The Awesome Foundation is a global movement devoted to funding grassroots projects around the world. Its vision is to recognize the individual and the ideas that come from ordinary people who want to do something to change the world. They created a funding vehicle whereby nothing, not even bureaucracy and paperwork, will stifle creativity and hinder a project from reaching its full potential.
The Awesome Foundation operates 89 chapters located in 18 countries around the world. Each chapter acts autonomously, pooling their own money from ten or more micro-trustees. The chapter makes funding decisions independently.
The Awesome Foundation chapters decide what causes and projects to support. Interest areas are not bordered but are governed primarily by chapter location and the interests of the chapter members.
The Awesome Foundation looks for projects that will have a wide reach, with a preference for applicants who will contribute to their own community. Applicants can be individuals, organizations or citizen’s advocacy groups. Projects can focus on the arts, community development, technology training and any other area that will create change in a community. The foundation particularly favors ideas that are novel in their approach to the issue being addressed, or that are experimental. The key word is “awesome.”
Awesome Foundation chapters award a $1000 grant every month to support an awesome idea. Chapters are a collective of individuals who pool their private monthly donations of $100 to reach the $1000 that is available to fund projects. Chapters are typically formed around shared ideologies, causes, hobbies and other factors that bring people together.
The Awesome Foundation has funded thousands of initiatives. Here are two projects that were funded in 2018:
Oaktown Ballers, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, California. Oakland Ballers is devoted to creating opportunities for at-risk boys and girls to become proficient in the sport of baseball. A special effort is made to provide baseball skills training to minority girls, so they can compete in games. A long-term outcome is leadership development and educational achievement.
Ciclochard is a unique initiative of a Milan homeless assistance agency. For many years, a group of volunteers has been providing hot meals and drinks to the homeless. However, they learned that what the homeless yearned for was connection. A group of 110 volunteers is working with the homeless to access community-based projects that give them connection, responsibility and a sense of self-worth.
The Foundation's History
The Awesome Foundation was launched by Tim Hwang in 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. Hwang wanted to create a channel whereby simple, but impactful ideas of individuals could receive a modest amount of funding. He organized a group of 10 friends and launched what would become the Awesome Foundation.
The application process was online and very simple. Hwang and his original group of trustees found that $1,000 was small enough to not worry about accountability but large enough to give life to projects and ideas. The projects they funded did not stop once the money ran out. They secured the attention of the public, drawing more support so they could grow and become annual or ongoing projects.