September 2, 2014

Philanthropy

Awesome Tampa Bay awards awesome grants

Art Levy | 1/23/2012
Awesome Tampa Bay
T. Hampton Dohrman (left) and Peter Kageyama created Awesome Tampa Bay to reward ideas that benefit the local community. Michelle Royal is one of the group's contributors. [Photo: Michael Heape]

Peter Kageyama and his fellow "trustees of awesomeness" reviewed more than 120 ideas late last year to see which one was worthy of a $1,000 grant. During the considerations, the trustees looked to support a project that would somehow contribute to the overall good of Tampa Bay, perhaps by solving a community problem or addressing a community need. Other than that, the idea just needed to be really, really awesome. Awesomeness, Kageyama says, is something the trustees can't always explain, but they "know it when we see it."

Foreign Investment

480 ? Number of foreign-owned companies in Tampa Bay, up from 394 foreign-owned companies two years ago

Source: Tampa Bay Partnership

Kageyama, founder of Creative Cities Productions in St. Petersburg, and
T. Hampton Dohrman, executive director of Hampton Arts Management in Ybor City, created Awesome Tampa Bay in September after hearing about the Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences in Boston, which began awarding "no strings attached" micro-grants to Boston-area projects two years ago.

Kageyama and Hampton recruited eight other Tampa Bay residents who agreed to fund four $1,000 grants a year. They want nothing in return other than a promise that the money will be used for its stated purpose.

"I'm a small-business owner who wants to commit and contribute to the community," says Michelle Royal, one of the trustees and CEO of How Do You Innovate, a St. Petersburg consulting firm. "This is an easy way for me to become an entry-level philanthropist. I like the idea that you can do a lot of with very little. For an individual who can see the possibilities, $1,000 can mean a lot."

Dohrman says the ideas vying for the first grant were "across the board," including one from someone who noticed that wheelchair-bound fans at Tampa Bay Rays games don't have a proper place to put their food while they eat. So he wants to give them trays that would snap onto their wheelchairs.

The $1,000, though, went to Ryan Iacovacci of Sulphur Springs, who will use the money to transport produce grown at community farms to low- income residents.
The deadline for applying for the next $1,000 grant is Feb. 1.

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