Chattanooga is one of 10 cities across the country selected to receive funding from a national foundation that seeks to support local journalism and improve government transparency through open data.
This week, the Knight Foundation announced it would award $50,000 to the Chattanooga Open Government Collaborative—a group of citizens and public entities that include The Public Library, officials in City Hall and Open Chattanooga, among others. The grant is being matched with $55,000 from the Benwood Foundation, for a total of $105,000.
In a news release, the Knight Foundation said the funds would be used to train key groups, including journalists and city employees in accessing and harnessing pubic information. The library will work on creating an online portal for community data and offer workshops and training for how it can be used to better the community at large.
Further details of the program will be released as budgets are allocated and added developments are made.
Lori Quillen, community program director at Benwood, said the foundation was excited to help facilitate the grant and looked forward to being the "convener" of different groups focused on one goal.
"The Knight Foundation funds open government and community projects across the country, so they're really focused on bringing resources besides funding," Quillen said. "That will be a real benefit, so we can be tapped into what the best practices [are] nationally. And hopefully, those relationships will be ongoing."
News of Chattanooga's selection for the grant comes on the heels of the announcement about the city being a finalist in the Code for America fellowship program, which could bring additional funding to connect technically minded citizens with their local governments. Officials will find out if Chattanooga is selected from a pool of 10 finalists in October.
Tim Moreland, who heads Open Chattanooga, said the possible combination of funding from the Knight Foundation and Code for America would be "a great synergy."
"There's a keen interest here in seeing what we can do when we take an asset that's sitting right there and seeing the things we can build on top of it," Moreland said. "There's an interest at City Hall; there's interest at the foundations and in groups like ours. It's really exciting, and if we could get this Code for America project, it would fit so well. It would be a perfect complement to it."
Other cities with entities selected as recipients for this year's round of grants from the Knight Foundation are Anchorage, Alaska; Lexington, Ky.; New Orleans; Gary, Ind.; Los Angeles; Santa Fe, N.M.; Miami; Boston; and Yakima, Wash.
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