Free funds for local projects

Awesome Kingston will award groups with $1,000 to encourage community involvement

Ryan Fraser, Sci ’89, founded the Awesome Kingston chapter in October.
Ryan Fraser, Sci ’89, founded the Awesome Kingston chapter in October.

Ten strangers give $100 each to a different community-based project each month. It’s the premise of a new foundation in Kingston.

Awesome Kingston is a chapter of the Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences. The foundation started in Boston in 2009 when 10 trustees came together to give $1,000 of personal funds to a community project. Now the foundation has more than 20 branches around the world.

Jeff Cho, a part-time Queen’s student, became the second trustee of Awesome Kingston.

Cho said Awesome Kingston looks for trustees who will enjoy making a monthly donation.

“It’s not going to be breaking the bank, but it’s also not going to be easy to give away,” he said. “This is something that we believe in, something we want to give

back to.” Contributions aren’t tax-deductible.

Cho said the foundation is looking for its tenth and final member.

Projects that have won grants from the Awesome Foundation in the past include a documentary about San Francisco’s libraries and a workout soundtrack in Sydney, Australia.

The Awesome Foundation doesn’t give grants to maintain existing projects and the foundation’s members aren’t eligible to apply.

“Community involvement is a big thing for us,” Cho said of choosing the projects.

Many chapters, including Kingston, have a public forum where grant applicants give a 90-second pitch and then respond to questions.

Ryan Fraser, a geologist for a major gas and oil company, founded Awesome Kingston in October after moving from Calgary. He said he was looking for a way to become involved in the community.

Fraser, Sci ’89, estimates the Kingston chapter will have 20 to 30 applicants by the Nov. 9 deadline and they will choose five to 10 applicants to present on the Nov. 17 pitch night at the Merchant Tap House, where the winner will be chosen.

Fraser said there are no repercussions if a group fails to complete a project.

“We recognize it’s a grant. We’re giving it to people in good faith and we’re confident that the right people will apply and use the money towards the project they’re working for.”

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