Knight News Challenge

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas. The first round of 2013, which opens in February, will invite innovators from all disciplines to focus on tools for open government. In 2012, three challenge rounds, each focused on an emerging trend, drew more than 2,500 entries.

Challenge 1 - on NETWORKS: Winners were announced June 18.

Challenge 2 - on DATA: Winners were announced Sept. 20.

Challenge 3 – on MOBILE: Winners were announced Jan. 17.

Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.

Mobilizing Psychology

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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

Leveraging mobile technology to weave rigorously tested, brief and timely psychological interventions into people’s daily lives to increase openness to new information, and improve social functioning, physical health, and general well-being.

2. How will your project use mobile tools and approaches? [2 sentences]

By designing research-validated psychological apps for mobile devices and using mobile media to deliver them unobtrusively at multiple time points, we can reach more people than any other existing methods of psychological knowledge dissemination. Crucially, mobile technology will allow us, for example, to time the interventions to key stressors or conflicts in people’s lives, and personalize the content of the app through users’ initial input of demographic information and subsequent iterative feedback.

3. Who will use it and why? [1 sentence]

While we will initially target the apps toward university students and young professionals (young adults are among those most prone to the deleterious effects of stress and most likely to frequently use a smartphone), the unprecedented explosion of personal mobile technology use across the general population, both within the United States and abroad, will enable us to deploy rigorously-tested psychological interventions to a broader adult user base after beta testing. 

4. Please list three ways they would learn about your project.

1.      Splash page: the page will include a device image, scientific information about the app, very basic details about the app’s functionality and social media links. A newsletter sign-up form will also give people the opportunity to stay updated about progress.

2.      Sneak peek: we will share sneak peeks of the work in progress on sites like DribbbleForrstEmber, and app-focused blogs. This will allow us to get extremely high quality feedback from the best in the business, and generate interest in the apps by having peers and potential users actually contributing to the final version.

3.      Beta testers: leveraging the splash page, sneak peek, our own social and professional networks, and other similar assets, we can entice potential users to sign up to beta test an app. Not only will beta testers provide feedback about how to improve the app, they’ll also become advocates for it once an app actually launches. 

5. What connections have you made, or will you make, with others [communities, organizations or networks] about your project? [2 sentences]

We have partnered with Samar Singla, the CEO of Click-Labs (, and with Geoffrey L. Cohen, Professor of Psychology, Education, and Business at Stanford University, to transform validated psychological interventions into mobile apps for large-scale public use. Together we will promote these apps not only to potential users but also to other psychological researchers who will be able to use the open-source platform to create scalable mobile applications based on scientific insights from their research projects.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [1-2 sentences, feel free to include links]

We have build an offline version of our minimal viable product, and as a team, we have the necessary expertise to take this to the next stage.

Years of randomized, double-blind experiments demonstrate the powerful benefits of timely interventions in diverse domains, such as education, well-being, philanthropy and volunteering, and conflict reduction - though brief, they can have powerful effects because they target key psychological factors. 

7. What does success for your project look like? [1-2 sentences]

We will consider our project initially successful once we have:

a) disseminated psychological interventions through the Mobilizing Psychology apps to a large user base,

b) evaluated the efficacy of our interventions by analyzing users’ data to assess improvements in their psychological, physical, and social well-being, and

(c) refined the apps accordingly, thus promoting better-informed and healthier people, and ultimately stronger communities.

8. What resources do you need to succeed? [1-2 sentences]

To succeed, we are requesting funds for the design and development of mobile apps, and their accompanying websites and databases for user-generated data, as well as for the support of a statistical consultant to work with the large datasets that will be generated during the apps’ iterative building and refining process. Additionally, it would be tremendously helpful to receive mentorship and advice from Knight’s network of media entrepreneurs to quickly turn our idea into a successful reality.    

Additional details: 

Considerable research demonstrates that psychological interventions work outside of the laboratory, for example, in institutional environments like schools. While the interventions themselves are brief and seemingly unmemorable experiences, they produce measurably large and lasting benefits. Given the efficacy of such interventions, it is critical to apply the insights from previous research more widely and leverage mobile technology to embed simple, low-cost psychological interventions into people’s daily lives with the goal of improving their well-being, performance, and quality of life.  Thank you for your consideration of the Mobilizing Psychology project.

Please list who is on your team: 

1. Yula Paluy, Ph.D. Candidate in Psychology, Stanford University ( Background in social and cognitive psychology, neuroscience, data analysis, design thinking, and enduring interest in peace building.

2. Samar Singla, CEO, Click-Labs ( Background in physics, entrepreneurship, mobile advertising, mobile strategy, mobile development, social media, design, large data and analytics.

3. Geoffrey L. Cohen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Education and Business, Stanford University ( Advisor and pioneer of theory-driven, rigorously tested intervention strategies that further our understanding of the processes underpinning social problems and that offer solutions to alleviate them.

Expected number of months to complete project:  12 – 18 months.
Estimated Project Cost:   $150,000  

Breakdown: 2 part-time developers (90k), statistical consulting and data visualization (30k), equipment (5K), developer and user relations - conference and presentation travel, developer events, competitions, etc. (25K). 
Total for 1 year: (~ $150k)

Name:  Yula Paluy
Twitter:  @clicklabs      
Email address:    
Organization [if applicable]:  
Stanford University and Click-Labs    
San Francisco    
United States    
How did you learn about the contest?
 Through the Foundation Center RFP mailing list 


People Who Liked This Post

  1. Yula Paluy submitted this to newschallenge