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Knight Foundation gives TED $985K grant to advance the use of technology to turn ideas into action

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A scene from the Knight Foundation / TED workshop on Sunday, February 24, 2013. Photo: Michael Brands

A scene from the Knight Foundation / TED workshop on Sunday, February 24, 2013. Photo: Michael Brands

The Knight Foundation announced today a grant to TED — $985K to help TED leverage technology to turn into an action platform, one that allows members of the TED community to work on amplifying and measuring the impact of ideas as they ripple through society, producing technology tools and best practices for connected action. The grant is part of Knight’s Tech for Engagement Initiative.

“Understanding how ideas turn into action is a key priority for many in our community,” says TED’s own Chris Anderson. “We’re excited to be building a new web feature to track the impact some of our talks have.”


On Sunday, the Knight Foundation held a workshop in advance of TED2013 to bring together close to 20 people with expertise in online engagement from the business, tech, academic and nonprofit sectors to brainstorm guiding principles and tactics for the development of as an action platform. The Knight grant will support the development and evolution of that platform. It will also support two TED fellows dedicated to Tech for Engagement projects.

Meanwhile, the Knight Foundation is co-sponsoring a social space that is hosting several TED Challenges at TED2013, as well as funding the TED Fellows Program; Knight is also a supporter of the City 2.0 initiative.

TED is among three recipients of major grants from the Knight Foundation announced today. Code for America, which connects a network of tech-enthusiasts with cities that need their web expertise, received a $5 million grant to expand its four programs to 13 communities. GovLab — which is housed at New York University and teaches students to design, build and implement tech solutions to problems — received a grant of $3.12 million.

Damian Thorman, Knight’s director of national programs, finds common threads among these grants and actions.

“We believe in the power of connected action,” he says. “The field of tech for engagement is young, and [it] needs infrastructure to develop to its full potential.”