Awesome in Alaska: How the Awesome Foundation’s Alaska Chapter Gives Locally

PHOTO: JACOB LUND/SHUTTERSTOCK

PHOTO: JACOB LUND/SHUTTERSTOCK

One of the most interesting philanthropic vehicles that we’ve come across lately is the Awesome Foundation, a collection of fully autonomous chapters around the world that specialize in microgrants. This foundation originated in Boston and has been on the grantmaking scene for a decade now. One of its local chapters is in Alaska, playing an important role in a place where funders are few and far between.

Here’s what Alaska grantseekers should know about the Awesome Foundation and the best way to secure a grant from its local chapter.

Experimental Ideas Get Funded

Unlike a traditional grantmaker, the Awesome Foundation does not have an established list of priorities, such as education, health, or human services. Instead, this is a funder that looks for new, exciting, and innovative ideas—the types of ideas that would likely not even be considered by a traditional foundation.

In the past, many Awesome grants in Alaska have gone towards the arts, technology, and community development. But what the foundation is really looking for is experimental ideas. Choose something surprising, challenging, and inspiring for your pitch. Past support has gone to pop-up performances in downtown Anchorage, Native art classes, and a campaign to educate the community about pollinators in the environment.

All Grants are $1,000

Regardless of the project, all Awesome Foundation grants are $1,000 each. Therefore, applicants need to explain to the foundation in their applications how $1,000 is really going to make a difference in what they are trying to do.

Other things to highlight include details about what makes your project unique and how it will impact an Alaskan community as well as you as an individual. The foundation’s grants have no strings attached and never have to be repaid. In addition to nonprofits, individuals and groups of other kinds can also apply for $1,000 monthly grants.

Money Comes from Local Trustees

Based upon the general Awesome Foundation model, trustees contribute about $100 each towards a monthly grant. Many chapters have 10 trustees, but the Alaska chapter currently lists 16 names, so there are even more trustees sharing the load here. Chapters operate independently of each other and practically none of them are formally registered as organizations. You can see a list of Alaska trustees and learn a bit about their hobbies and interests on the Alaska page.

Unsolicited Requests are Welcome

Fortunately for groups located throughout Alaska, the Awesome Foundation accepts unsolicited funding requests all year. Submit your proposal online by the 15th of any month to be considered. The trustees make their decisions by the end of the month. Unsuccessful proposals are deleted and not carried over to the next month. Time-sensitive requests should be submitted at least 60 days in advance of when funds are needed.

Overall, this is a very accessible and approachable foundation that stays very local with its funding and is responsive by email. The grants are small but are important because they go towards things that often get overlooked by the rest of the philanthropic sector. For that reason, the Awesome Foundation should be on every Alaska nonprofit’s radar for special projects and unconventional ideas. For additional details, check out IP’s full profile of the Awesome Foundation (Alaska Chapter) in our Northwest funding guide.