We Didn't Think It Was Possible, But Food Just Got MORE Awesome

Could you use a spare $1,000 to make your culinary dream come true? The Boston-based Awesome Foundation, which in the last two years has grown into an international network making micro-grants to engineers, artists, and idealists in 20 cities, has just launched a food-themed grant program, and they’re taking applications now. Like all of the Awesome Foundation grant projects, there’s not much required to apply, just an awesome idea and a plan for how you’d use the $1,000 bucks.

The way the Awesome Foundation works is simple: A group of 10-12 people all sign up to be trustees of their local chapter, and every month, they each commit $100 of their own money to support a new project. Here in Boston, the grants have helped fund a massive hammock, an invisible instruments project, and happiness hats. Creating a food-themed grant network was a logical evolution from that, says Jeff Potter, an author and trustee of the new group. Potter says they received more than 50 applications for projects within the first 24 hours and will be naming their first grantee in August.

So far, the Awesome Food grant applications fall into three categories, Potter explains: The wacky (a mobile burrito-eating device that resembles a push-pop); the earnest (a vegetable garden for a Montessori school); and the ‘you kind of don’t get it, do you?’ (as was the case for the person who wanted to use the money to go out to dinner). But the grants, albeit small, serve not only to help fund ideas, they tend to spark creativity and also bolster people’s imagination, reinforcing for grantees that yes, indeed, that is an awesome idea. “There’s a certain amount of cache” someone gets from being awarded an Awesome grant, Potter explained. “It’s not just the cash.”

What’s more, the Awesome Foundation projects, along with similar micro-grant making entities Kickstarter and Sunday Soup, provide an alternative to traditional nonprofit fundraising methods, says Christina Xu, a member of the Boston chapter. “All of the best features of the Awesome Foundation are perfect counters to the worst features of the nonprofit fundraising aid model,” she says. “Where they’re slow, we’re really fast. Where they’re totally rigid, we’re infinitely flexible. And while the the aid field has come under fire for poverty porn — spreading images of people looking their worst in order to get donor funds — we’re doing the opposite. We’re promoting awesomeness.”

To learn more about Awesome Food and the Awesome Foundation, or to apply for their grants, visit their site. Applications for Awesome Food’s first grant will be accepted through August 5.