2018 at Causeway

Year of Depth


Each December, we choose a word to guide the coming year. 2018 was our Year of Depth. For the last five years, we have been casting a wide net and trying to get as many grassroots leaders as possible inspired and equipped to create change in their communities through our Co.Starters for Causes classes, the Causeway Challenge, and countless one-on-one coaching sessions. As the number of Causeway alumni grows (its now at ___!) we felt a growing need to dig deeper with the people who come to us for guidance.

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Our first neighorhood Challenge.

This year we hosted our first-ever neighborhood-based Challenge with the Maclellan Foundation. We have always see the Challenge as an important power shift. In contrast to the top-down approaches that are so often the norm, the Challenge allows individuals to create the change they want to see in their own communities.

Causeway does not make the decision about who gets the money—a panel of community judges does. Causeway does not implement the projects—grassroots leaders who live in the neighborhood do. We are here as a bridge: connecting individual leaders to the established foundations and nonprofits in Chattanooga. We believe this is a win-win: Grassroots leaders are getting resources from local foundations, and foundations are getting the on-the-ground perspective of local leaders.

This summer a panel of community judges selected 10 winners who answered the question, “How can we use common spaces to strengthen the neighborhoods in 37404?” The winners are all implementing their projects now. The Maclellan Foundation facilitated a partnership with five other local foundations to provide a second round of funding for the most scalable projects. The winners will be chosen by the foundations in the Spring.

One of the most exciting things about this Challenge for us has been the cross-neighborhood relationships that we have seen develop. Iunike Stevens lives in Highland Park. Ric Morris lives across McCallie Avenue in Glenwood. They did not know each other before the Causeway Challenge, but now one of Iunike’s food pantries has a home in Ric’s front yard.

< Learn more about their projects


Launching the Social Innovation Studio

This year, we piloted a new program that we are calling the Social Innovation Studio. The Studio grew out of a need we felt to further support causes who have excelled in one of our previous programs. It is not about taking an idea from bad to good; it’s about taking an idea from good to great.

To pilot the program, we chose two of our alumni who had so much opportunity in front of them that they needed some help figuring out which things to step into, and which ones to let go.

We met Theresa Nix of Downside Up in 2015 through our crowdfunding platform and the Play Challenge. Downside Up provides creative spaces and experiences that encourage growth, inspire learning, and develop connections for children with disabilities and their families.

We met Kaysie Strickland of Homes and Havens through our CO.STARTERS for Causes class in 2016. Homes and Havens celebrates women overcoming a life crisis by creating a haven in her own home that will inspire her to rebuild, heal, and find joy in new beginnings.

Both Kaysie and Theresa had recently made the shift to working on their causes full-time. They are both considering bold moves like: opening physical spaces, hiring a staff, or starting a social enterprise arm of their cause. We’ve spent the year working closely with each of them and their boards to help them make a plan for the next three years.

We will continue to work with them both throughout the next year, and we plan to add two more causes to The Studio in 2019.

Learn more about their work >

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One Table to Gratefull

In 2014 we hosted our very first One Table. We thought it would be a fun and meaningful opportunity to break down some barriers and bring people together who don’t normally interact. We had no idea that we would still be hosting it five years later, much less that other cities would want to replicate it.

Because we ran into some competing brands nationally, we made the tough decision to rebrand One Table to Gratefull Chattanooga. We were so pleased to see that Chattanooga embraced the change, making this year our best one yet with over 1600 people in attendance.

The name change allowed other cities to host their own version of the event. We created a replication guide for community leaders in other cities, and so far we have been contacted by potential hosts in Cincinnati, Chicago, D.C., Charlotte, Austin, Dalton, Fort Worth, and Florence, Alabama. The event has already been replicated in Huntsville, Alabama, Nashville, and Milan, Tennessee.

This is only the beginning for Gratefull.


Resurrecting Bingo’s Market

In 2015, when the Edney Building opened right across the street from Patten Towers, a group of people who worked in the Innovation District started playing bingo with the residents of Patten Towers. Through relationships built there we learned that the residents were struggling with a lack of access to healthy, affordable food.

Causeway, The Enterprise Center, and The YMCA originally opened Bingo’s Market in the fall of 2017 as a pilot initiative to see if we could offer a solution to this problem. The community rallied around the idea, raising over $11,000 for the project through our crowdfunding campaign. We received national attention through Next City, and the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit.

While Bingo’s showed early success, we had to temporarily close for the past several months as the building underwent a change in ownership. We held on to high hopes that we would be able to reopen under the new ownership, and we are so thrilled to see that hope become a reality as we enter into a 3-year rent-free agreement with Elmington Property Management. We are so thankful for their vision, and for the support of both the residents of Patten Towers and employees in the Innovation District.


Data charts here:
• ideas heard since 2011
• % grants given to women and minorities
• % more inspired
• % more equipped


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