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January 2014 Grant Awarded to “Career Exploration Club”

2 Mar

Our January grant came from an Awesome pool of projects that put us in a challenging spot (exactly where we like to be).  Some of the projects that made to the short list included:

All of you, please resubmit as you wish and as your projects evolve!  We think they are great.

But back to our winner!  We asked the project creator, Russel Chichester to tell us a bit more about his project to help provide kids with better tools to navigate their career and this is what he had to say…

What’s your project all about: It’s about giving young people a head start in life by exposing them to the best advice possible though a career exploration workshop hosted by the Career Exploration Club. For most high school students, deciding on a future career path and on a University/ College program can be an intimidating and nerve-wracking experience. Most students get to Grade 12 still unsure what career path is right for them. There are many career options out there, but no criteria/method to help them determine why one career path is better suited for them than another. With the Awesome Foundation money we will be able to put on a full eight week workshop for our graduating class through the Career Exploration Club.

What will this mean for your students: These students are in the process of making life changing career decisions and for the majority of them, as first generation Canadians, don’t have or understand the resources available to them to make these decisions. This grant will really help them out.

If anyone else wants to find out more or help out, how can they get in touch: You can always visit our website, our contact information is there as well.


December 2013 Grant Awarded to “Revamp our inner city school Library”

2 Mar

A little late in sharing this Awesome project with you all, but better late than never – especially with this one.  In December 2013 we decide to award our last grant of the year to help Laura Inglis revive and revamp an unused library in the school where she teaches in Scarborough.  We were touched by her personal commitment to build a new space for learning, play and imagination where there was nothing but potential.  In the past month she has transformed that space into just that.  It so exciting to see projects come to life with as much vigour and speed as this one, and it goes without saying that we all feel fortunate to be associated with her commitment to her kids.  They even sent us a thank you letter recently!!  XOImage

Awesome TO

Tinker. Hack. Invent. Make… something Awesome!

28 Aug

Robots. Fire. Drones. Lasers. 3D printers. The Toronto Awesome Foundation will be teaming up with the Toronto Mini Maker Faire for our September 2013 Awesome pitch event and grant. If you call yourself a “Maker” we want to hear about, and hopefully fund your Awesome idea, hack or invention with a $1000, no strings attached grant. The Mini Maker Faire will be held at Wychwood Barns on September 21-22 and our pitch event will be going down at 4pm on Saturday the 21st. Even if you do not submit an idea (which is unlikely because you are awesome) we would love to see you at this ridiculously fun event. Please visit for more info.

Please be sure to submit your awesome idea, and reference “Maker Faire” in the project description so we know to consider your idea in association with the Maker Faire grant. The deadline is Sept 15th, we’ll let you know if you’re selected for the shortlist shortly thereafter!

Want to attend the faire? Maker Faire has given us a discount code for 20% off tickets!

Lets “Make” some Awesome!

Winners Q&A: #teetertotter

7 Jun

HashtagTeetertotter1) Congratulations! What’s your project all about?

My project is about creating a very unique teeter-totter which will be mainly constructed out of recycled, repurposed, and scavenged materials. My main interest in this project is for it to have the ability to crowd surf throughout Toronto communities, where the piece will stay for monthly increments at various host sites – free of charge. Additional focus will be put on carving various #tags and related social media indicators onto the piece. This attention to detail will help direct the viral flow of images and messages from those who visit and interact with the teeter totter. Ideally I am attempting to create a Nomadic Micro Monument.

2) Did you have wonderful experiences with teetertotters as a kid? What makes you keen on bringing this type of joy to Toronto?

I certainly did enjoy my time spent in playgrounds as a young child. But more so, I have always been interested in building interactive objects and forts to have fun with. The project embodies many ideas into the one object but with those considerations aside, I can confidently say that my desire to create the #teetertotter simply appeals to my pure-hearted intentions of spreading intrigue and joy throughout Toronto.

3) How can people get in contact with you if they want to help out?

I will be producing a website to host maps, links, contact forums, etc. to the #teetertotter project. For now, information will largely be designated to a specific (#teetertotter) section of my page.

May Pitch Night

29 May

We’re having another Awesome pitch night at the Gladstone, on Thursday at 6pm! See all the details and RSVP at eventbrite. We’ll have 5 ideas vying to win $1000:

  • Bum Notes
  • I Am Torontonian
  • Toronto Is Awesome
  • #teetertotter
  • commUnity T.O.

Hope to see you all there!

March Pitch Night Video & Winners Q&A

2 Apr

Q & A with our winner, Tara Muldoon of F-You, the Forgiveness Project:

1) Congratulations! What’s your project all about?

Thank-you so much for all you and Toronto Awesome do! F-You: The Forgiveness Project is a community-based organization that asks what forgiveness looks like in a variety of scenarios and experiences. We run panels, workshops and groups on the idea of forgiveness. Sometimes we work around a specific issue such as gang violence, relationships, addiction, topics around sex, etc.

We are just over two years old and run by a team of youth/young adults from a variety of backgrounds.

2) Forgiving someone isn’t an easy thing to do; it can be very emotional. Do people sometimes cry at your events?

Our events can provoke a variety of emotions including tears, anger and everything else under the sun. It’s all welcome and understood.

3) I’d like to talk about forgiveness, or I’d like to volunteer. How can I get in touch with you, and when is your next event?

We would love to hear from you! TMuldoon at is my email address and our twitter is @projectfword.

We have monthly – sometimes weekly – events across the city and the next one is April 9th at the Jane+Finch mall.

Next pitch night: January 31, 2013 7 PM

25 Jan

Find out which of the Awesome Foundation Toronto submitters will win $1,000 to make Toronto more awesome!

Sign up at . See you there!

Five groups will be pitching us on the 31st:

Train of Thought

Well you see what we do is, we take a bunch of people who voluntarily come with us onto the subway trains and break down social barriers and spread positive messages of love & unity. A wide range of people come out, but the two main groups of people are performing artists and non performing artists. As you can see, everyone is still considered an artist, unity, right?

Now, for those riding with us as performing artists, if they have a “piece” (poetry/singing/rap/etc…) or instrument, or dance, prepared to share, they are encouraged to be a part of the flash portion of the project. This is where the artist surprises the riders with their piece as an act of spontaneous expression.

For the non performing artists, they are also encouraged to take part in the social barrier breaking aspect of the project, to their own discretion. To help break the ice between the riders and artists, we provide the artists with post it notes & hand written signs asking riders “for a simple favour?” & then as you flip the card, on the back all you ask is for a smile: =).

Another social barrier ice breaker we get non performing artists to take part in is our “Thought Board”. Riders are asked to sign our “thought board” with what ever thought they may have in mind at the moment positive//negative. A great way for riders to write other riders positive words of encouragement, or a great way for them to vent out what may be troubling their mind.

All of these random expressions of love, and acts of art are geared to connecting humans during what normally would be an autonomous part of their day in a creative, spontaneous, and harmonious way. Only art can turn an idea so crazy into something understandable, because it gives someone standing from a distance or a stranger something they can resonate with deeply.

Super furniture at Rear View Artspace

Rear View Art-space, founded by Jennifer Davis and Su-Ying Lee, is an atypical site for art aimed at wanderers, the curious, the adventurous, and the lost. Located in an unassuming Toronto laneway (behind Lee’s home), in a residential neighbourhood, the architecture of this “gallery” is comprised of fences, garages and pavement. In this quirky urban space, artists are challenged to think outside the white-walled gallery and, instead, create projects that will be encountered by “patrons” passing in the street. These projects, found in our own backyard, help us imagine new and crazy ways of inhabiting our everyday environment. Rear View Art-space is a mini-creative-laboratory where propositions are put forth about how our city can be re-shaped with new vision.

Communication networks, happenstance or serendipity draw visitors to Rear View Art-space for unexpected encounters, a detour from the everyday and food for thought. Built on the ethos of DIY and “if you build it, they will come”, Davis and Lee create opportunity from their abundance of creative vision in an economy of limited physical and financial resources. Rear View Art-space will be a continuing project that presents one exhibition per season.

Super Furniture is the inaugural exhibition of Rear View Art-space, confirmed to launch the summer of 2013. This cartoonish and whimsical installation by architect and graphic novelist, Jimenez Lai, is conceived of as “a building that is too small and furniture that is too big.” The project, designed especially for the laneway site, offers visitors the opportunity to inhabit windows of a life-sized comic book page. The project revives the eternal fascination of chidhood fort building, club founding and playing out of sight of ‘grown ups’. Super Furniture is a novel proposition for how we might live and socialize in the unique, but often overlooked, spaces of Toronto.

Teen Legal Helpline

Access to justice in Canada is in a state of crisis. The Chief Justice has spoken publicly about the inability of most Canadians to afford counsel. The Canadian Bar Association finds high proportions of people navigate legal proceedings on their own because of the failure of legal aid. Yet, in 2010 more than 150,000 youth dealt with the criminal legal system — many alone, as teens and social workers rarely receive reliable advice. Without change, these teens will be lost in the legal system.

We help teens by offering free and confidential legal advice through our website According to experts, the largest unmet access to justice need is diagnosing and explaining legal situations, and that is what Teen Legal Helpline does.

Teen Legal Helpline is the first service of its kind to use technology to improve access to justice. Attempts to alleviate the problem in Canada have so far depended on legal clinics that provide free or low cost legal services only to indigent clients. These almost always have physical locations, depend on public funding (which is on the verge of collapse), and cannot scale. Instead of relying on the service models of physical clinics, we leverage a network of volunteer lawyers across the country to provide teens with specific answers to their legal questions. We can do this because our platform is designed to solve the largest barrier to lawyer volunteerism: the inability to predict availability or capacity. Our service lets lawyers answer discrete questions at their convenience and directly from their inbox, without disrupting how they currently work. Our technology is built to handle very large volumes of questions, so we can scale to match the size of the problem we are tackling.

Love takes the worry out of being close

My project is part of this year’s HATCH residency at Harbourfront. It is a queer and Trans re-imagining of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s infamous Bed-ins which protested the Vietnam War. Like their actions, it will be part love-fest, part political act.

In “love takes the worry out of being close” I am putting queer and trans lover/activist teams in a big bed – a different team each day of the residency week. These teams will invite audiences into their bed to talk about different political issues. From Gay Marriage to Idle No More, they will discuss, facilitate and encourage a public, warm and fuzzy conversation that is centred around non-violence and collective mobilization. There will be 4 teams of 2 -3 people each.

We will be doing 8 workshops in February and March to prepare for this experience. Though they will all have experience as facilitators in political context, many won’t be seasoned performance artists. The workshops will be opportunities to flush out how to talk about their chosen issues in an art context, and offer a number of tools for non-violent facilitation when it comes to conversation.

The performances will run from April 8 – 13, 2013 at Harbourfront’s Studio Theatre. Audiences will encounter the lover/activists in white pajamas and surrounded by beautiful white flowers, just like John and Yoko. They will invite you and you and you into their comfy room, which will feel like a hotel room. Together, you will explore the issues they are passionate about with laughter, conversation, education and love. On the final day, we will show documentation from the week, and get feedback from the audience on their thoughts and experiences of the work.

We will take the whole thing to Montreal, where we’ll do it in the REAL hotel rooms that John and Yoko used at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (1738, 1740, 1742 and 1744) back in late May and early June, 1969. For that part of the project, I am applying to the Canada Council’s Inter-Arts Office.

The Davisville Community Outdoor Learning Garden

The Eco Comittee has five main goals: 1. To foster leadership and teamwork; 2. To reduce our impact on the environment; 3. To care for and create vibrant school grounds; 4. To improve student achievement through ecological literacy; and, 5. To contribute to healthy, safe and caring communities.

To further achieve these goals, the Davisville Eco-Committee is creating the Davisville Community Outdoor Learning Garden. The Garden will be a vibrant education and recreation space for students, educators and community members to engage in hands-on learning activities, to socialize and to play. Working with students and the greater community our plan includes the installation for extra seating, a free community library, environmentally sensitive play areas, and a small scale greenhouse.

The learning and social hub will include natural rock seating, an outdoor chalkboard and ecological learning stations placed throughout the garden. The play areas will enhance creative play, promoting awareness and sensitivity about our local environment. To promote literacy and the love of reading we will install two free community book boxes. These free libraries will be a place where both children and adults can come to exchange books and, therefore, create a cycle of people returning the garden again and again. The greenhouse will be a year round living laboratory for our community to learn, explore and grow. The greenhouse will be a space to conduct experiments, learn about natural life cycles and even grow food for the school snack program!

The Davisville community is a high density urban area and many residents have limited access to natural green space to relax, play and explore. As we become increasingly urbanised, we becoming increasingly alienated from our natural environment. The Garden provides this natural space while fostering an increased sense of belonging, engagement and stewardship.

Sign up at . See you there!

Missed the deadline for this round? No worries, you can still submit your awesome idea for the February grant. Next deadline: February 15.

Last few days before the January 15 deadline!

11 Jan

Do you want to possibly win $1,000 in a paper bag for a project that will make Toronto even more awesome? Don’t forget to submit your idea by January 15, 2013 so that you’ll make it into this month’s round of funding.

Need more time? We’d love to hear from you next month!

A Groundbreaking July for Awesome

9 Aug

The July pitch night, held August 1 at our friendly local Gladstone Hotel, featured cultural immersion in heritage buildings, bike powered funk, an inspiring film idea, and a live performance from our neighbours in the Complete Streets Band.  In the end, we couldn’t resist what seemed like a natural collaboration between the Toronto Bike Music Festival and the Complete Streets Band.  Each received $500 and support for a collaboration when the music fest rolls through town on September 15th.


July Awesome Short-list and Grant Party!

28 Jul

Our July Awesome was so huge that it didn’t fit in the month of July!  On August 1st, we’re inviting our top 4 Awesome Proposals to pitch their ideas to our trustees and friends at The Gladstone Hotel.  Check out the event brite here and read on to get an idea of our Awesome Applicants:

Complete Street Band – Justin Malecki

As this is the third, hopefully charmed time that I am applying to the Awesome Foundation, you may be tired of hearing about The Complete Street Band, the community street band open to musicians of all ages and musical abilities, dedicated to making Toronto’s public spaces more exciting and inviting places to be.  

So let me rather tell you what we’ve been up to and why I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to even resubmit an application to you for the last couple of months.

1.    Playing for the Bells on Bloor mass ride to Queen’s park for the safer streets rally in June.  The Complete Street Band gathered outside of Honest Ed’s at Bloor and Bathurst and played for the stream of cyclists riding by as well as those on the street, much to everyone’s delight.

2.    “”A street band in search of a street piano””.  On the second Saturday in July, The Complete Street Band marched through Trinity-Bellwoods park, playing contemplative, park-like music, before setting up at the piano that was placed in the park as part of the fantastic “Play me, I’m yours” exhibit.  At least that was the plan except there was no piano to be found when we arrived!  We found out too late that the piano had been moved but that didn’t stop us from playing a set for a very appreciative crowd right there in the park.  

3.    Playing in the courtyard outside of St. Stephen in the Fields church in the north end of Kensington market many Saturday afternoons.  The band rehearses every Saturday at the church but we often find ourselves lured outside to play for the folks on College St.  

The band is currently composed of 8-12 musicians though we continue to actively seek out more.  Recently, I have been focusing on reaching out to younger musicians who may be looking for new opportunities to play.

360 Screenings – Ned Loach

360 Screenings combines the screening of a film with elements of live theatre to create an entirely immersive experience. The venue, which could be a loft, a field, or any unique location, is chosen based on the setting of the film being screened and is completely furnished to reflect the film’s environment. It is part of our mandate to use Toronto heritage buildings as our venues and include vendors from the local surroundings.  Actors enhance the experience by portraying key characters, and, halfway through the event, cue the audience to move into the screening-room by re-enacting a pivotal scene from the film.

Our first screening on May 25th generated a large amount of positive buzz and we are currently in the development stages of our next event scheduled for August 15th. It is in our mandate to always use Toronto heritage buildings as our venues, and to work with the local businesses and community partners near the venue. For a recap video of what our first screening on May 25th looked like, please follow this line:

Toronto Bicycle Music Festival – James Davis

This is the third year I’ve run the Bicycle Music Festival, a pedal-powered, mobile music festival. It’s a free community event involving a series of outdoor concerts and performances on Sept. 15, all powered by bicycles! The P.A. for the event runs off of bike generators pedaled by the audience and all gear and instruments are moved between our park venues on cargo bikes and bike trailers by an awesome team of volunteer roadies. We ride as a group from one venue to the next and even have live performances along the way!

The festival features independent musicians from a variety of genres performing in beautiful park settings to diverse audiences. Families make up a big part of the crowd and you can usually find at least half a dozen kids dancing in front of the stage.

One of the best parts of the event is that it brings together people who you wouldn’t normally find at a music festival. Our accessible and innovative format draws in almost as many passers-by as folks who had planned to attend. What could be more quintessentially Toronto than a taxi driver parking his cab to listen to electro-pop in a park?

The festival has grown each year and we’re determined to make it even bigger and better this year. I recently attended the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival, which is powered by 20 bikes and features a 4′ by 8′ mobile stage, and I’ve returned with the inspiration to take our festival to the next level. There’s a huge buzz in this city about all things bike-related and ever-growing interest in powering events by bike. Our festival has captured many imaginations and is poised to be the catalyst for a bike-powered revolution in Toronto.
Here are some other things we’re dreaming of: Imagine a group of bankers stumbling upon a bike-powered square dance on Bay Street, or politicians leaving Queens’ Park and encountering a pedal-powered burlesque show! Bike-powered events allow access to unconventional venues and hold the promise of shaking things up all over the city!

Happy Together – Heeseung Ko

My documentary project, “Happy Together” is about the a wedding story of North Korean Refugees in Toronto. There are about three hundreds of NK refugees and more than seven of NK people waiting to receive regal status in Canada. Most of the refugees left their love ones and escape alone. The family that they are having now is created after they escaped from NK. Because of that reason, most of them never had chance to have wedding ceremonies. They have been through rough and unbelievable times. Against all the bad memories, they are trying to embrace happiness. In September, the association of NK people are holding the group wedding ceremony for teen couples. I am also the part of the group wedding ceremony committee and also making a documentary about the wedding. This wedding is not only for the teen couple but also for the citizens of Toronto to embrace the freedom and love.

1. A documentary video
2. Wedding photos and videos for the wedding couples

PS; I am working with two North Korean refugees as film crews; one is a assistant director and the other is a camera operator.

Come Join us at the Gladstone Hotel, 7pm on August 1st.  Make sure to RSVP using the link below and bring your Awesome!



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