TEDx Atlanta challenge in high gear

Goal: Raise $100K for “Year of Boulevard” by May 15

Say what you will about tech types; when they decide to do something they don’t mess around. Back in March, the tech-arts-design-entreprenuerial whiz kids attending the spring TEDxAtlanta event decided to grant their inaugural “Wish” prize to the Year of Boulevard initiative and raised $6,500 in cash and $25,000 in pledges on the spot. Nice work.

Ever the over-achievers, the TEDx group didn’t stop there. Within two weeks, they formed a steering committee, set up a nifty online pledge page (of course), created a Year of Boulevard branding campaign (see the logo at the right), mounted a social media effort, lined up teen internships, and most importantly and tangibly, set an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 by May 15. That cash will send hundreds of Village of Bedford Pines kids to camps run by neighborhood organizations Operation P.E.A.C.E. and Truly Living Well urban farm.

“It’s exciting because this is a strategic approach to part of a longer initiative,” says W. Imara Canady, who’s on the TEDx steering committee. “It’s not asking a group of external people to come into a community and change things, but asking them to donate funds to help the exisiting community organizations to do more.” Canady, a veteran of local government who now serves as vice president of strategic partnerships for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, says that the “Year of Boulevard” effort is a potential model for revitalization — in other corners of Atlanta and beyond.

Bankrolling summer programs makes long-term sense, says Canady. “This isn’t raising money to send kids to camp to get them off the street. It’s creating an opportunity for kids to have a safe space to go and have experiences they wouldn’t otherwise.” The urban farm program, for example, exposes campers to farming, entrepreneurship, and affordable, healthy eating. And from an economic impact, it’s a good investment, he says, noting pragmatically that the $100K raised to send a couple hundred kids to camp is “about what it costs to keep a single teen in the juvenile system for a year.”

So far, donations have come in ranging from $50 to $1,000, says Canady. “No dollar amount is too small, and absolutely everything that comes in is going right to the programs.”

Find out more at tedxatlanta.com/prize