Katie Smith

Chattanooga School Guide


Katie Smith believes that parents should know what their options are when it comes to choosing a school.


Katie is a Chattanooga native and a public school advocate. As a mom looking for options for her two girls, she saw the need for a resource that informed parents about the different schools in Hamilton County and what they each have to offer. She was inspired by the Memphis School Guide, and applied to our Education Challenge with a similar idea. She wanted to provide a creative outlet for schools to show what they do well through a short video.


Causeway connected Katie to Unifi-Ed after we got word that they were working on a similar guide to help parents navigate local schools using data. Unifi-Ed and Katie both agreed: you can not get an honest look at a school without showing both the data and the culture. They teamed up to make both of their projects even stronger. Through that connection, Unifi-Ed got to show a more holistic view of each school, and Katie got a sustainable structure to guarantee her project’s success.

Through the Causeway Challenge grant, in partnership with Unifi-Ed, Katie was able to use her previous experience as a project manager to direct the video components of the School Guide. The project gives each of the 74 schools in Hamilton County a chance to showcase what’s unique about their school. Each school gets to be creative. Katie and the videographers go to each campus for two hours, ask the school to pick three students to interview, and then film an aspect of the school that captures their unique learning spirit.

Unifi-Ed will release the videos throughout the year. To make the most out of each video, schools can use their video for social media and HCDE gets to use the videos for recruiting teachers to the area.


Unifi-Ed hosted a fantastic launch party on April 1, 2016 and will continue to rollout videos throughout the year until all of them are available. Ideally, the videos will have a 3-5 year lifespan and if the project continues to be successful, they will consider doing it again and updating the videos!




The Causeway Challenge is an ideas contest centered around a specific question, that empowers individuals to pilot their ideas for community change, with grassroots funding and hands-on coaching. 

Katie applied to the Education Challenge in the Spring of 2016, which asked: How can parents help transform public education in Chattanooga? Her original idea was to create a school guide that would inform parents about all the education options in Chattanooga. We connected Katie with Unifi-Ed when we realized they had similar goals. They were able to collaborate to strengthen both of their projects.