This new foundation is giving $1,000 grants to help make Cleveland even more awesome


Earlier in June, Cleveland’s newly minted chapter of the Awesome Foundation selected its first two grantees: BigHearted Blooms and Building Furniture to Build Futures. Both initiatives were awarded $1,000 by the recently formed group of 25 Awesome Foundation–Cleveland Chapter trustees—helping to turn two impactful ideas into reality.

The Awesome Foundation has nearly 100 chapters across the globe, built on awarding no-strings-attached micro-grants of $1,000 to worthy causes and initiatives. Allison Lukacsy-Love started the Cleveland chapter of the Awesome Foundation in spring 2019 after she applied for an international grant for her Give Box CLE project in early 2018. Lukacsy-Love didn’t receive a grant, but was inspired to start a local Awesome Foundation group.

Lukacsy-Love has assembled a group of 25 trustees, all of whom have agreed to be an active part of the voting process and donate $400 per year toward the micro-grants. (Among the group of trustees are Green Ribbon Coalition's Dick Clough, Refresh Collective's Doc Harrill, MAGNET's Matt Fieldman and Skoda Minotti's Alyson Fieldman, Cleveland Foundation's Stephen Love, OHM Advisors' Keshia Johnson-Chambers, FreshWater's own Jen Jones Donatelli, and more.)

Awesome Foundation–Cleveland grants will be awarded quarterly, and the two grants awarded last week are the first to be given in the chapter’s history. Among more than 50 applicants, the two grantees selected were BigHearted Blooms and Building Furniture to Build Futures.

BigHearted Blooms repurposes flower arrangements from funerals, weddings, and other large special occasions to give as gifts to those who could use an “emotional lift.” Since launching in May 2018, BigHearted Blooms has given bouquets to 5,000 Clevelanders in assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, hospice, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, cancer treatment, dialysis centers, and more.

According to founder Sue Buddenbaum, BigHearted Blooms will use the $1,000 to purchase a used floral cooler that will enable them to greatly expand their efforts. “It will allow us to take in more donations and produce more bouquets, so it’s key to growing our impact,” says Buddenbaum. “We can’t wait to put the grant to work.”

Building Furniture to Build Futures is helmed by Anthony DiPiero, a second-year teacher at Design Lab Early College High School. During the 2019-2020 school year, he plans to make “graduation presents” for teens aging out of foster care as a quarter-long class project. Together with his students, DiPiero will make starter furniture sets including wooden nightstands, slatted mattress platforms, small kitchen tables, and two chairs to be donated to Community of Hope.

In the past, he and have students have built benches for the school; Little Free Libraries; and tables, chairs, and bookcases for the school library—this one will be their "most ambitious undertaking yet." Says DiPiero, "[This project] is so important because it will have Design Lab students doing valuable work for a real-world application, and the furniture sets will have great impact on the youth of our community."

The second round of applications has begun for the next two Awesome Foundation–Cleveland grants of $1,000, which will be awarded in September 2019. The chapter is also seeking additional trustees to expand its impact and funding ability. Grant applications and more information for potential trustees and grantees can be found here.