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Opening Doors for Children & Families

How Edmonton Becomes Awesome

Warning: This blog is heavily concentrated with the word 'awesome.'

Last night, something awesome happened in a trendy little coffee shop downtown Edmonton. I arrived at The Roast Coffeehouse greeted by an army of Edmonton philanthropists wearing pink shirts that read "I'M WITH AWESOME." This was my first time attending a "pitch party" and I didn't know what to expect. The atmosphere was fun and full of excitement, the coffeehouse filled with hopes to hear how people planned to make Edmonton more awesome.

The event was held by the Edmonton Awesome Foundation. The Foundation is made up of a network of "micro-trustees" who generously pool their monthly gifts to create $1,000 grants given to projects and their creators. I know what you are thinking so go ahead and shout it out, "What an AWESOME idea!" The Awesome Foundation started in Boston in 2009. There are now 59 chapters in 12 countries. To this day, Awesome Foundations have granted $354 000 worth of AWESOME.

Anyone can submit an idea under three guidelines: 1.The Idea that you submit must be legal 2.The idea must be a viable and attainable idea that you can make happen with the $1000.00 dollars. 3.This is not a loan or an investment from the awesome foundation, this is a grant (meaning they do not claim ownership to the idea or want the funds paid back.) Ideas are reviewed and individuals or groups are then chosen to attend a "pitch party" and pitch their ideas to the trustees and the public supporters who attend.

Last night we heard pitches from 4 individuals. One pitch focused on putting up chalk boards around the City of Edmonton where people could contribute to lists such as "Things I want to do before I die", or "Love is...", or "I am grateful for..." The second pitch came from a choreographer who has a dream of creating a dance inside a cave and then recreating it in an art gallery. The third pitch came from Redemptive Developments who helps individuals get back on their feet and access basic needs such as housing.

The fourth pitch came from ABC Head Start's very own Roxanne Zowtuk. Roxanne is a Social Worker at ABC Head Start and last year started a project with her parents (I blogged about it in a post called The Sandbox.) She taught the parents how to make blankets out of fleece. The parents loved the project and the outcomes were far greater than anyone could have imagined. With this new-found skill parents thought about making more for their families as Christmas and birthday gifts, teaching their friends and families how to make them and one parent even saw this as an entrepreneurial venture and could start making the blankets and selling them at craft fairs. "What an AWESOME idea!" And the Edmonton Awesome Foundation thought so too and awarded Roxanne with $1000 to keep her blanket making with parents going! It was an incredible end to an incredible evening. I highly recommend you attend a pitch party to see the awesomeness for yourself. Follow the Edmonton Awesome Foundation on Facebook by clicking here or follow their website...hope to see you there!

Also, I wanted to give a quick "shout out" to September's winner Ashley Green, whose idea Love Letters 2 Strangers is not only enduring on every level but Ashley is fantastic and you should support her initiative too!

Thank you to all of the trustees at the Edmonton Awesome Foundation, it is people like you who make Edmonton a wonderful place to live.

And last but certainly not least, congratulations Roxanne, and thank you for making ABC Head Start a little more awesome!

If you want to help Roxanne keep her project going here are the ways to do so: 1) Cheques (made payable to ABC Head Start) or cash can be sent to ABC Head Start Administration Office #103 5104 82 Ave, Edmonton, AB T6B 0E6. 2) Or click here to donate online now. Be sure in all cases that you identify your donation for the "McKee Blanket Fund".

ABC Head Start Society is a registered charity which has been committed to promoting and supporting strong children, families, and communities in Edmonton for over 30 years. We know that by giving children the best possible early learning and development opportunities in life, we ensure the future well-being and prosperity of our families and communities.