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.


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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

Thread is a communal storytelling app which is accessible to elderly users and enables cross-generational groups to collectively record, share, and preserve personal oral histories and images in a digital form. 

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

Thread will be developed for Android and iOS devices with an interaction design that aims to overcome the technological barriers that prevent many in the elderly community from participating in digital culture. Mobile devices, with their ubiquity and connectivity, provide a perfect platform for people of all ages to collect and consume media, and our goal is to create an innovative simplified storytelling tool which harnesses these assets

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

Though designed specifically to be inclusive of the elderly community, people of all ages who value stories and memories will use Thread because it will be the easiest way to compile and record personal stories with images using mobile and tablet devices. 

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

  1. Through either participation in, or consuming media produced through initiatives where we bring Thread into communities across the United States (particularly rural and isolated areas). 
  2. We intend to work with organizations geared both toward the elderly and toward storytelling to get the word out about Thread, while also leveraging our mailing lists and other connections to people who follow and promote our work on blogs and media sites. 
  3. Via the project website, advertising, and Social Media campaigns intended to get children, grandchildren, and other technologically-savvy users to use Thread with their elderly loved-ones.

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

Thread was developed out of another project in which the creators experienced difficulties accessing and recording oral histories of elderly ranchers in rural New Mexico over an extended period of time; if built, we intend to distribute Thread to these communities as a pilot program which captures the stories of this vibrant culture. We also intend to make connections with existing storytelling and oral history venues and programs (e.g. The Moth, This American Life, Story Corps) both for mentorship and to explore possibilities for Thread to play a part in some aspect of their programming.

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

We have a working prototype, and our next step is to develop the back end an expand across our target mobile platforms. 

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

Thread is fueled by a highly personal and urgent need to make it easier to preserve and share the stories of grandparents and parents in a spontaneous way through interactions that happen over time (and often across distance). We will consider the project a success not simply when people of all ages have a tool that makes this possible, but when they start to use it in ways we could never have imagined to give an authentic digital form to their collective memories, and draw connections amongst widely diverse communities. 

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

While our team has significant experience designing and developing storytelling platforms and mobile applications,  we are particularly interested in the mentorship and connections that the Knight foundation provides to help successfully execute, launch, and promote app capable of reaching our target users on a massive scale. We are also at a critical point where we need financial support for our team to grow and successfully finish designing, developing, testing and promoting the app by our internal deadline of November 2013 (our grandparents are beginning to forget their stories).

Additional details:
Please list who is on your team: 
Caroline OhTom Gerhardt, and Kacie Kinzer .
Expected number of months to complete project: 14
Estimated Project Cost: $320,000
Name: Kacie Kinzer
Twitter: kaciekinzer
Email address:
Organization [if applicable]: TKOH
City: New York, NY
Country: USA
How did you learn about the contest? Friend