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As you may have seen around town the first annual WeWork Creator Awards are in full kick off swing here in DC.  The company is granting over $20 million to entrepreneurs, small businesses, growing companies, non-profits, artists and more. Anyone in the Washington D.C. metro area can apply online to win (and yes, both WeWork members and non-members eligible to enter & WeWork will sponsor the cost of the “We Membership” for 1 year for anyone who applies).

We caught up with Dave McLaughlin, WeWork GM for Eastern US and Canada to chat about the why’s and the how’s of the contest, in order to give YOU a better handle on how to approach your application as you prep feverishly to meet the Monday 3/20 at midnight deadline. For even more info, check out WeWork CEO Adam Neumann’s statement here.

What prompted WeWork to do this?

We want to honor and empower creators, and we believe that actions speak louder than words.  WeWork is introducing the Creator Awards to give back to the communities we serve and to give all creators the recognition they deserve. Anyone who brings new ideas to the world, whether they are an artist, freelancer, nonprofit, small business or other entrepreneur, is a creator.

How does this fit into the evolution of the co-working space as a business?

It’s all about bringing communities together.  The growth of our platform, our global member network and co-working at large reflect a major change in the way we work. The way we recognize work must also change.

The Creator Awards seek to honor and empower those who brings a new idea into the world, pursues their passion, and believes in something greater than oneself. Our vision for Creator Awards is bold and this is only the beginning. Just as the movement towards meaning keeps growing, so too will the Creator Awards grow. We plan to scale to include even more locations and more creators in 2018 and beyond.

Why should people apply?

The opportunity for rewards and recognition can change creator’s lives.  We’ve opened up applications to anyone and everyone – across all industries and stages of growth – because we believe creators leading the way should be recognized.  Further, the Creator Awards are a grant program. WeWork is not taking any ownership of products or services our applicants develop nor are we taking any equity in companies.

What are some of the things the judges are looking for? On all three application levels?

Judges will evaluate on criteria including: creativity, capability, impact.

What makes the DC community different than some of the other ones that may apply?

Our DC community is thriving and a very unique community.  We currently have more than 4,500 members, 8 buildings and we’ve had 4x growth in one year.  Most importantly, we want to recognize that great ideas and great work are happening everywhere and in all industries – and our DC community exemplifies exactly that.

Anything else fun he’d like to share?

In addition to the financial awards, The Creator Awards include an event at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on 3/28 with programs and pitches during the day, and a ceremony and celebration at night – both open the public.

The daytime event, Community Connect @ The Creator Awards, will be an open, interactive forum with opportunities to connect, learn or improve upon a skill through a Master Class, find employment through a Job Fair, shop local goods at a Pop-up Market, offer or acquire services and more. The event will also include pitches from finalists to judges, which will be broadcast on Facebook Live.

The evening event, The Creator Awards Ceremony + Celebration, will be an announcement of the winners selected from that day’s finalists followed by a party with live music, entertainment and celebration. The public can attend any portion of the day or night, just RSVP.