San Antonio, Texas—Live news coverage and on-demand broadcasts focusing on issues, concerns, and events exclusive to San Antonio neighborhoods will soon be just a click away, thanks to a two-year $488,500 challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Awarded to the San Antonio Area Foundation, in collaboration with the Alamo Area Community Information System (AACIS), the grant is part of a national five-year $24 million Knight Community Information Challenge (www.informationneeds.org) initiative to help community foundations find creative ways to deploy new media and technology and keep communities informed. The San Antonio Area Foundation is one of only 21 community foundations in the country funded by this initiative.
“Our goal is to revitalize neighbor-to-neighbor communications with a 21st century twist,” explains Clarence R. “Reggie” Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Antonio Area Foundation. In partnership with over 23 AACIS civic and nonprofit leaders, representing an array of citywide public, private, governmental, educational, and healthcare organizations, the Area Foundation will help lead Phase I planning and implementation of the project. Both the Alamo Area Community Information System and the San Antonio Area Foundation have committed funds to fulfill the Phase I challenge grant.
Existing AACIS community technology centers will expand into neighborhood communication centers, managed by professional community journalists and video technologists with portable production capabilities to stream live webcasts and provide on-demand videos. “These television network quality NOWCasts will focus on everyday neighborhood issues and concerns — from medical, education, arts and culture, to government issues and city-wide emergency disaster preparedness. ” In addition, trained volunteer citizen journalists will help raise public awareness, encourage usage and participation, as well as build peer-to-peer communications.
“A revised AACIS website will serve as the communications portal,” offers Pilar Oates, Executive Director of Methodist Healthcare Ministries and AACIS Vice-Chair. “The redesign will showcase live and on-demand video broadcasts, search engine capability for diverse community resources, as well as blogs and message boards. NOWCast viewers will also have instant access to volunteer and charitable outreach for their neighborhood.”
With the potential to transform intercity communications, the Area Foundation and AACIS members are reaching out to business and government leaders, organizations, and other nonprofit agencies to assist with the planning and implementation. “Several organizations including the San Antonio Library Foundation, the San Antonio Junior League, and the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County are interested in participating in the NOWCast project. We encourage everyone in the community to learn how they can utilize and benefit from this innovative new communication network,” invites Williams.
The Knight Community Information Challenge is premised on two strongly held beliefs: in a democracy, information is essential for a community to function properly; it is a core need; and since community foundations are established to meet core community needs, they are logical partners in meeting the information needs of communities.
"At Knight Foundation, we firmly believe that you cannot effectively manage the affairs of a community in a democracy without the free flow of information. That's why we believe that information is a core community need, as critical as any to a healthy community," said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president and CEO.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
About the San Antonio Area Foundation
Since its inception in 1964, the San Antonio Area Foundation has partnered with more than 500 individuals, families, businesses, and community group donors to address the philanthropic needs of our South Central Texas home. Established through a trust created in memory of San Antonio business leader and philanthropist Nat Goldsmith, the Area Foundation is dedicated to its 45-year mission - "... helping donors achieve their charitable goals for the greater benefit of the community." From scholarships to educational programs; environmental issue to support for wounded military heroes; animal welfare to senior social and health care programs, the San Antonio Area Foundation serves to understand and support innovative solutions for our community's growing challenges. More information is available at www.saafdn.org.
The Alamo Area Community Information System (AACIS) is comprised of over 25 public, private, governmental, educational, and healthcare organizations working together to create opportunities for community connection to new technologies, rich information resources, and the educational, economic and social opportunities. Governed by community stakeholders, the nonprofit organization is invested in the vision of a shared community technology information system that is culturally relevant and helps build neighborhood assets. For additional information, visit www.aacis.org.