Cheat Sheet

1 Mar

We’ve all had some awesome meals and amazing conversations, an awesome trip to the Guardian Building or Belle Isle or the DIA. So we know something about awesome, but not all that much about the new Awesome News Taskforce.

Here’s your cheat sheet, answers to some FAQs, courtesy of Marshalle Montgomery, dean of this new micro-grant program for journalistic and news endeavors in metro Detroit.

Marshalle  has worked to bring together diverse communities in Metro-Detroit for over a decade and considers it to be her passion and life’s work. “I believe in using my time, talent, resources and energy to create a positive change in the world around us.”

1. What’s the purpose of the Awesome News Taskforce? What impact do you hope to have?
The idea of the Awesome News Taskforce is to experiment with a new funding model that brings together 20 community leaders  in Detroit to provide $1,000 microgrants for innovative journalism and civic media projects. We hope to provide a platform for people who have a great idea and are using nontraditional media sources to tell a story. We hope the impact will cause a ripple effect for greater civic engagement in metro Detroit.

2. Why focus on news in Detroit?
Detroit has ‘especially’ received world-wide attention over the last few years because of our economic and social challenges. So much so, that in 2009, Time Magazine relocated journalists and assigned them to cover stories about Detroit on a full-time basis. Detroiters can be very opinionated and even protective when it comes to how our story gets told; especially if there’s a sense that Detroit is being misrepresented or overly stereotyped. There are stories out there about Detroit that everyday citizens know that need to be told. This is an opportunity  to tell stories from an inside point of view and use a non-traditional style of media to report them.

3 . Who are the brains behind this? 
In July of 2009, Tim Hwang started the Awesome Foundation in Boston. Christina Xu  is the Chancellor of the Institute for Higher Awesome Studies and trustee for the Awesome Foundation in Boston. It has since expanded to 30 chapters around the world giving out a total of nearly $40,000 so far. To extend the Awesome model to more serious endeavors, the Institute of Higher Awesome Studies, Inc. (IHAS) was born in February 2011. Armed with a Knight News Challenge grant, the Awesome News Taskforce was started. In a traditional Awesome Foundation, the trustees personally contribute the entirety of the microgrant. Funding for the Awesome News Taskforce-Detroit grants will be provided initially by the Knight grant, then eventually by crowdfunding and local business partnerships.

4. Define awesome. How do you decide what’s awesome?
Someone who has an innovative journalism and civic media project that create ripples of inspiration and engagement throughout the city would be considered AWESOME. There are 20 taskforce members who will review all of the applications and select one grant recipient to award each month (starting in March). The taskforce is looking to fund news-related projects that are not mainstream stories. We’re looking for citizen reporters. People who have ideas for creating unique projects that will help the community and will use non-traditional media outlets to get that story out to the public using social media, community news, mobile apps, etc.

5. So what’s the catch? What are the rules?
What you see is what you get. We’re looking for small projects that have the ability to make a big impact. Forget the numerous hoops, usual red-tape and lengthy applications you usually have to prepare when applying to traditional funding sources. There is a short application to complete located on our blog.
We have a rolling deadline on the 5th date of every month. Grants will be awarded by the end of every month in 2012.
OUR DISCLAIMER: The Awesome News Taskforce-Detroit will not support nor fund anything that is illegal, considered hateful, nor blatant political messages.

6. What other awesomeness will you have?

Did anybody say PARRR-TAY? The Awesome News Taskforce-Detroit will celebrate our grantees throughout the year at special AWESOME EVENTS. Check out our blog site or follow us on facebook and twitter regularly to keep up with the latest news and events.

7. I know news can be serious. But awesome can be fun and even silly – like great ice cream or the Tigers’ winning streak or a joke that makes you laugh until you start snorting. So how do you combine both into one micro-grant organization? 
Awesomeness is contagious. Detroit is the 30th chapter of the Awesome Foundation worldwide. Expect to see our news pop up in countless blogs, magazines, websites and various forms of social media. We’re counting on others to help us spread the word. If by chance you come across an article that makes you say “…well there’s some news that doesn’t suck,” then I guess we’re doing our job to help this world become a little more AWESOME.

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