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22:51

Awesome Foundation Seattle Community Meeting

On Thursday, June 30, 20+ Seattle residents came out for the first local Awesome Foundation community meeting. On behalf of my co-organizer, Tommer Peterson and myself, a big thanks for those who joined us.

We met coders, artists, activists, co-working enthusiasts, and at least one roboticist – a truly awesome mix.  Lots of people couldn’t attend, but wanted to get involved, so here’s our follow up post, as promised.

Read on for:

  • A quick overview of the meeting
  • Information about next steps
  • Notes from the Q&A session

If you already know for sure that you want to get involved and weren’t at the meeting, head over to our Awesome Foundation Commitment Form.  If you are new to Awesome Foundation Seattle, you can read our initial invitation post and my personal note about why I’m psyched to get AF Sea started.

Our Proposal

Tommer welcomes participants

After a getting-to-know you warmup, Tommer introduced the basic Awesome Foundation concept – 10 people (aka “Trustees”) giving $100 and collectively sharing a $1000 grant to the most awesome proposal each month. Awesome Foundation chapters are sprouting all over the world, and Seattle will probably be the 20th chapter.

I talked about a vision for community engagement beyond the basic giving model.  Once we get good at making grants, I’d love to discuss an awesome group blog for Seattle, highlighting everything that makes the city great and helping to identify potential grant applicants.  Maybe we could have awesome volunteer days or give a larger, special grant once a year.

There’s a lot of potential, and our direction will be determined collectively by those who get involved early.

To build that broader engagement, we want to shake up the basic model a bit.  Tommer and I proposed 4 basic participation levels:

  1. Full-time Trustees: people who can make the $100/mo commitment for the first consecutive 6 months. This group will form the foundation of the foundation, make the first critical decisions about how the chapter will operate, and review grant applications each month.
  2. Guest Trustees: for folks who want to participate at a lower financial level.  Guest Trustees join the full-time Trustees for at least 1 month (or more) out of the first 6 and review grant applications in those months when they are making a contribution.
  3. Friends of Awesome: aka “Volunteers!” A number of folks have expressed support of the Awesome Foundation idea, but are not able to participate financially. We do need volunteers in several capacities. Let us know if you would like to help design, build and manage our local WordPress blog; organize events; and/or support our efforts to publicize grant opportunities
  4. Grant Applicants: The all-important piece of the puzzle.  We’ll always be looking for fresh, exciting proposals.

Next steps

A mingling of awesome

After the post-meeting mingle, everyone filled out a form indicating their level of commitment. What’s next?

Step 1) If you missed the meeting and want to get involved, it’s very important that you fill out the online Awesome Foundation Commitment Form.  Please fill it out by Monday, June 11.

Step 2) Tommer and I will take all of the input from the paper and online forms and do our best to put together a great mix of full-time and guest Trustees.  We’ll send invitations to join that firs group and take final confirmations.

Step 3) Within a couple of weeks, we’ll announce our first group of Trustees and a calendar for future guest Trustees.

Step 4) Trustees will convene to decide and announce our grant-making calendar.

Step 5) The awesome commences – taking applications and making grants by the end of the summer.

Q&A

Participants had lots of questions.  Tommer and I want to make sure everyone understands that we don’t hold all the answers.  Instead, we’ll be looking to our fellow Trustees and Friends of Awesome to guide the way as we get started in Seattle.

Q: What’s the mission statement of Awesome Foundation? What kind of work are you looking to fund?

A: Unlike most initiatives, AF doesn’t have a tight focus on any particular area of work.  Grants from other chapters have focused on the arts, technology, and fun community engagement.  In fact, there’s a new international chapter focused on Food.  The mission of Awesome Foundation Seattle will be as broad and deep as our the imaginations of our Trustees, Friends and Applicants allow.  You can read the shared mission statement here and scan grants that have been given in other cities on the shared blog.

Q: What’s the decision-making process – quorum? majority of trustees? does it need to be unanimous?

A: Every chapter is free to choose its own process.  There is a draft Trustee manual that lays out decision models from several cities, and the first Seattle Trustees will have to decide how to decide.

Q: Would grant applicants be encouraged to reapply?

A: Yes!  Based on the experience of other chapters, we will want to stay in touch with applicants who don’t receive a grant in any given month and encourage them to keep old and new proposals flowing.

Q: Will there be parties?

A: Absolutely!  As often as we can, we’ll want to celebrate our grantees and invite more people to meet and mix with us to keep the awesome growing.

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