Causeway launched the latest Causeway Challenge on Thursday, and it asks the difficult question, "How can we empower youth in Chattanooga to create safer communities?"

The local nonprofit is offering up to $30,000 for "community-based projects" to help build safer neighborhoods and reduce youth violence. This challenge is different from previous challenges in that Causeway sought public input on the specifics of what the next challenge would be.

And the response was overwhelming. 

According to a release, residents desperately want an opportunity to help do something about the violence affecting youth in our neighborhoods.

From the release:

Causeway's mission is to inspire and equip Chattanoogans to develop smarter solutions to our city's toughest challenges, and this issue is certainly a tough challenge. From January to August of this year, there were 23 homicides and 86 shootings in Chattanooga, many of them involving people under the age of 25, as both the victims and the aggressors. The systemic issue has strong roots in poverty, education and access to opportunities.

And it's a problem that can't be tackled alone. Causeway has enlisted the help of many local organizations to help with their services over the coming months. These organizations will "identify gaps in services and opportunities for innovation."

Past Causeway Challenge winner Roenesha Anderson's project PLAY uses athletic tournaments to build understanding between at-risk youth and the police. (Photo: Contributed)

Participants are:

  • YMCA
  • The Bethlehem Center
  • Girl Scouts
  • Chattanooga Department of Youth and Family Development
  • On Point
  • Hope for the Inner City
  • Partnership for Families, Children and Adults
  • Boys to Men
  • Operation Get Active
  • Splash
  • Northside Neighborhood House
  • Chattanooga Police Department

How to submit ideas
Up to 10 individuals will be awarded $3,000 and four months of mentorship for their ideas.

Potential applicants are encouraged to attend Reverse Pitch at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center Sept. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

During the event, the partner organizations listed above will share the biggest problems they face when interacting and working with youth. The community is then encouraged to offer solutions via the Causeway Challenge to help solve those problems.

Following Reverse Pitch, applicants will have until Oct. 29 to submit project ideas. The winning ideas will be announced Nov. 10, and the projects will be implemented through March.

Causeway recommends that all projects be led by individuals, be realistic and manageable, bring people together and be alight with Causeway's mission and values.

Click here for more information. 

"We welcome applications from all Chattanoogans, from all neighborhoods," said Abby Garrison, Causeway's executive director. "Causeway is here to support these projects, and we will pair winners with local organizations who work on this issue every day. Through those partnerships, we hope to make a big impact, reducing and preventing youth violence in our city."

Past Causeway Challenges have asked questions such as, "How can we make Chattanooga a more connected city?," "How can we make Chattanooga a city where people from all backgrounds live, work, play and learn together?," "How can parents help transform public education in Chattanooga?" and "How can more opportunities to play make Chattanooga a stronger city?"

Causeway is funded in part by the Benwood Foundation, Footprint Foundation and hundreds of donations from Chattanoogans wanting to make a difference in their hometown.