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Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation gives monthly micro-grants to help local projects

Taken in February, trustees from the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation presented Erin Falker-Obichigha of The Carr Center with a micro-grant that would subsidize registration fees for children and teen dance workshop.
Taken in February, trustees from the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation presented Erin Falker-Obichigha of The Carr Center with a micro-grant that would subsidize registration fees for children and teen dance workshop. (Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation via Facebook)

ANN ARBOR – How would a $1,000 micro-grant give your awesome project a boost?

Since 2011, the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation has been handing out “no-strings-attached” micro-grants to help fund projects in and around Washtenaw County.

A chapter of the Awesome Foundation, a Boston-based micro-philanthropic organization, Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation has given out almost 100 monthly grants of $1,000 powered by its trustees. 

Made up of 13 trustees, each trustee of the chapter provides $100 every month which is put towards the monthly grants.

“The whole concept is designed to be as low-hassle and as no-strings-attached as possible,” said Patrick Dunn, dean of the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation.  

Those interested in the grants, can fill out an application through the chapter’s website and explain why their project is awesome. The trustees select an applicant and meet with them to learn more about the project and to deliver the micro-grant. 

Our second $1,000 mini-grant this month went to 35 Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning students, faculty,...

Posted by Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation on Friday, April 24, 2020

Dunn said the chapter tries to have some cash in reserve, which it used to give out an additional grant during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Currently, the chapter gives grant monies electronically. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the $1,000 micro-grants were given as cash, which Dunn said was enjoyable for the chapter and the grantee.

“There’s just something fun about them being able to actually fan out the cash and take a picture with it,” said Dunn.

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While most grant applications in recent months have been related to the pandemic, Dunn said the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation receives applications from a broad range of projects. Some are from local entrepreneurs looking to fund a business or make a product and some are from nonprofits and community organizations. 

Recent micro-grants have been given to fund laundry services for those experiencing homelessness, help University of Michigan architecture students make personal protective equipment and to fund an outdoor concert series for senior living communities.  

“The whole idea is, basically, to trust people to do good things in their community. The idea is if you’re doing something cool, we don’t want to make it super difficult for you to get help doing that thing and making things better for your community,” said Dunn. 

Our latest $1,000 mini-grant went to Ferndale-based Affirmations to upgrade their youth drop-in center! Here we are...

Posted by Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation on Monday, January 6, 2020

Grants are generally given to projects in Washtenaw County, but the chapter has also given to projects in Detroit and Flint. The group even helped to fund a project in Brazil organized by a former Ann Arbor resident. 

 Dunn said that the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation board is always impressed by grantees and their projects but that the chapter has received fewer grant applications lately. 

“We just want people to know, especially now when there’s so much upheaval, that we’re there. And, if somebody is trying to do something awesome to help their community right now, we want to hear about it and want to consider it,” said Dunn. “We would love to make it one of the 12 grants that we give out every year, potentially.”

Find more information about previous Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation grantee projects here.


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