Feature Story: Edmonton philanthropists add more “awesome” to the world one idea at a time
January 29, 2012
Edmonton philanthropists add more “awesome” to the world one idea at a time
Photo courtesy: Linda Hoang
Edmonton philanthropists gather for the Edmonton Awesome Foundation’s January “pitch party.” Each month Edmontonians are encouraged to submit their “awesome” ideas that will better the community in some way. Then one Edmontonian is awarded $1,000 to go towards funding his or her “awesome” idea. No strings attached.
Linda Hoang, Sunday, January 29 2012
EDMONTON – Pitch an awesome idea, win $1,000.
The concept is simple enough but what results from it could have a huge impact on the city.
Ten Edmontonians who share the same philanthropic ideals have come together to form the Edmonton Awesome Foundation.
The “awesome” trustees pool their money together to award someone with an “awesome” idea $1,000 each month.
“One of the questions we ask each of the applicants when they apply is how do you think your idea makes Edmonton better?” says Raj Dhillon, an Edmonton Awesome trustee.
“When you’re doing these kinds of pay it forward ideas, philanthropic ideas, they always focus on improving someone’s condition or someone’s community or someone’s city. We really want to focus on making the city more awesome.”
Applicants can pitch their ideas online and each month trustees narrow down the applicants to five finalists who are invited to the monthly “Pitch Party” where a winner is chosen.
Lucas Coffey’s idea to redesign his “People Powered Parties” took home the $1,000 prize for January.
Lucas Coffey wins $1,000 at the Edmonton Awesome January Pitch Party. Photo courtesy: Linda Hoang
People Powered Parties are events powered by people pedalling on bikes connected to generators that create electricity for that specific event.
The grant money will be used to redesign Coffey’s bikes, making them more comfortable for riders and thereby increasing the amount of time people spend pedalling and increasing the amount of renewable energy the bikes create.
“This is our huge project of 2012,” Coffey says.
“We can now launch it right away.”
Coffey’s idea was chosen because the foundation believed it was innovative and could make a big, “green” impact on the city.
Previous winners’ ideas have also helped the community in some way.
November winner Jason Norman is using his $1,000 to expand on his Words with Friends project. Words with Friends brings Edmontonians together for a night centred around performances of song, poetry, comedy and storytelling. Norman and Words with Friends co-creator Kasia Gawlak will use the grant to help launch free arts-related workshops for anyone to attend and he also plans to take Words with Friends on the road to do open mic nights at different locations.
A performance at Words with Friends 3. Photo courtesy: yegwords (yegwords.wordpress.com).
“If I didn’t get the money I wouldn’t have started even the planning process that I have now,” Norman says. “I think it would have taken way, way longer.”
October winner Darcia Parada used her money to fund the 104 Underground Operascape, an opera performance inside the Bay LRT station.
The crowd at 104 Underground Operascape. Photo courtesy: Mack Male (mastermaq.ca)
“I think the nature of the idea is what captivated them because it’s unique,” Parada says, adding that the operascape exposed Edmontonians to a different part of the city. “Some people had never even been in an LRT,” she said. “It really did liven up downtown.”
Other finalists don’t walk away empty-handed either. Often a finalist who doesn’t win the $1,000 prize still receives help or support in some way from an Awesome Foundation trustee or even just pitch party attendees who feel passionately about the idea as well.
“Feature Story” is a section of this website where Linda (that’s me!) tells stories about interesting Edmontonians and interesting happenings in Edmonton, because that’s what she loves to do! If you’ve got a story idea you think she should turn into a story, or have questions or comments, click here to email Linda!!
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Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other cities she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival…