03/13/2012 05:17 pm ET Updated May 13, 2012

Now That's Awesome

It's official! The Institute of Higher Awesome Studies (IHAS) announced Detroit as its 30th chapter worldwide. Under the umbrella of the Awesome Foundation, this new initiative is called the Awesome News Taskforce-Detroit. The taskforce is comprised of 19 trustees and a dean who are seeking people who have innovative ideas for journalism and civic media projects that will engage other metro Detroiters. Armed with a Knight News Challenge grant awarded to the IHAS, the Detroit team will give out micro-grants in the amount of $1,000 to fund news-related projects that are not necessarily found in mainstream media, but instead, communicated through social media outlets, community papers, mobile apps, etc.

In July of 2009, Tim Hwang started 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. After receiving 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. As an IHAS-established chapter, however, the Awesome News Taskforce's grants will be subsidized by IHAS so that economic status is not a requirement for becoming a trustee. Funding for the grants will be provided initially by the Knight grant, and eventually by crowd funding and local business partnerships.

The Awesome News Taskforce-Detroit will fund projects that need a small amount of funding for a project that can make a big impact. This initiative seeks to support projects that may get overlooked by some of the larger, conventional, funding sources. The purpose is to support and improve the civic media infrastructure within the city, whether it's a useful gov 2.0 app for citizen reporting or a timely and underexposed story. This is an opportunity to assist citizens, organizations and community leaders who are inventive and willing to give a voice to interesting, untold stories in metro Detroit.

The application is available online. There is a rolling deadline on the fifth day of each month. The first grant will be awarded on March 30, then every month thereafter for the entire year in 2012.

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