During the Summer of 2009, a few small-time philanthropists came together in Boston with an awesome idea. Together they raised $1,000 to fund something awesome. The very first grant the group issued paid for a project that built the world’s largest portable hammock made up of a combination of steel pipes and a rope constructed of recycled plastic bottles. The foundation’s mission is stated to be to forward the interest of awesome in the universe, $1,000 at a time. Sounds pretty weird? Sounds pretty awesome, if you ask me.
In the short time since its founding, this idea has spread like wildfire. The Awesome Foundation now has a ton of local chapters across the United States and Canada and even a few international chapters in cities like Tel Aviv, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Berlin. There are now 88 chapters operating across 18 countries worldwide with more groups on the way. To date the foundation has doled out over 800 awesome grants providing more than $800,000 for awesome projects around the world. In almost all cases, chapters raise funding locally and issue around one grant per month. Each chapter is made up of a board of trustees that get together monthly to decide which idea they will collectively fund.
Just about anything can be considered for an awesome grant as long as the concept is awesome. Projects can center around an arts project, an education initiative or a social welfare cause. Funding is available for almost anything you can come up with as long as its fairly peculiar. Unlike most grants, funding is distributed to individuals that propose awesome projects. There is no requirement to have tax-exempt status to receive this grant and there are no conditions placed on how the money can be spent.
Some pretty interesting stuff has been funded over the years including this project in Los Angeles that spread swings randomly across the city. There was a grant issued in Pittsburgh that resulted in a yarn bomb where area artists converged to knit the city’s Andy Warhol Bridge. But awesome grants are not just issued to fund odd ball art projects. A group in Ottawa used the money to start an organic farming program for area seniors so they could grow their own food. Interesting educational projects and community programs often get picked to receive funding.
To apply for an awesome grant, you merely visit the international Awesome Foundation website and fill out this easy application with a little information about yourself, a description of your project and a breakdown of how you intend to use the money. You can attach images to go along with your proposal to show off your awesome idea. But make sure to select the city you wish to apply for at the bottom of the online application. It’s probably the easiest application process I’ve ever seen for a grant request. There are no strict deadlines, no letter of intent to file and you won’t waste hours and hours putting together a long-winded grant proposal. And that in itself is pretty awesome.