La Sala Digital | La Paz Chattanooga

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La Sala Digital | La Paz Chattanooga

La Paz Chattanooga is the leading Latinx and Hispanic community organization in Southeast Tennessee. Their mission is to empower and engage Chattanooga’s Latinx population through advocacy and education. They do this by connecting community members to resources that help them thrive, gain skills and become engaged in our community. Over the past two years, La Paz has expanded its classes and programs to include digital access and equity. Connecting low-income parents to digital tools ensures equal access to learning opportunities for their family. Barriers facing Latinx families extend into the realm of digital literacy. We can close the digital literacy gap and help individuals overcome barriers by providing Chattanooga's Latinx community with a mobile computer lab named La Sala Digital (The Digital Room).

La Sala Digital will have 20 Chrome books, thanks to a partnership with Tech Goes Home, the Enterprise Center’s digital inclusion program, complete with a charging station, projector and screen. The first project using the new equipment (plus an instructor of course) is a Citizenship Interview Preparation course in partnership with Tennessee Immigrant Empowerment Solutions. This is a 30 hour naturalization course that will be offered over 15 weeks and will help permanent residents prepare for their naturalization test. The second is the Plaza Comunitaria (Community Plaza) — a program in partnership with the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta. It will help United States based Latinx’s learn to read and write in Spanish and finish elementary and intermediate level education.

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Culinary Academy | Chatter Box Cafe + Bringing Vision Into Focus

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Culinary Academy | Chatter Box Cafe + Bringing Vision Into Focus

Brandon Ellis is the man behind Chatter Box Cafe. If you’ve never eaten his BBQ, you need to. Thanks to a partnership with Bringing Vision Into Focus, and our $3,000 grant, two high school students will enter Culinary Academy. What does that mean? The Culinary Academy program will provide participants fundamental food service prep skills through on the job training consisting of 3 progressive levels. At the end of this 3 month course, at risk working age teens will be better equipped to enter the workforce in food prep/service industry. The purpose is to develop more productive citizens by creating critical and practical thinkers while providing an employment opportunity.

Our $3,000 will be used to provide ServSafe certification curriculum testing and facilitation, wages for the two youth (80 hours paid internships 10 hours a week for 8 weeks) and to cover kitchen supplies and equipment necessary to to train participants in a commercial kitchen.

This programming will reach teens that are at a crossroad in life. These teens could go down the road of destruction, however with guidance, responsibility, accountability and documented progress through food service training and a paid internship, they will be guided in the right direction. Ultimately Chattanooga will benefit from this incubator through more engaged at risk youth and more entry level food service workers. This program will also help local Chattanooga businesses cut entry level training costs. #winning

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Cat Medical Expenses for Homeless and Seniors | The Alice Fund

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Cat Medical Expenses for Homeless and Seniors | The Alice Fund

Whether or not you like cats, our $3,000 May grant helps seniors and homeless people in Chattanooga. In many instances, the feline pet is the primary source of interaction for the applicants. Because of the nature of cats - i.e. that they can thrive indoors and do not have to be walked - they are pets of choice for seniors and those who are homebound. This project would specifically benefit our neighbors who are economically deprived, homebound, and/or homeless, with special preference given to senior citizens. The reality is sometimes they make a choice between their own medical needs and those of their best friends.

So who will be redistributing the money? The Alice Fund is a 501c 3 named in honor of a feral cat named Alice. It was established to assist Chattanoogans in need who do not have funds to support the care of their best friends and companions - their feline pets. The Alice Fund accepts applications from all in our community and partners with veterinarians to provide effective, low cost support for the pets' medical needs. Applicants must have a good prognosis for their cat, show financial need (through vetting by the veterinarian helping their cat) and contribute financially in some way regardless of how small the amount is.

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ASL Inclusion Youth Camping Crew | Southeast Conservation Corps

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ASL Inclusion Youth Camping Crew | Southeast Conservation Corps

Did you know there are American Sign Language Inclusion (ASLi) trail crews in every other region in the country but the Southeast? These crews for deaf youth and young adults provide access to job training and skills in conservation or the outdoor environmental field. With Chattanooga gaining national recognition for its outdoor recreational opportunities, Southeast Conservation Corps (SECC) believes those perks should be extended to all members of our community. ASLi crews are one way to increase inclusion to a population of people who otherwise have greater barriers to access and less opportunity to work and explore our natural places. 

Our $985 grant will be used to purchase eight sets of camping equipment, one for each member of the ASLi crew. This includes eight tents, eight sleeping bags, and eight backpacks thanks to a pro deal from The North Face. This gear will be used by both crews in 2019, as they run consecutively, totaling the number of people being supported by the gear to 16 teens (16-19 years in age) in 2019. After launching the pilot crew this summer, SECC believes this program will build upon itself and operate annually as our other SECC teens crew do each summer. Get outside, folks.

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Bunk Bed Build Day | Sleep in Heavenly Peace

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Bunk Bed Build Day | Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) is a volunteer 501(c)3 charitable organization that builds bunk beds for local children who are are sleeping on floors, couches, and other uncomfortable situations without beds. In October 2018, Bob and Betsy, saw this episode of Returning the Favor and now we have a chapter in Chattanooga. Not only do they deliver these beds, equipped with mattresses, sheets, pillows and a blanket to kiddos in need, but they partner with organizations, churches, businesses, and individuals to build them at events called Build Days! On its first build day in February 2019 35 beds were built. 

How do we know the beds are going to the kids that really need them? All applicants are qualified through the national selection committee. They have an online application here. Our $3,000 funded a build day to create 20 bunk beds. 40 Chattanooga kids now have beds to sleep in that were once using the floor or a couch. No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.

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Two Sensory Paths | Siskin Children's Institute

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Two Sensory Paths | Siskin Children's Institute

Siskin Children’s Institute is a staple in Chattanooga. They work to improve the quality of life for children with special needs and their families. They serve over 2,200 children a year through education, pediatric healthcare services, home & community-based programs and outreach services in the field of developmental disabilities. Our $3,000 grant will bring them two sensory paths, one in their Early Learning Center and the other in their Center for Developmental Pediatrics.

When a child with a sensory processing disorder such as Autism is in a general education classroom, their brain is trying to process several different things at once. From sitting up in the chair, the climate in the room, the other children next to them, the smells, the teacher talking, another child talking, the movements in the room, everything we usually can tune out, they are tuning into. 

SIskin’s children will have the opportunity to enjoy the sensory paths when they are feeling overwhelmed, need a break, or need to master a new skill. Their staff can also use it as a motivator as well as a tool for children to reach certain goals, such as following simple directions, counting to a certain number, recognizing letters, and so on. Parents will also benefit from having the sensory path as a motivator for their children and can enjoy seeing them achieve their goals. #winning


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Music Event Contest | Make Music Chattanooga

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Music Event Contest | Make Music Chattanooga

First, we all need to know about Make Music Day. Make Music is a free celebration of music around the world on June 21st. Launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique, it is now held on the same day in more than 800 cities in 120 countries, including Chattanooga. Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion — pours onto streets, parks, plazas, and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers. All of it is free and open to the public.

Our $1,500 will sponsor a contest where anyone can pitch, plan and lead their own Make Music CHA event. The contest winners will be given our funds to pay themselves and buy any supplies needed that are not donated or cannot be borrowed. A small portion of the funds will also be used to advertise the contest, winning events and pay photographers/videographers to document it. A few examples of past events are the Drum DuetspBuzzCommunity Drum Circle, Music on the Move, Surprise Sax Solos, the Mega Jam.

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Music Therapy | Austin Hatcher Foundation

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Music Therapy | Austin Hatcher Foundation

Pediatric cancer is abominable. Finally something we can all agree on. Enter the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. Based right here in Chattanooga, their mission is to erase the effects of pediatric cancer and optimize each child’s quality of life through essential specialized intervention beginning at the time of diagnoses and continuing throughout survivorship.

Our $1,500 grant will bring music therapy into the mix. Megan Taylor is a music therapist who has worked with teens with behavioral problems and addictions, children with developmental delays and cancer diagnoses, and adults within the memory care units. She is also working specifically with children with Cystic Fibrosis, providing them individualized music therapy services during their hospital stay. She uses a wide range of instruments to help her clients meet their goals, from songwriting to drumming, to playing the guitar, and many other instruments in between.

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