Five local projects focused on diversity in Chattanooga will have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the city. 

As part of this year’s Causeway Challenge, each project will be awarded $10,000 to tackle the question, “How can we make Chattanooga a city where people from all backgrounds live, work, play and learn together?”

In addition to monetary support, winners will receive a four-month experience in Causeway’s incubation program.

Anyone with an idea can apply. Applications will be accepted through May 19. Click here for more information.

Causeway will host a speaker panel Thursday at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to help spark ideas. The panel is free to the public, and tacos will be provided. Dinner and networking begin at 6:30 p.m., with the panel at 7 p.m.

Volunteers painted this Highland Park mural as a part of Causeway’s Cause Mob. (Photo: Contributed)

The speakers are Keri Randolph of the Public Education Foundation and the director of Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub; Marcus Ellsworth, a local artist and community organizer at Open Chattanooga; Harlan Breaux, founder of HB Studios and Jam Session Night Chattanooga; and Enoch Elwell, co-founder and director of CO.STARTERS.

Chelsea Conrad, Causeway’s director of creative engagement, said:

We want to see people who are all in on their projects, really committed, but also willing to give and receive feedback to strengthen their ideas and the ideas of the other winners. The cohort effect is really important to us-the winners helping each other grow, and forming relationships and connections with and through each other. We would love to see some really creative solutions to this problem that are based on a deep and personal knowledge of the specific place and people they are working with.

Last year’s Causeway Challenge focused on connectivity and awarded 20 ideas $2,500 each. Click here to view the projects. This year, Causeway has raised the stakes a bit and learned from last year’s pilot program.

“We realized through the last challenge that these ideas could really benefit from a more intensive support system,” said Heather DeGaetano, Causeway’s managing director. “Our approach this time will give the challenge winners specific guidance and advice to really strengthen their projects, and will allow them to launch with a solid team of supporters in their corner.”