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Report: Knight Foundation Needs Greater Focus on Equity

The Florida-based Knight Foundation, established by newspaper owners John and James Knight in 1940, lacks clear goals, according to a new report. (Caprisco/morguefile)
The Florida-based Knight Foundation, established by newspaper owners John and James Knight in 1940, lacks clear goals, according to a new report. (Caprisco/morguefile)
December 14, 2015

MIAMI, Fla. - The Miami-based Knight Foundation is one of the best-known names in the world of philanthropy, but a new report questions whether its overall strategy is doing the most good, particularly in lifting up those who are underserved.

Lisa Ranghelli, director of foundation assessment with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the lead researcher on the report, says there is no question the Knight Foundation is an innovator in supporting the arts, community development, and media projects.

But she says a survey of the Foundation's grantees and other funders revealed they see a lack of clear goals and objectives.

"There isn't a consistent commitment to making sure that those with the sort of least wealth and opportunity, the most marginalized communities in the 26 cities that they fund, that those folks really are kind of part of that effort," says Ranghelli.

According to the report, the Knight Foundation holds $2.4 billion in assets and gave out more than $100 million in grants in 2013. A Knight Foundation spokesperson says while they disagree with some of the findings of the report, they will consider its recommendations.

Ranghelli says what the report revealed about the Knight Foundation rings true for many other philanthropic efforts, and is evidence that good intentions and a "one-size-fits-all approach" to giving don't necessarily address the needs of marginalized communities.

"You have to really look at what are the barriers to those particular populations benefiting, and make sure that your interventions and your strategies are addressing the particular barriers for those populations,"

The Knight Foundation operates in 26 communities across the country where brothers John and James Knight owned newspapers, including four in Florida.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL