Thanking, Teaching, and Tactile

Awarding the first Berlin Awesome Foundation grant of 2015

Tonight at Betahaus, the Berlin Awesome Foundation will award the first €1000 grant of 2015. At 8PM, three finalists will make five-minute pitches to tell the trustees and the public more about their projects. If you want to attend the pitch event and the award ceremony, register here so we know how many people to expect.

Before the presentations tonight, We’d like to announce the finalists. One project that earned our love this round came from the German Federation for Blind and Partially Sighted People (DBSV for short). One of the many great things they do is to design and create tactile illustrations for childrens’ books so that a blind or partially sighted child can understand what an elephant looks like, or a volcano. Their grant proposal began with this explanation:

What does an elephant look like? And a digger? And a volcano? For blind children, things that are too big, too far away or too dangerous to be touched, are not so easily understandable. While sighted children usually develop an understanding of basic concepts through incidental learning, children with a visual impairment need to learn these concepts in an intentional manner. Touching original objects or models or getting things described are different methods on how to get a better idea of the environment.

The DBSV’s grant money would go to buying a 3D printer and training to use it so that they could produce models for the books they produce.

Image from the grant proposal for the German Federation for Blind and Partially Sighted People

If you would like to get involved in helping the DBSV in Berlin, have a look at their “engagement” page (auf Deutsch).

Another wonderful project that made it into our final three is She Codes, the Social Coding School for Women. We know there are a lot of initiatives out there to improve gender parity in technology work and there are also plenty of online coding schools. What impressed us about this project were the success stories that its founder was able to tell. Having started this project as a sideline, teaching in a Kreuzberg kitchen, they have already started training with great results. In fact, one of the cofounders is also the first student!

Last year I met Olena Levitsky. At the time she was a single mother with no regular income and was living in emergency housing. She now is a permanently employed programmer. Together we founded she.codes to replicate her story.

The last project that will be presented tonight moved us with its simplicity. Abdulsalam Hamdan is a 24-year-old Syrian student with a history of volunteer and social activism in his native country before events forced him to flee to Europe and study abroad.

Abdulsalam feels it is a shame that so much of the media spotlight when it comes to the topic of refugees in Germany is on negative subjects like racist demonstrations when there are so many people doing what they can to help others in need. He wrote:

There is nothing more beautiful than saying “thank you” to those who help, open their hearts, give their time, effort and money to refugees, in order to give them some comfort, reduce their pain and make them feel home again.
Even though it might be not that easy, but still they are doing their best. Those people, those heroes, offer their help unconditionally, they do not expect anything in return. Those are the real heroes. I and a lot of us would like to take the moment, look in their eyes, give them a flower and say from the heart : THANK YOU !

There were so many great proposals for this round, it was hard to choose. We never had such a long shortlist before! Hopefully a lot of the people whose proposals did not make it to the final three will also join us tonight to hear these presentations. The trustees would love to meet them all. Over the months until our next deadline and grant award we will be telling you about some of the other projects we loved from this batch, so click on the “follow” button and stay tuned.

Our next deadline for submissions is midnight, Saturday August 15th. Just go to the website and click on the big, pink “apply for a grant” button at the bottom of the page. Also, as always, like us on Facebook.

The Awesome Foundation is an international organization of loosely linked, lightweight chapters. If you’re not a Berliner, look for a chapter in your town or if there isn’t one yet, get one started.

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.