Harwood Institute in the Bradenton Herald about Realize Bradenton

Realize Bradenton wins Knight Foundation contest for $90K
Bradenton Herald
March 31, 2015

BRADENTON -- Realize Bradenton has been named as one of 32 winners in the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's $5 million national challenge that asked people throughout the country, "What's your best idea to make cities more successful?"

Realize Bradenton's ReuseReCONNECT concept captured $90,104 of the overall winnings, which can be used toward the application of the submitted concept.

The Knight Foundation serves 26 cities, but the contest was open to everyone to submit ideas in how to improve one of the Knight cities' success rate by focusing on three key areas, including retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement. More than 7,000 ideas were submitted.

"Who knew there were so many potential civic innovators, and we were thrilled to see that number of submissions," said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives.

A team of reviewers from all over the country poured over each submission to first narrow the contest to 126 finalists and eventually the 32 winners. Realize Bradenton's concept involves experimenting with various outdoor public spaces to create vibrant,

and sometimes spontaneous, community hubs.

That kind of social interaction was most desired by millennials during Realize Bradenton's partnership with the Patterson Foundation's "Aspirations to Actions" initiative with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation.

According to Realize Bradenton Executive Director Johnette Isham, the Patterson Foundation initiative led to "numerous conversations with millennials spanning economic, professional, creative and educational backgrounds to find out what they desire in their Bradenton community."