Chattanooga-Based Nonprofit Is Recipient Of National Award For New Youth-Led Mental Health Initiative

  • Monday, May 9, 2022

Be The Change Youth Initiative’s (Be)Kind Initiative is a recipient of the 2022 Call For Kindness, sponsored by Riley’s Way Foundation in New York. With this recognition comes a yearlong fellowship for BTCYI founder, Sydney Guerrette, and a grant to fund “a project of their own that inspires kindness and strengthens their local, national, or global communities.”

BTCYI is a Chattanooga-based organization that uses music and conversations to engage with students and teach them about mental health. But they also have several community projects like Concert For a Cause, a concert series that raises funds for other local nonprofits through music and business collaborations. Sydney and her younger brother, Brayden, are a dynamic musical duo, exemplifying how to be young leaders and excel at showing how to stay positive and be vulnerable. Their talent and compassion for their community has allowed them to grow the organization quickly, and they are beloved by everyone with which they work, said officials.

Riley’s Way Foundation chose BTCYI’s (Be) Kind Initiative as one of only 10 youth-led, mental health projects for the 2022 Call For Kindness, a special category created for this year. The (Be)Kind Initiative is a collaboration with local drive thru coffee business (Be) Caffeinated where Sydney and Brayden partner with local schools as they share their own personal stories centered around mental health, and the importance of creating relationships that encourage positivity, accountability, and a willingness to share with others what they are feeling. Students are then given the opportunity to write encouraging words and phrases of coffee sleeves that will be given to customers at (Be) Caffeinated, creating a ripple of kindness in the Chattanooga community.

Brody Scott, the Community School coordinator at Soddy Daisy Middle School, shared the following about their experience with the (Be) Kind Initiative: “The (Be) Kind Initiative was an incredible experience for our students. Through the power of music and vulnerability, Brayden and Sydney gave voice and language to students who are hurting. Students were not left with themselves, however, and were empowered to do something fun and simple to love people in their community as a response. The entire experience was grounded in Sydney and Brayden’s gift for connecting with the students who needed it. Our students felt seen and heard because they were willing to sit at the kids’ feet and listen.”

To be a part of the change, find BTCYI online at or on Instagram @bethechangeyi. They accept donations to allow them to continue to impact local youth and support other nonprofits and small businesses, and are regularly holding events and performing in the area.

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