In December 2012, The Better Bombshell was the recipient of a grant from the Seattle branch of the Awesome Foundation.
Haven’t heard of the Awesome Foundation? Honestly, neither had we. But we’ve fallen in love with them, and it’s not just because they’re helping us fund our dreams. According to their website, the AF is “…an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe.”
The Seattle Awesome Foundation has recently funded a student-run space exploration program, a group that makes safe sex kits for homeless teens, and a nomadic street art sticker vending machine. When we met local trustee Rachel Popkin, we were blown away by her genuine enthusiasm for supporting local community art.
We hadn’t heard much about the Awesome Foundation until recently. Could you tell us a little bit about the structure of the organization and how it works? How long has the AF been around?
The Awesome Foundation started in Boston in 2009. The founders identified a need for smaller, less restrictive grants and got a group of 10 “microtrustees” together. The model is pretty straightforward: every month the group gets together, each person pitches in $100, and they pick a project to fund. As the word got out, the Awesome Foundation started spreading — three years later, we have more than 40 chapters on five continents!
Awesome Foundation has been in Seattle since Fall 2011, thanks to Seattle founders Nathaniel James and Tommer Peterson.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a twenty-something techie with a long-running interest in community service, as well as crazy schemes (both of which we fund!) I’ve been a longtime friend and follower of the Awesome Foundation, but this is my first month as a trustee.
We love that you’re committed to supporting local grassroots projects! What do you look for in choosing projects to support?
There are a few different things we look for in a project. One of our biggest priorities is local community impact: we want things that make a visible impact on people in Seattle. We also like knowing that your idea is possible. Applicants who come in with a clear plan and budget, even if the idea itself is a big risk, tend to do much better. In general, we’re also biased towards projects that are new (not incremental), fast, and are run by individuals or small groups (not large, faceless organizations). Of course, we reserve the right to ignore all of these guidelines for a sufficiently awesome project!
There are Awesome Foundation Chapters all over the world. Are you guys affiliated with other chapters?
We’re loosely affiliated with other chapters. There aren’t any mandatory shared operating procedures, but the broader Awesome community is very supportive. We can always go to other chapters with questions, ideas, and requests for help, and the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies (IHAS) exists specifically to support chapters. IHAS has also started organizing an annual summit where we can meet people from other chapters, talk about common problems, share new ideas, and renew our enthusiasm for Awesome.
We love the idea of small, fast, direct community grants so much that we’re considering joining the Awesome Foundation at some point. In the meantime, what other things might help foster that same support for creativity?
Awesome! We’re always happy to hear from people who are interested in joining us – we have a rotational guest trustee program, for anyone who wants to try it out for a month, in addition to our full-time trustee positions (contact email@example.com for details).
As far as supporting creativity in Seattle goes, there are more ways to get involved than we could ever list! For starters, you can check out our blog and see if any of our grantees sound interesting. Ignite and Bloom! are a good way to hear about new projects in Seattle. If you’d like to try your hand at giving a little bit of money, Sprout and Agency (formerly Party with a Purpose) are fun donation events and Seattle Artthrob is a CSA for art instead of agriculture. Another (often overlooked) way to contribute is to do your own projects and inspire others to follow your example. And if your project happens to have a $1000 price tag, you should definitely send us an application.
Huge thanks to Rachel Popkin and the rest of the trustees with the Seattle Awesome Foundation. As a nonprofit project run by three women, we’re incredibly grateful for any gesture of support. We’re working hard to take this project from the initial stages (big dreams in a local coffee shop) to end goal (an innovative book in public libraries, bookstores, and schools), but there are significant costs associated with a project of this magnitude: website hosting, trademark fees, payment for contributors, editorial help, proofreading assistance, etc.
Here’s the scary truth: we haven’t met our budget goals yet. Don’t get us wrong — we’ll pull this off, come hell or high water. But we’re not quite sure how just yet. So if you’re reading this and appreciate what we do, please consider helping us: pre-order the book, make a tax-deductible monetary or in-kind donation, or just ask how you can help.
Oh, and for all of you who have already helped? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.