Calling Civic Innovators to Act Now: Emerging City Champions Fellowship Open for Applications

Community champions are proving that we can create more livable cities that foster public life and promote civic engagement. Some things take years, but others can happen right now. The K880 Emerging City Champions Fellowship is an opportunity for young leaders who are ready to take action now.

Communities around the world are taking big steps towards becoming more livable by thinking small. Parklets, DIY wayfinding, and pop-up bike sharing programs – to name a few – are proving that meaningful improvements to the public realm can be made within months, not years, and funded by hundreds, not millions of dollars. The K880 Emerging City Champions Fellowship program will provide opportunities for 24 civic innovators with this same spirit of civic entrepreneurialism and passion for inclusive community change. With the support of 8 80 Cities, an international nonprofit dedicated to transforming cities, the Emerging City Champions will strengthen mobility, improve public spaces, and enhance civic engagement in their communities.

Powered by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the K880 Emerging City Champions Fellowship is open to young leaders based in the eight resident communities where Knight invests: Akron, OH; Charlotte, NC; Detroit, MI; Macon, GA; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; San Jose, CA; St. Paul, MN. The Emerging City Champions is open to anyone with an innovative idea and the ability to implement it. Applicants may be activists, tactical urbanists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects; everyone is welcome. We are seeking applicants from diverse backgrounds with fresh perspectives, and innovative solutions. Innovators and creative problem solvers between the ages of 19-35 are encouraged to apply by May 8, 2015.

The Fellowship has three key objectives: 1) To identify new leaders who will become lifelong champions of their community and work to create people-friendly, livable cities that foster public life and promote civic engagement; 2) To support the creation of 24 “Doable Projects” that will work to advance change in the Champion’s home city; 3) To build a network of Champions who will work together, learn from and support each other.

Successful applicants will be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and support they need to make immediate and lasting impact in their communities. The Champions will be invited to attend the Emerging City Champions Studio, taking place June 12-16, 2015 in Toronto, Canada, which was recently named the best city in the world to live in by the Economist. The Emerging City Champions Studio will include guided tours and interactive workshops, where the Champions will work together to refine their project plans. Guest presenters and expert workshop leaders will expose the Champions to inspiring stories of community change, and guide them through each step of developing their projects. The Studio will provide opportunities for the Champions to collaborate and work with peers from their home city in order to establish a local network of support. Upon returning to their home city, each Champion will receive $5,000 to be used towards the implementation of their inclusive community-building project.

Community champions are proving that we can create more livable cities that foster public life and promote civic engagement. Some things take years, but others can happen right now. The K880 Emerging City Champions Fellowship is an opportunity for young leaders who are ready to take action now. By creating a network of support, the Emerging City Champions will empower new voices and establish lifelong community champions.

To apply to the Emerging City Champions Fellowship, click here.

8 80 Cities is a non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada. We are dedicated to contributing to the transformation of cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places. Our approach is to engage people and communities across multiple sectors to inspire the creation of cities that are easily accessible, safe and enjoyable for all. We achieve our mission through grant projects, advocacy work and our innovative services.

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Ryan O’Connor is an urban planner with a background in community development and public realm revitalization. As a Project Manager at 8 80 Cities, Ryan has hosted inclusive community engagement sessions and workshops across North America, and contributed to the development of high-impact projects such as a free public bike share system, temporary public spaces, and a neighbourhood ice rink. By helping communities to think big and act small, Ryan’s work contributes to the creation of vibrant public spaces and stronger pedestrian and cycling networks. Before joining 8 80 Cities, Ryan worked on a variety of public realm improvement projects – from parklets to plazas – and contributed to a community planning process with the City of Vancouver. Ryan holds a MA in planning from the University of British Columbia.

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