The Awesome Foundation Gives Awards To Projects On The Sole Basis Of Being Awesome
Have you ever had an idea that made you think, “Damn, that would be so awesome,” but it seemed too small, too niche, too random, or too weird to actually pursue? The Awesome Foundation just might make it happen. Founded in 2009 by Tim Hwang, The Awesome Foundation provides $1,000 grants to people with, well, awesome ideas, ranging from community outreach projects to public art installations. Some of the grants aid local communities in small, practical ways — for example, one Awesome grant funded an afterschool program in East Harlem — while others support gloriously strange ventures, like a live-action version of “Dogs Playing Poker” in Ottawa.
With chapters in 17 countries around the world, The Awesome Foundation has funded over 1,600 hundred projects. Each chapter usually has 10 trustees who each contribute 100 dollars every month to fund that month’s 1,000-dollar grant. The trustees distribute the grants to projects of their choosing, with no expectation that the money will be repaid; The funds are, according to The Awesome Foundation website, “no strings attached.” At 1,000 dollars, The Awesome Foundation’s grants are relatively modest in size, but it’s that very modesty that allows Awesome chapters to fund such a wide variety of projects. As David Adams, a trustee of the New York chapter, explained to the The New York Times, “It’s not enough to fund a big thing, but it’s enough to fund an odd thing.” Some of those “odd things” include:
- The Gay Wax Museum! in Austin, Texas, “a group art show of life-size diorama-style installations depicting moments in queer history.”
- A “swarm of 20 glowing small robots” in Boston, Massachusetts.
- A project to teach kids about physics using pin-ball machines in San Francisco, California.
- Lickestra, “a musical licking performance at the intersection of food design and smart objects” in New York City.
- The Toronto Kiss Map, which shows where people have kissed all over Toronto, with stories attached.
- An exhibit on the “History of Art about Slime Molds” in Seattle, Washington.
- Pop-up Ping Pong tables for a Sydney, Australia, community.
- Ageless Art, an art therapy program for seniors in Los Angeles, California.
- A meditation program for a high school in Miami, Florida.
As the wide variety of projects sponsored by The Awesome Foundation demonstrates, “awesome” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The Awesome Foundation website explains that anyone can apply for an Awesome grant: “If you can fill out the application form, you can apply.” With its crowdsourced grants, small monetary awards, and informal set up, The Awesome Foundation offers an alternative to traditional modes of charitable giving. As Lee-Sean Huang, a founder of the New York chapter, told NYT,
Awesome grants let me contribute without dealing with that old world of big galas and charity dinners … We’re rogues giving to rogues. It’s misfit money for the weird and wonderful.
To find out more about The Awesome Foundation (and how to submit your own awesome idea to your local chapter), visit The Awesome Foundation online.