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Tampa Bay's first 'Awesome' grant awarded for locally grown produce idea

Ryan Iacovacci has an awesome idea for moving locally grown produce from community farms into the homes of low-income residents in Sulphur Springs and beyond.

Awesome enough to win him $1,000 in seed money to grow his dream.

Iacovacci's proposal was picked from among more than 120 applications for the first "Awesome Tampa Bay" grant.

The local group was launched this year to fund clever and simple ways to solve community problems. Each of the group's 10 trustees committed to ante up $400, for a total of $4,000 annually.

Though the microgrants are admittedly small, organizers hope that $4,000 spread among four different ideas throughout the year will translate to an unexpected payoff down the road.

"A thousand dollars in the hands of the right person can be easily magnified into 10 times that amount," said T. Hampton Dohrman, one of the Awesome Tampa Bay founders.

For Iacovacci's project, which he calls the Birdhouse Buying Club, the grant would go toward buying a food cooler at a liquidation auction. Any leftover money would be used to help set up a wireless card system for electronically transferring funds.

Among other applicants:

• Eve Walker came in second with her "Get Us Out of the House!" proposal to let parents of special-needs kids have a night out once a month while volunteers watch their kids.

• Roger Allen secured third place with "Tampa Vulturefest," his vision of establishing an annual festival in downtown Tampa honoring the "much-maligned birdies," complete with a buzzard statue to lead a parade.

The runnersup, along with other applicants, can reapply for the next grant. That's part of the beauty of the program, Dohrman said: "There are no rules."

Unlike typical grants, applicants don't need to give references or detailed proposals, or follow up to account for how they've spent the money. They only need give their name, contact information and a brief description of their project.

The next grant will be doled out in March.

For more information, go to awesometampa bay.org.

Tampa Bay's first 'Awesome' grant awarded for locally grown produce idea 12/05/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2011 9:37pm]
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