The things that make a city awesome are so subjective. There are those that love the architecture, the arts scene, the history and museum or the iconic West Edmonton Mall. Not to mention the exciting new Ice District.
True, these things make Edmonton pretty awesome, but when you get to the root of it all, isn’t it really the people of Edmonton that make this city great?
Inspiring people by providing the funds they need to take action on creative ideas is the goal of the Edmonton Awesome Foundation. This is the local chapter of the Awesome Foundation which is spreading throughout urban centres across the planet. The foundation provides micro-grants to people or groups that follow the mandate of forwarding the interests of the concept of awesome in the universe, to paraphrase.
Jeff Cho is the dean of the Edmonton chapter. Each local chapter is self-organizing and members, or trustees, each contribute $100 out of their own pocket to create a micro-grant. Ten trustees times $100 is $1,000 that is given away to people who have awesome local projects that create two things: a strong sense of community and of course, awe.
The Awesome Foundation was created in 2009, just 7 short years ago by Tim Hwang who is based on Boston. Amazingly, there are 80 chapters globally in 19 countries with groups of caring, committed philanthropists that are only too happy to pitch in $100, no strings attached, for winning ideas.
Applying for micro-grants
Edmontonians that have an awesome idea to create more awesome can apply to the chapter and attend one of its public meetings to pitch their idea. The individual or group makes a short pitch and then must defend their awesome idea to the trustees by answering questions. Anyone at the meeting (the audience) gets to vote for the idea they like best along with the trustees in attendance. Meetings on average have about ten members who have laid their money down and are prepared to hand it over to the person or group with best idea, or at least, the idea with the most votes.
The Awesome Edmonton chapter came together in 2011 and funds about six ideas a year. Some of the projects and people it has funded have been conferences, Lego re-creations and writers. Cho says that funding can go to projects that simply create joy in Edmonton like the Love Letters 2 Strangers project.
The Awesome Foundation is so simple yet can make such an impact. Rare is the charitable foundation that has no red tape, no lengthy application process and no heavy duty rules. In a relaxed, informal way decisions are made on the spot and ideas quickly become action.
The Edmonton chapter will be holding what they call a “pitch party” in August 2016 and details on how to pitch an idea will be posted on the website. Pitch parties are general every two months on the final Friday of the month. Every event is free and everyone is welcome to attend to lend support to ideas that further promote Edmonton as an awesome place to live.