PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s not a big-name foundation, but a group called Awesome Pittsburgh is handing out small grants every month to local people with awesome ideas.
It started in Boston but quickly spread to Pittsburgh, says Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Pete Maher.
“What if we pooled together a group of people passionate about bringing great things to the region, and those people could pool together their money and, once a month, give micro-grants of $1,000 to people and organizations that have great ideas for moving the region forward?” Maher said.
Awesome Pittsburgh invites donors to become trustees by donating $100 a month for 12 months.
So far, Awesome Pittsburgh has awarded 49 grants, including one to Monica Garrison who founded a group called “Black Girls Do Bike.”
“The $1,000 was great to help defer the costs to our members to participate in our events, so, for example, we did a family night at the Wheel Mill,” Garrison told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Garrison said the grant helped her promote the need for more African American girls and women to bike.
Delano: “So you got $1,000 because you had an awesome idea?”
Garrison: “That’s right. Just a simple idea.”
Kevin Heenan had a simple idea, too, sell ice cream on the river or docked at the river’s edge from a boat.
“This is the boat,” said Heenan of Sugar & Spice Ice Cream. “This is an old 1988 houseboat that I converted into an ice cream boat.”
His idea got a thousand bucks, too, from Awesome Pittsburgh.
“I’d never heard of them before, but it’s a great thing,” Heenan said.
Heenan says it’s easy for anyone to apply for the grant.
“All online, yeah. I did it right on my phone,” he says
With approval from the Health Department, he hopes to be selling ice cream very soon.
Tamara Whiting’s idea, to give free feminine care products to poor and homeless women, got a grant for her new group, Sister Friend.
“A thousand dollars may not seem like a lot, but for a new organization just getting off the ground, $1,000 makes the world of difference,” notes Whiting.
And that’s awesome, says Awesome Pittsburgh.