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  • $985000 from Knight Foundation on January 1, 2013



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From Civicist:

“[I]n 2013 the Knight Foundation gave the TED conference a $985,000 grant to help develop into an “action platform,” to help channel people moved by a powerful talk into taking meaningful action on the issues being raised. A few press releases and posts about the grant mention workshops convened by TED to tap the expertise of “business leaders, political activists, artists, marketing gurus, and tech whizzes” where “these big thinkers brainstormed guiding principles and tactics to develop nonprofit online action platforms, including” But the TED action platform never appeared.

Asked about this, a spokesman for TED responded by email:”

“A few years back, the idea of building an ‘action platform’ for TED made a lot of sense. Imagine taking all these ideas and giving people a way to actually do something measurable with them? Powerful stuff! We’ve long understood and loved that web development is not a straight line, and we experiment with several new projects at any given time. So we embarked on a partnership with Knight Foundation to see if we could build such a mechanism on or inside our website, the time we received that grant, we were in the midst of a full website redesign. TED Talks had exploded in popularity after we first experimented with putting TED Talk videos online for free in 2006, but we were still using a website from our old days. Our priority was building a site that could house thousands of online videos. The challenge of launching that redesign with a small team of engineers meant that we weren’t able to implement our action platform ideas on the site at the launch. But those ideas continued to incubate and contributed indirectly to the launch of a much more ambitious ideas platform a few years later called the Audacious Project which has ended up catalyzing more than $400m in funding for bold projects.TED’s main mission is to spread ideas and to trust that those ideas will influence how people think and thereby eventually lead to impact. But we’re also committed to exploring more direct ways of turning ideas into action. The Audacious Project is one such effort. There may be more in the near future. The investment that Knight Foundation made was a catalytic chapter in our journey and we’re grateful for their vision. It didn’t turn out exactly as we all imagined at the time. It actually became something better.”

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