250 (Awesome) Grants and Counting!

Ruth Ann Writes

Dispatches from our co-founder

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What could be more awesome than giving a no-strings-attached gift of $1000 to somebody who’s up to something, well, AWESOME? Doing it 250 times, that’s what! Our Awesome Without Borders program celebrates a BIG milestone this month: Grant #250! In other words, we’ve invested a quarter of a million dollars in forwarding awesomeness in the world.

People sometimes ask me which are the most awesome, or my personal favorites. My answer is: All Of Them. Really, all of them are Officially Awesome, always a unanimous decision of the AWB trustees.

Plus, they become part of the AWB/Harnisch Foundation family, and we’re as proud of them as if they were our blood kin. Like Jordan Reeves, the awesome young inventor of the glitter-shooting prosthetic arm, and her mom, Jen Lee Reeves. And Maggie Doyne, who created an extended family of women and children in Nepal where she is their mother figure and teacher, a sister and a friend. To us, she’s a hero. Also to CNN, which named her their 2015 Hero Of The Year.

For exponential awesomeness, we’ve got a long list of TED Fellows (awesome) and their AWB-honored projects (awesome squared). Jae Rhim Lee’s eco-friendly Infinity Burial solution is how I plan to return my body to the earth, an awesome option Stephen Colbert called the Mushroom Death Suit when he featured it on his show. Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist Vijay Gupta created the Street Symphony, providing free classical concerts to ease the troubled minds of homeless and mentally ill people. Camille Seaman’s photos. Jane Chen, saving babies, so many more, each one my favorite!

I’m partial to the awesome act of bravely facing uncomfortable truth, which is why AWB was among the first to support Modern Loss, The Dinner Party, and others grantees who help people cope with grief and loss.

Obviously, I’m in the tank for anything that speaks to the underrepresentation of women. Perfect example: You almost never see statues of real women honoring their contributions to public life. If you subtract Joan of Arc, aka “Joanie On Her Pony,” a city’s count can go to zero. So it’s exciting to contribute to the creation of several monuments celebrating feminist figures, like the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument, the “Miss Sue” monument in Jackson, TN and the soon-to-be Anthony-Stanton statue in NYC’s Central Park.

Women are also missing in tiny sculpture, aka action figures! We knew the IAmElemental characters were awesome before they were finalists for new Toy of the Year. Maybe they’ll have their own action movie one day. And despite the success of director Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman, women are dramatically underrepresented in Hollywood both in front of and behind the camera. Maybe more female filmmakers will get a break with help from AWB grantee The Director List.

See why I can’t pick a favorite, or even my top five (or ten)? And Awesome Without Borders is just one of The Awesome Foundation’s 86 chapters in 18 countries, all pitching in to redefine philanthropy and make it accessible to everyone. Want to join the fun and tap into your power to forward awesomeness in the world? Share this tweet or Facebook post to tell your friends about this free money opp, and do apply with your own awesome idea. When we reach the next milestone, you can be our favorite!