Giant Creative, a marketing agency that will use the money to launch a series of meetings in different cities with officials, social entrepreneurs, activists and innovators to find equitable community development solutions.

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, a nonprofit that specializes in showcasing and teaching about Arab culture through its art and literature, received $180,000 for its project "Tabadul: [Re]Presenting and [Ex]Changing Our America." The project will use public spaces to create photo galleries of young people and their “expressions of identity.”

Unique among the award recipients is Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, a Kensington coffee shop that will use its $50,000 grant to bring diverse, aspiring comic creators together in a space to workshop stories and receive professional development services. The shop’s project is called “ Up Up & Away: Building a Programming Space for Comics & Beyond.”

The fifth and final Philadelphia organization is the Southeast Asian Mutual Resistance Corp. The organization has the vision to create an open marketplace in Mifflin Square Park that will showcase a variety of immigrant cuisine. The $175,478 award will be put toward not only helping immigrants find entrepreneurial opportunities but also for connecting diverse communities through the marketplace.

For a full list of the 33 Knight Challenge recipients, which span across 15 states, click here.