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Posted on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Three more A2Awesome grant recipients handed bags full of cash

By Jennifer Eberbach

Brown paper bags full of cash were handed over to 826michigan Director Amanda Uhle, Spontaneous Art group members Trevor Stone, Natalie Berry, and Chris Sandon, and photographer Bill Streety.

$1,000 grants from local micro-philanthropic group A2Awesome were inside.

$9,000 has been delivered this way since January. The 13 trustees of the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation pool their personal funds and award A2Awesome grants to area innovators, artists, educators, and others with ideas for projects. Creative folks are applying in hopes of getting their hands on one of those sweet brown paper bags.

Youth creative writing and tutoring nonprofit 826michigan has been tutoring Ypsilanti Middle School students in their after-school program for 4 years. However, the students have never taken a field trip to visit 826michigan's brick-and-mortar writing center, which is tucked behind their funky Robot Supply and Repair storefront on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor. The A2Awesome grant will fund several such field trips.

Spontaneous Art, an interactive performance art group consisting of Trevor Stone, Natalie Berry, and Chris Sandon, has plans to tour Washtenaw County. Their art happenings and audience engagement experiences have been performed all over the country including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. But they want to do more in the local area. The group has performed at local events such as FestiFools and Shadow Art Fair, but their "Washtenaw County Tour" will allow them to interact with more locals.

Photographer Bill Streety, a past president of the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, is documenting local blues and jazz music for a book that he is self-publishing on Ypsi-Arbor Unsung Musical Heroes. The plan is to distribute free copies to public school libraries in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. With his A2Awesome grant in hand, Streety's goal is to photograph and interview 50 area jazz and blues musicians for the book.

The first A2Awesome grant was awarded Nathan Ayers to build bike-powered vegetable grow racks and demonstrate them to his K-12 science students. Other projects include buying fitness equipment for Ozone House, helping Bona Sera Cafe in Ypsilanti acquire a Food Establishment License, and funding the construction of a giant geodesic dome, an interactive artwork by Syncytium. Recipients also include "Shakespeare in Prison" a drama program at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility and Roger Rayle, who applied for the grant in order to upgrade the A/V equipment he uses to record local entrepreneurial and technology events.

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti's chapter of the Awesome Foundation follows a model of micro-philanthropy first established in Boston. The world-wide Awesome Foundation has grown to 57 autonomous boards of trustees, since 2009. To date, 332 projects have been funded this way. That equates to $332,000 granted internationally.