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John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: Community Information Challenge

Case Overview

FSG designed and is currently implementing a multi-year evaluation of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge by assessing the initiative’s progress toward meeting the Knight Foundation’s foundation- and community-level goals and supporting strategic learning.

The Challenge

In 2008, the Knight Foundation launched a five-year, $24 million initiative – the Community Information Challenge (KCIC) – to respond to the rapid decline of local, community information. The KCIC aims to catalyze efforts among community and place-based foundations to creatively use media and technology to keep their communities informed and engaged. The Foundation is using FSG’s evaluation findings to support their own strategic decision-making, as well as advance the field’s awareness of and commitment to community information and media.

Approach & Solutions

The evaluation focused on understanding progress toward the Foundation’s two main goals:

  • Community and place-based foundations are increasingly engaged in helping to meet community information need
  • Communities are better informed and engaged

FSG developed a logic model to guide the scope and priorities of the evaluation, as well as helped identify the purpose for the evaluation and several key evaluation questions. FSG has worked with the Foundation staff to revisit and refine the key evaluation questions each year, so that information collected is used to answer the most useful and relevant questions about the Initiative.

Data has been collected by FSG through online surveys, in-depth interviews, document review, and website analysis. Six primary stakeholder groups have served as data sources to measure project outputs, outcomes and impact. While a few aspects of the evaluation were designed to track the same indicators over multiple years, a central component of the evaluation has been shared and strategic learning.

To increase the impact of its work, Knight Foundation promotes shared learning among grantees, in the field of community and place-based foundations, and among community-based media innovators. The FSG team has provided technical assistance, led webinars and published field-wide reports on evaluation findings and learning for all foundations and organizations implementing information and media projects. FSG is also helping Knight Foundation communicate evaluation results with stakeholders in compelling and useful ways. Several publications are available for download on the FSG and Knight Foundation website including the 2011 Reports from the Field, Opportunity for Foundation Leadership, IMPACT: A Guide to Evaluating Community Information Projects, and Measuring the Online Impact of Your Community Information Project.

Through 2011, FSG continues to serve as Knight Foundation’s strategic learning and evaluation partner for the KCIC.

About The Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers.

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