March 2012 Grant – Ozone House

The Trustees of the micro-philanthropic group A2Awesome today awarded their second $1,000 grant toward the creation of awesomeness in the Ann Arbor – Ypsilanti area. The funds were handed over, in a brown paper bag, to Quinn Phillips, a representative of Ozone House, a community-based nonprofit which provides shelter and other critical services for runaway, homeless and at-risk youth. Phillips had submitted an Awesome Foundation grant application, requesting funds to build a youth fitness room in the basement of Ozone House’s central facility in Ann Arbor. The $1,000 will be used to acquire a treadmill, stationary bike, dumbbell set, yoga equipment, gym mat, heavy bag and speed bag.

“Our young clients are facing an overwhelming number of challenges,” said Phillips. “This often leads to stress, anger and depression. It is amazing to see how quickly their moods can improve when they have opportunities for physical activities that they enjoy. These are kids who could never afford to take a fitness class, or become a member of a gym. Before coming to Ozone House, they often lack access to nutritious food, and positive recreational activities. Having our own workout space is a wonderful opportunity to let youth blow off some steam in a place where they will be safe and supported. With this space, we’ll be able to bring in local trainers and experts to teach the kids exercise and self-defense techniques.”

This is the second grant to be awarded by the group. The first grant was given to Nathan Ayers, of Ann Arbor, who is presently using his award to build two bike-powered vegetable grow racks, which will be used in the K-12 science classes that he teaches in Ann Arbor and Detroit. According to Ayers, his intention is to create a closed loop system to demonstrate the principles of permaculture – a design and engineering philosophy based on ecology, which has as its objective the creation of sustainable food, energy and community infrastructure systems.

The award to Ozone House, according A2Awesome Trustee Linh Song, was chosen because, of all the ideas submitted, it offered the most payback in terms of local awesome. “I was really pleased to see the group choose Ozone House’s project,” said Song. “They’re making a direct and immediate impact on our community by helping youth in crisis feel awesome.” In addition to the cash award, three A2Awesome Trustees came forward with individual donations, and ideas as to how better to leverage the $1,000 award. Song, for instance, was able to arrange for the donation of a treadmill, allowing for the cash award to go even further.

A2 Awesome, which is composed of 13 individuals, is organized under the banner of the Boston-based Awesome Foundation. The stated purpose of the local group, according to chairwoman Lisa Dengiz is, “ to provide streamlined seed funding for creative folks and projects that bring spirit, wonder and awesomeness to our local community.” The organization intends to make one grant a month for the foreseeable future. All grants will be in the amount of $1,000.

Those with creative, inspired ideas are encouraged to apply for the grant online. Grant deadlines are on the last day of each month.

“There’s a sense that, if we’re going to solve the problems that are facing us as a community, we’re going to have to be creative, and we’re going to have to do it ourselves. A2Awesome is looking for investment opportunities where a relatively small amount of money can be leveraged to make really meaningful positive change over time,” said Mark Maynard, a trustee of the group.

Every month, chapter trustees contribute their own personal funds toward a $1,000, no-strings-attached grant to an awesome project that promises to make life better. In addition to Dengiz and Maynard, the group includes Dick Soble, Paul Saginaw, Jeff Meyers, Linh Song, Heather MacKenzie, Monique Deschaine, Hans Masing, Alice Liberson, Omari Rush, Tanya Luz and Larry Grant.

Created in 2009 in Boston, the Awesome Foundation now has chapters in over 30 cities across the globe. In addition to the new Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti chapter, there are Awesome Foundation outposts in both Detroit and Grand Rapids. Projects funded have included efforts in a wide range of areas including technology, arts, social good, and beyond.

All people with great, inspiring ideas are encouraged to submit their proposals here.

For information on Ozone House, please visit their website.

[Photo caption: A2Awesome Trustees Omari Rush, Linh Song and Hans Masing, present a bag containing $1,000 to Ozone House’s Quinn Phillips.]