Innovation: Talking with Awesome Ottawa

One of the most exciting usages for Twitter is finding new links, businesses and ventures happening all around us.  When I happened to stumble on the Awesome Ottawa tweets I was immediately intrigued. 

The premise:  If you have an awesome idea and need some money to get it going, Awesome Ottawa, and it’s board of Trustees, will provide you with $1000. 

What kind of projects are getting funded? Some really interesting and unique ones.  April’s grant recipient will be turning old phone books into edible mushrooms.  Read more about the project here.

I was lucky enough for Awesome Ottawa to answer a few questions for me.  Take a read and think about what innovative ideas you may have.  Be sure to check out their application page for information on how you can become a grant recipient (and pssst: the interview below gives you some detailed tips on helping get your project funded!)

When did Awesome Ottawa begin Granting?

The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences was founded in Boston in June 2009 and has now spread to 20 cities.  The Ottawa Chapter (Awesome Ottawa), founded in April 2010, awards $1,000 grants monthly to projects that advance the interest of Awesomeness in our universe and in particular in our city. There are no requirements for applying, no definite criteria for deciding the winner, and no limitations beyond the necessity for being awesome. Awesome Ottawa awarded its first grant in May of 2010 to Project Y for an Art Flash Mob. Most applicants submit a written proposal but Project Y sent this video:
How does the program work?

The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences is an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe.
The Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is given upfront in cash. The Foundation provides these grants with no strings attached and claims no ownership over the projects it supports. It is, in the words of one of our trustees, a micro-genius grant for flashes of micro-brilliance.

Who can apply?

The Awesome Foundation is open to all people and organizations. There are no prerequisites to apply (beyond, of course, being awesome).
What are some examples of past projects funded?

Projects have included efforts in a wide range of areas including technology, arts, social good, and beyond.
Ottawa has funded an Art Flash Mob, a photography exhibit of 100 strangers (, environmental projects like “transplant”: the creation of a living sculpture, a vuvuzela musical appearance, a 10/10/10 global party, experiments for school children, a murder mystery dinner party, among others.
If someone applies one month and isn’t accepted, should they continue to apply in future months?
Yes! Never ever give up! If you have wonderful ideas that will impact our community in a positive way then keep submitting applications for these ideas.
My recommendation is that the applications be specific about their goals and explain how these objectives will be reached with $1,000.
Who are the ‘trustees’? What is there role?
There are 10 trustees who agree to participate in the selection of the grant winner and give $100 of their own money to support it each month.
The list of trustees and their contact information can be found here:

**Sense and Community note: Interested in becoming a trustee? They are looking for a new one!
What do you hope to see for Awesome Ottawa in the next year? In a few years?

I hope to see much more brainstorming of ideas in the years to come. The more applications Awesome Ottawa receives, the better.  Lets get people talking, thinking and getting creative! Our whole city will benefit from the enthusiasm and power that comes from innovative and creative thinking. I hope Awesome Ottawa continues to inspire people in our community to come up with original projects and support awesome ideas.

Anything additional to add? Or tips to help those considering applying?
While the Awesome Foundation keeps an open mind about projects, we’ve found that there’s generally a few types of submissions that chapters have been less willing to fund. However, these are just guidelines–if you think we’d be interested in your awesome project even if it flirts with one of these types, there’s no penalty for submitting anyway!
–Purchases for personal use: we think you’re really awesome, but we’re probably not going to just give you $1000 for a car/vacation/rent payment/pony…unless it’s the crucial component of a bigger project that also benefits others!
–Maintenance fees for established charities and foundations: While we may support the goals of your established organization, we’re primarily interested in funding projects or new ventures and not the continuation of an existing organization. If your organization/foundation/charity still wants to apply, think of a specific, creative ~$1000 project that our money could go directly towards!
–Vague causes and applications: That is to say, the more specific you are in your application about what you’ll use the money for and why, the more likely we are to fund it!


Thank you Awesome Ottawa for being, well, awesome in our community.

Get your thinking caps on readers and become awesome too!

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One Response to “Innovation: Talking with Awesome Ottawa”

  1. Alicia says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

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