New foundation funds art projects in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A group of people who love art is looking to transform Youngstown from a city without an identity into a vibrant, creative, and thriving area that fosters thinking and progress.

The Awesome Foundation is ready to hand out grants to promote the arts in Youngstown.

Dr. Lillian Lewis, assistant professor of art education at Youngstown State, said the idea of bright young people not having the opportunity to give back to their community is called “brain drain.”

“So, effectively, we’re just launching them out of the nest. We really want people to think of Youngstown as a place that’s fertile for new kinds of ideas and new kinds of opportunities in the 21st Century.”

She said as Youngstown redefines itself, space needs to be made for YSU graduates and those coming back to the city. Attracting young people and keeping them here is the key.

“Young people need things to do so we want to continue to support that creative energy, this vibrancy,” Lewis said.

Lewis helped create a new chapter of the Awesome Foundation in Youngstown.

“Awesome Foundation is a national foundation that provides mini grants to various causes. It has a structure that allows different groups to create their own local chapters,” she said

Right now, the Youngstown chapter is taking applications for a $1,000 grant. The money for the grant was raised by artists in Youngstown and through crowdfunding.

Anyone with an idea — whether it’s a piece of artwork that would look good in Youngstown, promoting art education, or getting an art-related idea off the ground — can apply.

“Open to students, open to adults, it’s open to professional artists, it’s open to nonprofessional artists,” Lewis said.

You don’t have to be from Youngstown but your idea needs to work in the city.

It doesn’t have to be a whole project, either. It can even be one idea that could springboard into something larger.

Regardless, the foundation wants to hear from you because art, leaders believe, is how Youngstown will make a comeback.

“With the Youngstown Business Incubator and lots of other startups downtown, there’s this growing, creative area,” Lewis said.

As of Thursday night, 36 applications had been submitted. The Awesome Foundation’s goal is to get 100.

The proposal period closes September 8 so if you’ve got an idea that you think you can bring to life, send an email to