Awesome Foundation Toronto

How to get $1000 for being awesome (with ideas)

The Awesome Foundation now has a Toronto chapter. Part of growing network of city-based sites, its goal is straightforward and, well, awesome: they want to give people with unique ideas $1000. Founded in 2009, the Foundation's first chapter took root in Boston, but it now boasts over 10 other cities, including New York, London, Berlin, San Francisco, and Ottawa (who somehow beat us to the punch).

What kind of ideas are deemed worthy? Well, according to the trustees who provide the funds, there's a wide range of possibilities. "As we are just getting underway, the Toronto group is open to any and all ideas. What would you do with $1000 to improve our city? Or to make it more fun? Or to prove a point? Or to solve a problem? Themes that interest us are design, urban planning, art and science. The ideal project has elements of those mixed with a legitimate and important social mission. Of course, all of this is subject to change on-the-fly for no better reason than we feel like it that day."

While Torontonians with good ideas in need of funding may yet to be able to leverage the American-based Kickstarter, the arrival of the Awesome Foundation is pretty exciting news. A look at past projects in other cities reveals that despite the relatively small sum of money being offered, some decidedly cool projects have emerged. Here's a short list of a few successful pitches that caught my eye: a huge hammock, a cotton candy canon, robotic desk lamps, a yearlong time-lapse video of the sky over San Francisco, and a "home" renovation for two Brooklyn-based Iguanas. You get the idea. Less focused on practicality than on ideas that are unique, quirky and which would otherwise be unlikely to secure a grant, the Awesome Foundation rewards off-beat ingenuity.

The best part? There are no strings attached. The Foundation doesn't make ownership claims on the projects it funds, and how the money is spent is left up to the winner. Yup, the whole thing pretty much works on the honour system. But, really, given the nature of the ideas being proposed, is it likely anyone is going to make off with the cash without putting it toward their proposal?

The Toronto chapter is currently in its first grant cycle, and will be accepting video-based submissions (in which you describe your idea) until February 15th. After that, a new batch of submissions will be accepted for review. For more information check out the "About Us," and "How it Works" pages and the Foundation's "FAQ." More information can also be found via this Toronto Star article.

Photo by LexnGer in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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