When Causeway organizersannounced the latest Causeway Challenge to help create ideas to solve youth violence in Chattanooga, they knew it would be the most daunting challenge yet.

The local nonprofit is offering up to $30,000 for “community-based projects” to help build safer neighborhoods and reduce youth violence. Specifically, the question is “How can we empower youth in Chattanooga to create safer communities?”

Up to 10 individuals will be awarded $3,000 and four months of mentorship for their ideas. More information is available here.

But before the community can submit project applications, Causeway is hosting aReverse Pitchkickoff event Thursday night to help narrow the focus.


During the event at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, 12 local organizations that address youth violence daily-in either preventive or crisis aspects-will discuss the biggest struggles they face in attempting to address the issue.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m., and everyone is invited to attend.

“As we’ve been helping each of our partners prepare their reverse pitches, we’ve heard everything from ‘We need a way to keep gang members from recruiting kids at the library’ to ‘We need to build trust and buy-in with the parents of the kids we are mentoring,'” said Chelsea Conrad, director of creative engagement at Causeway. “We hope that information will help people apply to the challenge with real solutions that our city needs, rather than just a shot in the dark that does not include the context of what’s already happening.”

This Causeway Challenge marks the first challenge to include partner organization that are on the front lines of the problem every day.

“It’s a win-win because the individuals get to work with organizations already doing the work, who have deep relationships and professional expertise, while the organizations get an infusion of fresh, innovative ideas and people with passion,” said Abby Garrison, Causeway’s executive director. “At the end of the pilot phase, [they] may choose to continue the program together if it makes sense.”

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.