The Knight brothers' passion for journalism and communities found its spark in Northeast Ohio. Their private, independent foundation originated with the Knight family's belief in the value of education. The brothers' father, editor-publisher Charles Landon Knight, had a tradition of helping financially strapped students pay for college. To honor his memory, the brothers established the Knight Memorial Education Fund in 1940 to provide financial aid to college students from the Akron area. The fund existed until December 1950 when its assets of $9,047 were transferred to the newly created Knight Foundation.
The Knight Foundation was organized principally to carry out the work of the Knight Memorial Education Fund. Even then, the foundation made small grants to local educational, cultural and social service institutions as well as to a few journalism-related causes.
For the first 10 years, the foundation's assets came from contributions from the Akron Beacon Journal and The Miami Herald, and personal gifts by Jack and Jim Knight. Other Knight newspapers began to contribute small amounts in the early 1960s – a move that led to a limited number of grants to cities from which the contributions came.
On Jan. 1, 1993, the foundation became the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to honor the memory of the brothers who had created it.
Across the 26 Knight cities, the Community Partners Program deploys program directors who provide community leadership, seeking big ideas with the potential to transform a community, a system, a network. Each city benefits from the wisdom of a Knight Community Advisory Committee – a panel of local residents offering community connections and guidance on opportunities for funding.
KNIGHT'S 26 COMMUNITIES
The Communities Program aims to improve the quality of life in 26 U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. In every community, Knight Foundation's program directors look to local advisory committees to provide critical insight and help identify big ideas and transformational opportunities.