Awesome Everywhere!

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About Us

AWESOME BEND: Making Bend more awesome, $1000 at a time. Our mission is to inspire & support ideas that can make Bend an even better place to live, work and play.

Next AWESOME BEND PITCH NIGHT: October 17th, 2017 6-8:30pm Summit Saloon 125 NW Oregon Street, Bend (Upstairs)

Live crowdfunding-- Shark Tank style-- for community good. $1000 awarded on the spot! Join us for a free feel-good evening of Ideas & Inspiration.



Awesome Bend awards a $1000 grant quarterly to a project that will make Bend even more awesome. The definition of "awesome" is intentionally left up to your imagination. It could mean solving a problem, making someone stop and think, or spreading joy-- think social good, the environment, technology, arts and beyond!

The grant has no strings attached (other than doing something awesome and telling us about it). We are high on action and low on bureaucracy. The application takes 15 minutes or less. Finalists deliver a 3-minute pitch at Pitch Night, where we select a winner and hand out $1000 on the spot to help them turn their awesome idea into reality.

Our only rules:

1.The project must be feasible and completed within 3 months of the award.

2.The money cannot be used for personal expenses or operating expenses for an established charity.

3.You agree to come back to the next Pitch Night and tell the community all about your project, thus inspiring future awesomeness.

(Hint for success: In your application, state very specifically, how your project will make Bend even more awesome.)


We need you! Give back and have loads of fun doing it.

Every quarter, each of our 10 trustees donates $100 and helps select the most crazy, brilliant, positive-impact project proposal to receive our combined $1000.

Want to be a catalyst for awesomeness? Apply to become an Awesome Bend trustee here.

Awesome Bend Funds Aprons and Chef Hats for After-School Cooking Program

BEND, Ore. — July 20, 2017 —Ashley Joyce and a group of students from the OSU Extension Nutrition Education Program won the July 18th Awesome Bend $1000 Pitch Night with their proposal "Cooking Up Food Heroes". They also won the Audience Favorite Prize, making their total winnings for the night $1189. The prize money will pay for aprons and chef’s hats for more than 170 students in an after-school cooking class called Kids in the Kitchen.

Through the seven lesson series, the program offers free cooking classes to fourth and fifth grade students, including a high percentage of youth qualifying for free and reduced meals. Many of the students at our lowest income schools do not have access to enrichment opportunities. This cooking class gives them a positive place to be and provides them education that impacts their food choices as well as empowering them to cook at home.

“We have seen students put on their aprons and transform!” said Joyce. “They are empowered. They are chefs. They take on the challenge of safely using chef's knives, graters, and hot appliances. They collaborate in teams to follow their recipe directions, become leaders and then share their creations with their families.”


Awesome Bend Winner to Share “Wind in the Hair” Cycling Experience with Those Unable to Ride

BEND, Ore. — April 19, 2017 —Courtney Van Fossan won the April 18th Awesome Bend $1000 Pitch Night with her proposal "Cycling Without Age Bend". She also won the Audience Favorite Prize, making her total winnings for the night $1257. With the prize money, Van Fossan will bring to Bend a unique "tri-shaw", a three-wheeled bike that comfortably carries two riders up front while a volunteer pedals. This enables elderly people and others who are unable to ride a bike to feel "the wind in their hair" exhilaration and pure joy that riding a bike elicits.

“I’ve biked for transportation with my kids, Ike and Georgia, for almost 10 years and it made such an impact on me that I’ve put my energy into promoting biking/walking in Bend on an everyday basis,” said Van Fossan. “This will make our elders and volunteers feel happy, healthy and involved in our active way of life. It will open up opportunities for those who may never experience the joy of riding a bike or who might otherwise be isolated. I hope to make the world a better place, one bike ride at a time.”

People interested in learning more can visit the Cycling Without Age Bend facebook page.

Project “You are Awesome” wins $1000 Pitch Night

BEND, Ore. — January 18, 2017 — Lenora James was the winner of Awesome Bend Pitch Night on January 17th at Summit Saloon with her proposal called Project “You are Awesome”. With the prize money, James will spread joy throughout the community by enabling people to share roses and “You are Awesome” stickers with unsuspecting people who need or deserve to know they are appreciated.

“It might be your son’s teacher or your daughter’s coach,” said James. “The receptionist at the dentist who was super nice to you or the checker at the grocery store that always makes your day.”

Within an hour of winning, the Project “You Are Awesome” Facebook page was up and running for people to find out more.

The Audience Choice prize of $187 was awarded to Jen Sawyer to plant a pollinator garden at Pilot Butte Cemetery. She has already been given permission by the City of Bend to sow a forage patch to the left of the entrance along the street.

“We plan on coordinating a small group of students from Marshall High School and other volunteers to aid in the development,” said Sawyer.

Awesome Bend Hosts Record Pitch Night

BEND, Ore. — October 19, 2016 — A record total of $1935 was awarded at the October 18th Awesome Bend Pitch Night held at Deschutes Brewery. The winner of the $1000 Awesome Bend grant was Phil Torchio who proposed the Bend Butt Project. With the money, Torchio will identify areas of highest litter rates, put into place receptacles and assemble a crew to capture the butts. The trash will be recycled or composted. He will be seeking local businesses to host receptacles and sponsor the program.

“Cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded piece of waste worldwide,” said Torchio. “Our quaint little mountain town of Bend is not immune to this problem. Many of the discarded butts end up in our river and water supply which is absolutely unacceptable. A strong stance must be established or we will be overrun by disrespectful slobs!”

The Audience Choice prize of $395 was awarded to Nancy Ludeman for her project called Hope Bags. Ludeman will assemble bags filled with personal items and small gifts which she will distribute to women who find themselves in difficult situations, such as homelessness, coming out of jail, fleeing an abusive situation or aging out of the foster care system.

“Having lived in Bend for 41 years, I have seen many changes,” said Ludeman. “Most of the changes have provided many opportunities for the community to flourish, yet some of these same changes have also brought hardship upon some individuals and families. Hope fuels creativity and creative people are more likely to invest in themselves and others. I want to provide hope in a bag.”

“As if that weren’t enough,” added Dean of Awesomeness Pam Stevenson, “a few trustees bonded together to make an additional contribution to another project that inspired them. I’m calling it a Spontaneous Awesomeness award.”

Joe Schulte received a commitment of $540 to provide free music lessons to children whose families cannot afford them.

Winner of our JANUARY 19, 2016 PITCH NIGHT:

Thirteen-year-old Alice McKnight won a record $1397 at the January Awesome Bend Pitch Night with a proposal called “Canine Care Kits”. Five finalists presented ideas to make Bend more awesome to room full of nearly 100 people at the event held on January19th at Deschutes Brewery. Alice won the $1000 grant from ten trustees who each donated $100 to make her idea a reality. In addition, she won the audience favorite award of $397. With the money, Alice will build and distribute canine care kits to homeless people in Bend. The kits will include dog food, dog chews, a leash, a foam sleeping pad and a collapsible water bowl. Alice had noticed that many homeless people in Bend have dogs, but she worried about how they were able to care for their dogs. “Caring for a dog can make you feel needed and wanted and can take your mind off your problems,” she said. “These kits will help homeless people keep their dogs healthier and happier which in turn will keep the humans healthy and happy too.”

Read about Alice here:


Winner of the inaugural Awesome Bend Pitch Night 4/21/15:

Wow! We are so honored to announce the winner of our very first Awesome Bend grant: Tracy Miller with "We Are Remembering- Not Just a Number". She walked away with the $1000 and another $221 from the audience to make her dream a reality-- remembering every single American killed in Afghanistan and Iraq during a 14-hour plus reading of names broadcast live to the world via webcast from our very own Troy Field this Memorial Day. There wasn't a dry eye or uninspired person in the room. Thank you, trustees. Thank you, audience. Tracy Miller, you are awesome.

Check out our TV coverage and story:

Meet the Trustees