Now accepting applications for 2019!

We believe that the downtown is the heartbeat of the community and when the heart is strong then the other parts of the community will be alive and vibrant.
— Athens, TN Thriving Communities Team (2018)


Thriving Communities program is a community accelerator program designed to enhance leadership and community development throughout the region through creative placemaking. Participating teams learn strategic approaches to leverage their artistic and cultural assets in order to spark economic vibrancy and growth from within.

At the end of the program, each team is eligible to apply for a seed grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation to make their community strategy a reality.

The 10-month program guides leaders in revitalizing their communities, teaching them to:

  • Identify cultural assets

  • Spark collective feedback

  • Test bold ideas

  • Revise and repeat

Join the Thriving Communities network to ignite growth from within in your city! Read on for application guidelines.




Active participation in Thriving Communities will give team members professional development training and experience in volunteer management, program development, grant writing and community engagement. Through community events and workshops, teams will connect with other local leaders throughout the region who have, or, are currently participating in the Thriving Communities program, as well as a qualified resource team. Upon successful completion of the Thriving Communities program, teams are eligible to apply for seed funding for project implementation.

What makes a strong team:

  • Minimum of four (4), maximum of six (6) dedicated, local community members from varying disciplines

  •  Team reflects the interest and diversity of the entire community

  • Consistent attendance by all team members at all sessions

  • Citizen-led with engagement from local government and elected officials

Eligibility requirements:

  • The community is located within the 16-county, tri-state Chattanooga region

  • Community team members commit to attend scheduled design thinking sessions, in person workshops and virtual coaching check-ins

  • Letter of support from a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as the fiduciary sponsor of the program

  • Letter of support from a local government agency

  • Cover letter outlining what you hope your community and team will accomplish by participating in the Thriving Communities Initiative

Questions? Contact Kelly Farina, Program Coordinator, at (423) 648-2954 or


2018 community signposts of success:



Monetary and in-kind contributions


Collaboration partners



Artists engaged


Out-of-town guest attendance



Volunteers engaged



Features in local media outlets

The Thriving Communities process has been about finding an identity. It was always there, but we needed to make the intangible tangible. We needed to find our voice, and Thrive has given us the platform to stand up and say, ‘This is who we are. This is where we want to go next.
— Susan Jarrett, Whitwell, TN


A visual capture of two Georgia communities that have seen results through creative placemaking.

Thriving communities is made possible by the generous support of the