Awesome Newcastle reaches milestone of awarding $85,000 in self-funded cash grants

Awesome Newcastle reaches milestone of awarding $85,000 in self-funded cash grants

Awesome Newcastle, a local chapter of the global grantmaking organisation Awesome Foundation, has announced it has surpassed $85,000 in no-obligation cash grants awarded to grassroots ventures in the Newcastle region.

Established in the Hunter in 2015, the Awesome Newcastle chapter hosts a monthly pitch night where three applicants have three minutes to present their idea.

The board then deliberates with the ultimate winner awarded $1,000, which is personally funded by local business people committed to seeing others thrive with their novel ideas.

Foundation Board Member, Andy Howard said Awesome Newcastle’s mission is to support grassroots initiatives that have a positive impact on the local community.

“We’re super proud of reaching this funding milestone and the awesome initiatives we’ve supported over the past nine years,” Andy said.

“We know $1,000 isn’t a huge amount of money, but it often starts the momentum finalists are looking for. We’ve been told by past winners that it’s the belief in their idea that has meant the most. That’s a really awesome outcome.”

Previous grant winners have gone on to establish successful businesses including Newy Rides, Newcastle Afoot, OneWave, Feedback Organic, Secret Book Stuff, Surfing the Spectrum, Soul Cafe, Splash of Colour, Frontline Yoga, Survival Candles, Kid Biz Academy, Hunter Homeless Connect and Urban Botanica.

2022 Awesome Newcastle Winner & Splash of Colour representative Ennia Jones said the grant was life changing and meant they could provide more opportunities for people to swim, which in Australia is seen as a fundamental life skill.

“Last year we helped 65 women learn to swim and this term alone we’ve got 75 and next term we’re looking at 110,” Ennia said.

“We’re branching out to the Central Coast as well. We’ve trialled our first men’s swim program; that started in March. All our students are from multicultural backgrounds with 8 or 9 different countries represented on average.  

“Winning the one $1,000 cash spurred me on. I could see that the board members really believed in me. I said to the gentleman who passed me the money, ‘I won’t let you down.’ and I meant it. It’s people’s hard earned money they’re handing you. It’s completely changed my outlook on people’s generosity.”

Urban Botanica recipient, Monty Sharm said the grant helped to boost their participant numbers and increase the amount of courses on offer.

“Since I started Urban Botanica Co in 2018, we’ve gone from only having 30-40 workshop participants in the first year, to now having over 315 people attending, that includes private tours with Steiner students,” Monty said.

“Since we won Awesome Newcastle, we also have run mycology courses for kids growing mushrooms in jars.”

The environmental education business does everything from leading mushroom hunts in the forest to building moss walls for local businesses. Sharma won the $1,000 in November 2021.

“I think Awesome Newcastle was really good from the perspective of the board, who are all entrepreneurial and community-based,” Monty said.

“That pitch was my second pitch, the first time I pitched and didn’t win. When I came back the second time I had more clarity around what I wanted to do and what I wanted to create. The money helped, but the greatest value I found from Awesome Newcastle was sitting down with my journal and asking myself ‘what are the things I need to do?’ It’s a shark tank, you gotta know your stuff and you only have a limited amount of time!” 

Awesome Newcastle is always looking for new applicants to put forward their ideas. More information can be found on their website.

IMAGE | Awesome Newcastle 2022 Winner, Splash of Colour, Ennia Jones.

Awesome Newcastle

Awesome Newcastle provides no-strings-attached cash grants to individuals and organisations in the Newcastle region. Applications are open 24/7/365.

From February to November, three finalists are selected to present to the board at a ‘shark tank’ style pitch night on the first Wednesday of each month. Winners are determined by board member votes and the cash awarded to the winner – no strings attached.

The Newcastle chapter consists of seven full-time board members and three monthly guest board members. Anyone is welcome to apply to pitch their ideas by heading to the Awesome Newcastle website.

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