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Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

A2Awesome: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti leaders to distribute $1,000 grants to creative community projects

By Nathan Bomey

Twelve local leaders have collaborated to create an Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti chapter of a "micro-philanthropic" group affiliated with the Boston-based Awesome Foundation.

The nonprofit, calling itself A2Awesome, plans to distribute one $1,000 grant every month to "creative projects that will be bring surprise, delight and joy to the community," A2Awesome chairwoman Lisa Dengiz said in a statement.

The group said it draws financial support from the "personal funds" of its members: Dengiz, Zingerman's co-founder Paul Saginaw, Jeff Meyers, Dick Soble, Linh Song, Heather MacKenzie, Monique Deschaine, Hans Masing, Alice Liberson, Omari Rush and Tanya Luz.

Local blogger Mark Maynard, a trustee for the project, said in an email that A2Awesome would likely favor requests from applicants who are "creatively leveraging these funds to do even more." The grants will be available to projects throughout Washtenaw County — and the group members, including Maynard, will vote on the winners.

"It's hard to say, as we're just getting off the ground, but my sense is that we'd prefer projects where there's some possibility of jump-starting something even bigger," Maynard said. "In other words, we'd like to be the ones providing seed capital where there's potential for big things to happen."

Maynard said the group's not necessarily seeking new members, although he anticipates that other chapters of the Awesome Foundation could be launched in Washtenaw County as momentum builds.

Detroit and Grand Rapids are among a group of more than 20 cities that have active chapters of the Awesome Foundation, which was formed in 2009.

Interested applicants can submit ideas here.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

I think the winners for the current month would be the Ann Arbor City Council for surprising us with the cross walk laws. It generates revenue for the city by the tickets issued, create unexpected surprises while driving on Plymouth Road and really has gotten the whole community involved. Thanks AA City Council!


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

Sounds like investment banking? Start / fund a community project. Expect more failures; but expect those that work to exceed the losses. Certainly is a positive approach to the new 'Idea' economy we have going today. Pretty cool. "If I only had... . I could... ." Here a chance.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 4:29 a.m.

This is fantastic news! I am excited about the possibilities.

J Shaker

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 12:20 a.m.

Yes! I happen to be a real big fan of surprise, delight and joy. Looking forward to what comes our way.