Proposals are being sought to compete for funding for the next SOUP dinner on Thursday, April 7th at Dara's Gardens in South Knoxville. Knoxville SOUP is a dinner and micro-funding event designed to raise money for creative projects that are proposed, voted on and enacted by members of the community.

The most recent Knoxville SOUP, held January 7th, raised money for the Dogwood Outdoor Coalition. The Coalition is made up of almost a dozen partners working together to reclaim and improve an outdoor space behind Dogwood Elementary School. “Winning the SOUP grant helped the Dogwood Outdoor Coalition purchase bridge materials and safety equipment for some of the 58 volunteers that participated with us for our MLK work day. It's true worth, though, is immeasurable as it reflects support from a community that encourages outdoor recreation and education for its community members,” said Ariel Allen of CAC who presented on the Coalition’s behalf.

The top vote getters are not the only winners however. At our November dinner, Tanna Nicely, principal of South Knoxville Elementary School presented a proposal for SKE Scientists in the Library. While this project didn’t win the people’s choice, it received complete funding from a private individual BECAUSE they learned about the funding need through SOUP publicity. Mrs. Nicely was contacted by former SKE students Mr. and Mrs. Neal who wished to fund it because the project directly impacted students. They sent a check for $500 right before Christmas to a surprised Mrs. Nicely. SKE utilized the money to buy inquiry-based science experiments for the students during the last week of January.

Also at our November dinner, Jackie Hardin presented a proposal for the Family Friendly Drum Circle @ Ijams. This proposal also didn’t win the people’s choice BUT the Student Council of SKE is currently collecting money to surprise the drum circle with a drum purchase. Mrs. Nicely and some of the council heard about their outstanding project. “It is an opportunity to give back to our fine community and show our students what it means to give back and pay it forward.”

Knoxville SOUP also showcases a local artist at each dinner. Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to complete our online application and have the opportunity to show their art or share their talent.

Applications can be completed online at to submit a community project proposal or to be a featured artist. The proposal application is simple. Just answer four questions about the project and why the project matters to Knoxville. Project proposals should be submitted online no later than March 31. Up to four individuals or teams will be selected to present their project at the dinner; they will be notified no later than April 4th. If a project is chosen, the presenters will give a brief four-minute oral presentation and answer a few questions at the dinner. Winners will be invited back to report on the success of their project at future dinners.

Proposals can be for anything that will benefit the community or society in general. Winning projects in other cities that have SOUP dinners have improved playgrounds, performed landscaping and beautification projects, created free lending libraries at area bus stops, sponsored educational programs, supported other charitable endeavors and even launched small businesses with a social focus. There are no hard and fast rules to what a proposal should be, only that someone envisions it, asks for it and the diners vote for it.

Doors open at 6 p.m. on April 7th for the dinner at Dara’s Garden, 2637 Maryville Pike- in South Knoxville. Suggested donations of $5 are collected at the door. Proposals will be presented at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. Diners will have about an hour to eat, share and connect with others while voting for the project they like best. By 8:15, the votes will be tallied and the winning project will be awarded all donations raised at the door.

R. Neal's picture

@jlynn this is a great

@jlynn this is a great program that is producing tangible results in the South Knoxville community, not to mention getting people in the community involved. We were happy for the opportunity to help out and encourage others to do so as well.

Keep up the good work. We hope y'all have continued success in your worthwhile endeavor and that it spreads to other communities.

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