Knight Foundation donates $50,000 to Chattanooga for public information

Knight Foundation donates $50,000 to Chattanooga for public information

September 25th, 2013 by Jeff LaFave in Local Regional News

Chattanooga's public information soon will be much easier to find thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.

The Benwood Foundation received the award as part of Knight's efforts to increase government transparency with the Knight Community Information Challenge, campaigning for five local organizations.

"We felt like the application was building on a lot of really great things already going on in Chattanooga around open government and local transparency," said Lori Quillen, program officer for the Benwood Foundation.

The money will go to assist the city, the Chattanooga Public Library, Open Chattanooga, Engage 3D and the Hamilton County Owner's Manual, a publication devoted to the "how" and "why" of public info.

"Just because you put data out there doesn't mean it's going to be used," Quillen said. "The real question is how you are going to engage citizens with this information."

A large dose of the funding will go to the Chattanooga Public Library, which has been teaching public access technology for more than 20 years.

"One of the things we want to do is provide online access to public information, and access it in a way that makes sense," said Corinne Hill, executive director.

Hill described the library's data filtering skills as a "natural fit" for the Knight Foundation's mission. The library will meet within two weeks to discuss how the funding will be used, but Hill says a large amount of the expenses will come from additional people hours.

Chattanooga was only one of 10 cities to receive the public information grants totaling $545,000.

"Whether you're interested in improving schools, affordable housing or air quality, good information is a key ingredient to social change," said Bahia Ramos, director of Knight's community foundation program.

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at or 423-757-6592.