On the weekend of September 4, Ypsilanti will be celebrating its third annual Festival of the Honey Bee, thanks in part to a grant by the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation. The $1,000 award was given earlier this summer to event founder Jamie Berlin, who will be using the funds not only to grow the collaborative, multi-faceted, city-wide festival, but to produce goods which can be sold during the event, thereby making future festivals more of a possibility. “This grant,” according to Berlin, “will set us on a path to financial independence.” If you would like to know more about the importance of honey bees, how the festival came about, or what you might encounter should you attend this year’s event, check out the recent interview between Mark Maynard, the dean of the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation, and Jamie Berlin.
In March, 2015, the trustees of the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation awarded a $1,000 grant to Melissa Stek, a Masters of Social Work student at the University of Michigan. Stek received the award on behalf of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights teen group with which she works. The money will fund a public mural, outside Ypsilanti’s Dos Hermanos market, on the subject of immigration.
An interview with Stek on the origins of the project, the timeline for completion, and the awesome young men and women behind the initiative, can be found here.
[If you have an awesome idea as to how you could make our community better with a $1,000 grant, apply to the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation.]
We met this morning and awarded our third grant, in the amount of $1,000, to the incredible women behind the Bona Sera Supper Club… Here’s our press release:
The Trustees of the micro-philanthropic group A2Awesome today awarded their third $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 a representative of the Bona Sera Supper Club, an underground organization that has, over the past three years, raised over $20,000 for area nonprofits, by hosting clandestine dinner parties in secret locations across Southeast Michigan. The money will allow the organization to acquire a Food Establishment License, and move forward with plans to open a 50-seat cafe in Ypsilanti’s historic Kresge Building, and the intersection of Michigan Avenue and North Washington Street.
This new, “above ground,” for-profit cafe, according to Bona Sera’s founders, who call themselves Bad Fairy and Wonder Woman, will not only create jobs in Ypsilanti, and draw more people downtown, but allow the organization to continue its charitable work as well. “We have grown the underground side of our business to the point where we really needed to start operating out of a licensed, commercial kitchen, and this will allow us to do that,” said Bad Fairy. “The kitchen of the new Bona Sera Cafe will also be available to other local food industry start-ups for affordable rates,” said Bad Fairy, “as a way of encouraging and supporting other entrepreneurs.”
According to A2Awesome Board Member, Monique Deschaine, Bona Sera was chosen as this month’s recipient, because “It’s the type of endeavor that blends everything The Awesome Foundation appreciates—creative, talented people doing something unique that benefits our local community and has potential for growth. Awesomely delicious!”
This is the third grant to be awarded by A2Awesome. 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 second grant was awarded to Ozone House, for the creation of an in-house gym facility for the at-risk youth with whom they work.
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.
“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.
[Photo caption: A2Awesome Trustees Heather MacKenzie, Monique Deschaine, Larry Gant and Mark Maynard, present a bag containing $1,000 to Bona Sera's secretive founders, Bad Fairy and Wonder Woman.]
All people with great, inspiring ideas are encouraged to submit their proposals here.