US Ignite Launches New Program to Connect Smart City Leaders with Federal Funding Opportunities; Includes Investment of More Than $200,000 from Knight Foundation

Effort will provide cities with the tools they need to develop more responsive, people-focused smart city solutions

WASHINGTON – August 8, 2018 – US Ignite Inc., a nonprofit advancing the development of smart, connected communities, has announced a new project to help cities better access federal funding opportunities that advance technology-focused urban development. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $211,000 in the project to provide cities with the tools they need to create smart city solutions that are more responsive to resident needs and preferences.

The effort will include the development of an easy-to-use online database of information, tools, and best practices, accessible for free to all. The program will also offer curated workshops and targeted technical assistance.

Many city leaders are either unaware of the growing number of federal smart city funding opportunities, or they have difficulty determining their community’s eligibility for said programs. To address this knowledge gap, US Ignite is creating a new program to offer detailed, unbiased recommendations to city leaders on the plethora of smart city tools and programs available. By way of experience, US Ignite has already supported more than 100 local governments, nonprofits, universities, and corporate partners in the grant application process for smart city funding.

This new initiative will provide cities with the guidance they need to drive decision-making on funding resources, evaluation tools, and demonstration projects. US Ignite will aggregate and offer direction on opportunities presented by federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, Economic Development Administration, Federal Communications Commission, Housing and Urban Development, and more.

“We’re focused on making these funding programs accessible to cities around the country, especially those in underserved rural or low-income areas,” says Nick Maynard, US Ignite’s Chief Strategy Officer. “With this funding, we aim to put these tools in the hands of cities everywhere, giving them a path to developing high-impact smart city strategies at home.”

Knight Foundation is supporting the initiative as part of its efforts to create cities of the future designed, driven by, and serving—people. “Knight Foundation is both inspired by and optimistic for technology’s ability to improve the ways communities interact with residents,” said Lilian Coral, Knight Foundation director for national strategy and technology innovation. “This new program will enable city leaders to easily identify and pursue funding for smart city technology, allowing them to develop strategies that engage the public, and create more effective, people-driven solutions.”

US Ignite’s latest initiative will build on its efforts across a portfolio of programs to help accelerate smart city development. The Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC) program is a network of more than 25 cities in the United States and Australia committed to developing and sharing next-generation Internet of Things (IoT) applications. US Ignite Forum is a program designed to share learnings from large-scale smart city deployments across the country through workshops and best practice playbooks. The Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program will deploy four city-scale wireless testbeds with $100 million in cash and in-kind funding from the NSF and more than 25 industry partners.

Support for US Ignite forms part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to harness the growth of digital technology to improve how communities respond, connect to and engage with residents. Knight’s smart city approach aims to ensure residents are at the center of all decisions. The foundation believes that technology opens important avenues to engage all citizens in the design and management of cities.


About US Ignite

US Ignite is a non-profit organization accelerating the smart city movement by guiding communities into the connected future, creating a path for private sector growth, and advancing technology research that’s at the heart of smart city development.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit