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‘Awesome Santa Cruz’ helping fund local community projects

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV)- A group of 13 Santa Cruz County residents launched the first Central Coast chapter for the Awesome Foundation.

'Awesome Santa Cruz' is offering no-strings-attached $1,000 microgrant to fund a creative, community-minded project within the Santa Cruz County area. The group focuses on projects that bring people together, promoting compassion and opportunities for community-building that might not otherwise exist.

The Awesome Foundation is a global organization that helps implement small community projects across the globe.

Jenni Ward is a local artist and co-founder of the 'Awesome Santa Cruz' chapter. She learned about the Awesome Foundation and wanted to start a chapter in Santa Cruz County.

Debra Miller-Dobler who also co-founded the Santa Cruz County chapter said that the organization wants to bring the community together through these projects.

"It's a small way to create positivity in our community and bring creative ideas to life that may just need a little financial boost to happen," Miller-Dobler said.

Since April 2023, 'Awesome Santa Cruz' has already awarded four grants this year to four projects.

The first winner was Emily Meehan who created a film project titled, 'Concurrent.' The film is about

the intersection of female sexuality, spirituality, surfing, and creativity. Meehan said that she plans on using those funds to support her collaborators and complete the stop-motion animation portions of the film which she plans on showing later this year.

In May, Andrew Purchin received the grant for his project entitled ‘What’s Home? Painters Listen Across Differences,’ a collaborative series of paintings and short films focusing on homelessness and connections between Santa Cruz and Watsonville.

This is a photo form Andrew Purchin's project titled 'What's Home? Painters Listen Across Differences'. Photo courtesy of Andrew Purchin

Stephanie Suarez received the June grant for her project called ‘BIPOC Arts Healing Circles’ in Watsonville. Suarez hosts bi-monthly arts & crafts days specifically for LGBTQI+ individuals.

Some of the activities as part of the craft days include sending mail to LGBTQI+ prisoners. Suarez will be using the funds to purchase additional art materials specific to disabled participants.

Here is a picture of Stephanie Suarez at a postcard coloring table as part of the Biopic Healing Circles project. She received the June funding grant award for her project. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Suarez

This month, Sara Homan received the funding for her ‘Sewing School’ classes at the Star Community School in Santa Cruz. The students that participated in those classes needing credit recovery and social-emotional support. The grant will allow Homan to purchase more tools and materials for her students to expand on their projects and skills. 

Any individuals or groups who are interested in submitting their projects can do so here.

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Derrick Ow

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