Press Releases


KCCI Reveals Project to Connect University Students with Community, Opens Application to New Community Catalysts

The latest proposal for developing Tallahassee’s sense of place begins its initial phase

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— During a Sept. 21 10th anniversary event, the Knight Creative Communities Institute (KCCI) announced its project for the 2018 year, Community-University Connectivity. The application cycle for the 2018 program year begins today and closes Nov. 3, 2017. Through the self-nomination process, a diverse volunteer team called Community Catalysts, will be selected to work with other community leaders to develop a project that better connects and engages our universities with the Tallahassee community.

“This project truly aligns with KCCI’s mission,” said Betsy Couch, Executive Director of KCCI. “KCCI’s efforts are both an economic driver and an exercise in cooperation between diverse entities. This project will capitalize on and better connect Tallahassee’s existing resources of higher education and a community with a wide variety of offerings.”

The 2018 project announcement took place during KCCI’s 10th anniversary event held at Fifth and Thomas, a restaurant and chic music venue in Midtown. This location holds a unique KCCI significance because it represents the convergence of three of KCCI’s projects: Identify Tallahassee, which helped create the Midtown brand and laid the framework for sustained growth in the area; Amp Up Tallahassee, which enhanced awareness of Tallahassee’s diverse music scene and outlined the construction of the Fifth Avenue Plaza in Midtown in 2011; and Tallahassee Music Week, which in 2015 kicked off the annual week-long festival that showcases Tallahassee’s local musical talent.

This will be KCCI’s 10th project year of shaping Tallahassee’s identity through placemaking endeavors, which help drive economic development and bring a wide variety of people together. KCCI trains its Community Catalysts on economist Richard Florida’s research. This research shows that the ability of a region to attract and retain members of the creative sector and stimulate economic prosperity depends on a balance of the 4Ts: Talent, Territorial Assets, Technology and Tolerance. KCCI then challenges the Catalysts to implement a sense of place project that helps attract and retain the creative class, young professionals and college graduates.

Highlights of KCCI’s history include:

  • Get Gaines Going, a 2007 initiative to revitalize Gaines Street. KCCI’s work moved the timetable for Gaines Street improvements up by 11 years, and since then has attracted over $200 million in private investment to the area and established the Gaines Street Area as a district where art and entertainment flourish.
  • Frenchtown Farmer’s Market. In an effort to help resolve Frenchtown’s food desert, KCCI volunteers worked in conjunction with Frenchtown neighborhood leaders and established Tallahassee’s only all-local, twice-weekly market. Funded by donations — including a $100,000 USDA grant in 2015 — the Frenchtown Farmers Market lowers the barrier to entry for local farmers and food entrepreneurs by providing equipment and business development services. In 2017, it served nearly 4,000 customers and sales are projected to amount to more than $50,000.
  • Cultivate Cascades. What started as a research project highlighting the potential of Cascades Park led to the team making this outdoor destination even more of a Tallahassee landmark. The team, working with more than 30 partners, successfully advocated for a comprehensive amphitheater that would meet the community’s needs for an outdoor performance venue and created the “Discovery” playscape. The 2017 Word of South Festival at Cascades amassed $990,700 worth of economic impact and almost 32,000 people have paid to attend concerts in the Cascades amphitheater as of fall 2017. Discovery, presented by First Commerce Credit Union, is one-of-a-kind in North Florida and has become a popular attraction in Cascades Park.
  • Southside Sense of Place transformed a blighted roadway into a multi-use, pedestrian-friendly area connecting FAMU with the businesses on South Monroe and South Adams. Sidewalks, seating walls and areas to filter stormwater runoff were among the many additions to Palmer Avenue that enhanced its sense of place, which is why Palmer Avenue now serves as a model for future renovations between South Monroe and South Adams.

KCCI’s current project involves the creation of a three-dimensional piece of public art displaying the #iHeartTally hashtag. The sculpture will be strategically placed in the South Monroe (SOMO) district in order to further develop sense of place in one of Tallahassee’s emerging artistic enclaves. In partnership with Visit Tallahassee, at the event the team debuted a mobile version of #iHeartTally that will travel around the community at popular events.  For the permanent public art sculpture and park area, the #iHeartTally team is currently in its fundraising stage, and those interested in donating can visit

“As Community Catalysts, we are out there championing projects that enhance our community,” said Tiffany Bowers, a member of the 2017 Catalyst Class. “It is a win-win when a wide range of residents, government and businesses come together. I’m excited to see our #iHeartTally 2017 project come to fruition.”

Individuals throughout the Tallahassee area are encouraged to apply for a position in the 2018 Catalyst Class, which will be researching, designing and executing the Community-University Connectivity project. For more information about the project idea or if you would like to apply to be a 2018 Community Catalyst, please visit and complete the application at the bottom on the page in the “Get Involved” section.