It’s not often that you get something with no strings attached, but that is the core aim of Awesome Newcastle.
A collaboration of local businesspeople, Awesome Newcastle provides a grant of $1,000 every month to help community projects in Newcastle. The grants are funded by the nine permanent board members and one guest board member which changes each month.
The first grant was awarded last week and Director of The Village of Useful and Awesome Newcastle Dean, Andy Howard, said he felt proud to take part in the evening.
“We received a wide variety of worthy applications from the artists, creators, ideas people and leaders of Newcastle, including a budding teenage swimwear designer, a pop-up music coordinator, a volunteer from an animal rescue service, a local food rescue manager and a pop up night market organiser,” Andy said.
The board members gathered at new bar The Basement to listen to the top three entrants explain how their idea would help make awesome happen in Newcastle.
Monique Maguire, who manages OzHarvest, talked about how the food rescue service delivers food to around 80 local charities that feed the disadvantaged, low-income and homeless people in the region.
Monique said the grant would be put towards funding NEST (Nutrition Education Sustenance Training), a program that teaches vulnerable people how to cook cost-effective and healthy meals at home.
Peter Bower, a local professional photographer and writer, told the board about his project, Music on the Spot, launching in collaboration with award-winning musician Bob Corbett.
Peter told the board that he wants to provide the opportunity for local artists to perform live music on location in spots around Newcastle, while also recording the performance and uploading it to YouTube to provide musicians with international reach. He explained he’d use the grant to fund audio equipment and lighting for Music on the Spot.
The third entrants and eventual winners are two childhood friends who have recently launched a podcast in which the young duo drive around the suburbs of Newcastle, recording themselves as they talk about the big issues together.
In their first month, they say they were humbled to witness the Driving with Jack and Scott podcast receive over 1,000 downloads.
“Jack and Scott said they’d use the grant money to fund their very own billboard, and their wish was granted ‚Äì Jack and Scott became the first very worthy recipients of Awesome Newcastle’s $1,000 grant,” Andy said.
“Each of the 10 board members pay the cash from their own pockets, and I can’t think of a better way to spend $100.”
“There are no strings attached and Awesome Newcastle takes nothing in return – this is about paying it forward and helping make awesome happen.”
Awesome Newcastle is a chapter of The Awesome Foundation. The Awesome Foundation was created in 2009 and has provided over $1.5m in grants via 114 chapters in 26 countries. It was founded by MIT and Harvard students frustrated with the bureaucracy of traditional funding.