Teresa Mathew
July 16, 2015 3:10 pm

A film festival for .gifs. A dance troupe for people with disabilities. A popup cardboard arcade.

All done in the name of awesome.

“Forwarding the interest of awesome” might seem like a pretty lofty goal (or a lesser known Lego Movie song). But for this organization, that’s exactly the aim. The Awesome Foundation, which was created in 2009, makes it its mission to fund projects all over the world that are, by definition, “awesome.” What does that mean? The foundation shies away from defining the word, saying that “each chapter interprets ‘awesome’ for itself.” Here are some notable grants the Awesome Foundation has given out.

In Miami, a grant was given for a “laughter yoga” workshop. A project to develop low-cost fuel from wood charcoal waste was funded in Lusaka, Zambia. The “World’s First Ever” Gay Wax Museum! was created in Austin, TX to showcase art depicting moments in queer history. And in July the Ottawa chapter of the Awesome Foundation awarded their grant to a live-action recreation of Cassius Coolidge’s famous paintings of dogs playing poker.

The foundation currently has 76 chapters and spans 17 continents. Each chapter is in charge of supporting projects of their choice through monthly micro-grants of roughly $1,000. Typically, chapters are comprised of 10 members who donate $100 each towards each month’s grant. The grants are given more as gifts, not loans, with no repayment expected.

“There’s value in modesty, in pursuing something specific rather than the silly money, the play money, the Monopoly money of start-up culture,” Isabella Scott, a 27-year-old whose Awesome grant enabled her to grow a dye garden, told the New York Times this week. “It’s nice to deal with humans instead of bureaucracy. They understand that there have to be ways to access coolness without being a nonprofit or a start-up.”

Anyone, either as an individual or as a group, is eligible for a grant. There really seem to be no restrictions—on the foundation’s website, the only note noted criteria is, “If you can fill out the application form, you can apply.”

We live in a world where the most lucrative idea is what gets the most attention—and the most funding. The Awesome Foundation is an incredible (if quirky) remedy to that. So if you’ve ever wanted to create a substance-free silent disco or gluten-free dessert truck or library for children in the developing world, you don’t have to spend all of your time worrying about the bottom line.

Dare to be awesome—there’s a grant for that.

(Image via iStock)

Related:

9 amazing women behind the MacArthur genius grants

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