Supporting Successful, Inclusive Cities


Who We Are

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation with deep local roots. We have offices in eight cities where the Knight brothers once published newspapers, and work through community foundations in 18 others, including Central Carolina Community Foundation. We work to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. Knight Foundation operates on a small scale, and therefore intentionally seeks to build upon the natural momentum of the community, while also leveraging existing assets and resources.

What We Fund

The Knight Foundation is particularly interested in supporting collaborative programs in Richland and Lexington counties that are innovative and create impact in the following categories:

  • Building on assets – connecting to key assets in the community like universities, corporations, or nature.
  • Attracting and nurturing talent – projects that cultivate, connect and attract talented people to the Columbia area.
  • Enhancing opportunity – projects that accelerate inclusive and effective pathways to economic opportunity and entrepreneurship.
  • Fostering civic engagement – breaking down barriers between residents and decision-makers; engaging underrepresented communities in civic life and leadership roles.
  • Facilitating public space public life – enhancing the public realm to be more connected and vibrant. Columbia’s Public Space Public Life Action Plan provides good examples.
  • Building “Smart” and Responsive Cities: As digital technology reshapes our lives, we invest in technology-enabled efforts that help residents connect to each other and become more informed, and that help cities be more responsive to residents.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Organizations must be determined a charitable organization in good standing under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, public entities or other charitable, educational or faith-based organizations.
  • Organizations must provide services in one or both of the following counties in South Carolina: City of Columbia and Richland.

What We Do Not Fund

  • Fundraising projects
  • Debt reduction
  • Endowment development or capital campaigns
  • Medical research
  • Sponsorships

Grant Amount

Funds are only available in the form of challenge grants. Therefore, grantees must generate a minimum 30% match to the grant award. All applicants must disclose other committed or potential funders and the dollar amount allocated for assessment and accountability in their budget. Grant amounts range, but are not typically more than $75,000.

Apply for a Grant

Applications are accepted by invitation-only throughout the year. Interested organizations should first contact the Community Foundation to discuss their project and determine eligibility. If invited to submit a proposal, the Community Foundation will work with potential grantees to submit an application to Knight Foundation.

If approved, grantees will be required to submit additional documentation to the Community Foundation throughout the year, including budgets, program plans, and interim and final reports.

Information for Grant Recipients


Think You Have a Good Idea?

If your organization has an innovative project in mind that fits Knight’s funding priorities, please contact Trimease Carter to discuss further.