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By Amy Morse

A creative group of misfit disruptive social enablers wants to fund your most random idea to make cool shit happen—they will literally give you $1,000 in a paper bag—no strings attached. Building a giant community hammock? Punk rock band science experiments?  Mocking congressional floor charts on Tumblr? Recreate the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom boulder scene off U Street? No problem. If you have a weird, creative idea to make something cool, random, or wonderful happen in your community, consider answering 4 easy questions from the Awesome Foundation D.C. for a $1,000 grant.

The D.C. chapter is just one of many autonomous city groups that have advanced global awesomeness since its original founding in Boston in 2009 by Tim Hwang, a cool-shit-idea generator and Harvard graduate. It has since founded The Institute on Higher Awesome Studies, inspired the creation of over 86 Awesome Foundation chapters in 19 countries, and convened global gatherings (Awesome Summits) to discuss global issues and innovations in grant making – all grounded in silliness, community and the general promotion of economically irrational human joy.  Christina Xu, Chancellor of the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies, refers to the Awesome Foundation as, “the MacArthur for micro-flashes of brilliance.”

D.C.’s chapter was originally founded in 2011 by Bonnie Shaw, and since then has raised more than $48,000 in grants for D.C. technology, arts, and community cohesion. Alex Dickinson and Will Sullivan currently lead the D.C. chapter comprised of a dozen Trustees whom — by day work as tech consultants, designers, education and healthcare innovators, marketing gurus, venture capitalists, artists, poets, and yogis — and by night personally put their money and energy where their mouth is, making D.C. more Awesome.

Maker maven Phyllis Klein received the inaugural Awesome Foundation grant for her mobile Fab Lab unit that roved 14th street with maker tools to enable anyone to walk in and use their creative energy to make something. Laurenellen McCann’s  Indiana Jones boulder received international media attention – putting D.C. on the map for our homegrown awesome ideas.


This BYT series will feature several of D.C.’s awesome grantees, and their amazing projects. These grantees are all folks that inspire, connect, and see the art of the possible.

Want to learn more?

*Each month Awesome Trustees each give $100 out of their own pocket – foregoing the equivalent of 2 date nights, approximately 30 Metro rides, 9 Sweetgreen salads or 100 ice cream sandwiches – to give away, no-strings-attached to advance awesomeness.