Communities and Collaboration: Lessons Learned about Partnership Creation

20120221-110823.jpg“I’ve struggled with this partnership creation thing,” says Dennis Scholl, Vice President for Arts at Knight Foundation. Seventy community foundations across the nation have leveraged Knight grants to develop partnerships with over 450 community partners ranging from libraries to legacy media, social media and universities. A full report of this effort is available for download here, via Knight Foundation’s website: Collaboration and Connection: How Foundations Partner Effectively to Address Their Communities’ Information Needs.

From a broad perspective, Joaquin Alvarado, Senior Vice President for Digital Innovation at American Public Media, has developed a partner network with 70 media organizations around the nation. The partnerships allow the sharing of reporting on issues that matter to communities, and develop opportunities for even the most diminished voices to be heard by major media outlets.

In a more local example, Mary Lou Fulton, Senior Program Manager at The California Endowment, asks us to consider the lower income areas in our cities and the last time they appeared in the media. She says these communities suffer from the “murders and festivals syndrome.” News coverage in these areas are often reactive. The endowment funds multiple health-related projects including a substantial investment in youth media. Partnerships, she notes, are essential in under-funded communities. some examples of youth media efforts in California funded by The California Endowment and Knight Foundation:

Richmond Pulse
Coachella Unincorporated
TheKnowFresno

Lamenting the trajectory of our society, Sandy Close, Executive Director of New America Media, says journalism may be seen as a trade of old, but “working with journalism gives young people the sense of anticipating the future.” New America Media is an on-the-ground partner of the California Endowment, focusing on ethnic media. “Something is stirring in these sites,” she says, “our oldest notions of community are in shared space.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s 2012 Media Learning Seminar in Miami Florida brought together leaders of community foundations, media professionals, technology entrepreneurs, researchers, educators, and foundation staff in the Foundation’s quest for informed and engaged communities. I attended as a representative of the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, a grantee of Knight Foundation. Read my articles on the conference here.

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