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Four Minnesota projects win Knight Cities Challenge grants for innovation

The Minnesota projects are among 32 winners nationwide, which will share $5 million to put their ideas into practice.

Four Minnesota projects are among the 32 national winners of the 2015 Knight Cities Challenge.

The competition was set up to encourage innovation that will make communities more vibrant places to live and work. Eligible projects were in one of the 26 cities around the country where the Knight brothers once owned newspaper.

The St. Paul winners: 

  • 4 Play, $117,000, by Greater MSP (Submitted by Peter Frosch): Changing the way people perceive the city and its climate by inviting all residents to come together for an outdoor activity — whether it’s ice fishing or summer canoeing — once per season.
  • 8-80 Vitality Fellow, $175,000, Mayor’s Office, City of St. Paul (Submitted by Mayor Chris Coleman): Promoting a more livable St. Paul by embedding a fellow in the mayor’s office who will work across departments to manage the $42 million committed to the mayor’s 8-80 Vitality Fund, which aims to ensure that walking, biking and public spaces are a priority in all city projects.
  • MN Nice Breakers, $37,960 (Submitted by Jun-Li Wang): Making the city more welcoming by using existing events to help newcomers quickly establish social networks that attach them to the city.
  • Rolling Out the Warm Welcome Hat, $67,288 (Submitted by Jun-Li Wang): Welcoming newcomers by having city leaders hold monthly ceremonies to give them an official welcome gift, a warm hat for Minnesota winters.

The 8-80 Vitality Fellow grant gives the city of St. Paul money to cover 18 months of a worker in the Planning and Economic Development Department who will implement “activity and vitality on our streets and in public spaces by making them accessible to people of all ages and abilities.”

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The project is based on the work of urban designer Gil Penalosa.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said the Knight grant “will ensure we can engage residents, community partners and stakeholders throughout St. Paul in strengthening our city and ensuring that our investments in streets and public spaces promote economic vitality for people of all ages.”