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Do Something 'Awesome' for Your Community

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Have you ever thought about doing something "awesome" for your community, but didn't have the money to do it?

Now you can, as the first Connecticut chapter of the international Awesome Foundation of Arts and Sciences has been launched in Fairfield County by a Westport couple.

Andrew and Barbara Bangser have started the chapter, which will begin handing out monthly $1,000 grants to individuals and groups with worthy ideas across the state.

“We already have about seven or eight applications, and in January we will make our first grant award in Connecticut,” said Barbara Bangser. “We believe this will help create in Connecticut what has been such a wonderful and successful philanthropic effort in so many places around the world.”

Since the micro-funding foundation was launched two years ago in Boston, local units have been popping up all over the world, from New York to London and as far away as Australia.

Some of the ventures they have financed are a honeybee conservation program, a portable measuring device for high-school science students, a community fitness program and fruit harvesting from inner-city trees for the benefit of homeless shelters.

The Connecticut affiliate has a 10-member board of trustees for Fairfield County that is reviewing applications for next year. According to the Bangsers, the foundation “redefines philanthropy by awarding grants for projects that may touch upon any field.”

“The Awesome Foundation has a two-year history of funding people with small but truly inspirational ideas,” said Andrew Bangser, chapter founder and trustee. “These are inventors, artists, humanitarians, social entrepreneurs and others who wouldn’t be able to raise money through conventional philanthropy, but can use our flexible, no strings-attached grants to have a big impact on their communities.”

Bangser said the application process is easy and that “it is our goal to announce a new grantee each month. We’re looking for projects that are truly awesome, that spark a moment of joy and delight.”

Projects can range from food, music, art, publishing, the environment, humanitarian, education and other topics for the benefit of a Connecticut community. AwesomeCT grants can seed new ideas or help bring established projects to the next stage.

The first Awesome Foundation was founded in Boston in 2009 by Tim Wong to empower ordinary people to improve their communities. Now active in 28 cities across North America, Europe and Australia, Awesome Foundation chapters have funded dozens of innovative projects.

The inaugural $1,000 grant went toward the construction of a giant, 33-foot-long hammock in Boston. The project set a record for the world's largest portable hammock, using curved steel pipes to frame 4,278 feet of rope fashioned from recycled bottles.

Connecticut applicants can apply for a grant or learn more by visiting www.awesomect.org.

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