Christian Curriculum

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union awards grants to 5 small businesses

The Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union has announced the winners of the fourth annual Idea Leap Grant Contest.

At the outdoor pitch competition on the lawn of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, the finalists were given up to five minutes to explain why they deserved the grant.

A short question-and-answer session with the judges followed each presentation. The judges rated the finalists on a five-scale rubric.

Volunteer judges included Vickye Bone, Vice President, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, Jennie DeCook, Director, Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State Community College, Emily Gilliam, Credit Analyst, Brightbridge Capital, Charles Fisher, Partner / Director, Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, PC, Danielle Landrum, co-owner of Locals Only Gifts and Goods, 2020 Idea Leap Grant recipient and 2021 celebrity judge, and Diane Parks, retired director of Leadership Chattanooga, Chattanooga Region Chamber of Commerce. Dionne Jenkins, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at TVFCU, chaired the TVFCU Idea Leap Grant jury.

First place – $ 21,000

Chatt Taste Food Tours, LLC, Chattanooga, Briana Garza

Grant uses: To build the region’s first electric mobile dining car, an elevated dining room on wheels.

Second place – $ 15,000

Champion Christian Learning Academy, Chattanooga, Cynthia Evans

Uses of Grant: To purchase furniture, playground equipment and a learning program.

Third place – $ 10,000

Wild Violet Permaculture, LLC, Signal Mountain, Nathaniel Bankhead and Bryant Hawkins

Uses of the grant: To create comprehensive training programs and materials for employees and customers, to invest in the future native plant nursery at Signal Mountain, and to expand the compost production and distribution program.

Fourth place – $ 7,000

Chic living room, Athens, Allison Stiller Grant Uses: To expand the salon by creating a continuing education space for licensed professionals, as well as adding manicure tables, pedicure chairs and treatment rooms so that we can offer more Services.

Fifth place – $ 5,000

Hoagy to the Chicago of Lil Mama, Chattanooga, Tiffany Pauldon-Banks

Uses of the grant: To invest in ongoing staff training, marketing, catering and new equipment.

The Idea Leap Grant is an extension of the credit union’s Idea Leap loan initiative that was created specifically for small businesses in 2016. To date, TVFCU has funded over $ 3.8 million in loans to emerging and start-up businesses through the loan initiative. In addition, TVFCU has awarded more than $ 183,000 in Idea Leap grants.

For more information on the Idea Leap Grant, please visit

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