Since 2013, the nonprofit Community Shares of Mid Ohio has sought to redefine how central Ohio thinks about philanthropy by connecting community improvement projects to grassroots funding through Columbus SOUP, a crowdfunding or kickstarter campaign.
Columbus SOUP hosts quarterly events where attendees pay a minimum $7 donation for dinner to support the program. Guests also hear about community improvement proposals and get a vote as to which should be funded.
For the first time, the fall 2017 Columbus SOUP event will be geared toward teens. It's scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Amelita Mirolo Barn, 4395 Carriage Hill Lane, Upper Arlington, featuring five project concepts developed by central Ohio teens. Food will be provided by Two Caterers, Sweet Carrot and OH! Chips.
"Columbus SOUP is creating access to philanthropy," said Liz Martin, Columbus SOUP executive director. "It also gives a platform to people who are trying to get community improvements but who aren't big enough to receive larger grants."
Since its inception, Columbus SOUP has hosted 15 events and provided $42,117 in funding to 17 projects, she said.
Teens have through Oct. 22 to submit grant applications for the fall Columbus SOUP. Those to be featured at the Nov. 5 event will be announced online Oct. 24 at columbussoup.org
According to the Columbus SOUP website, projects can be geared toward "architecture, awareness initiatives, clothing, community building, community gardens, culinary arts, cultural promotions, dance, digital arts, education, electronics, employment initiatives, fine art, film, metal working, music, nonprofit social enterprises, theater, photography, sculpture, woodworking, workshops and writing."
The five applicants who are selected for the Columbus SOUP will provide five-minute presentations about their projects at the Nov. 5 dinner and spend two minutes answering questions from attendees.
"We're only hearing projects that would benefit the community that are led by teens," Martin said. "They're basically going to be identifying a problem in a community and bringing a solution to it."
The fall Columbus SOUP is coming to Upper Arlington through funding from the Krauss Family Fund at the Upper Arlington Community Foundation and the 4J Fund at the Upper Arlington Education Foundation.
Martin said funds from admission fees for the evening will support the first-place project selected at the fall Columbus SOUP. The second-place and third-place selections will receive funding collected through a raffle and bake sale, respectively.
"One hundred percent of the dollars we collect (Nov. 5) goes back to the winners," Martin said. "And even though not everyone gets grant money, this will be an awesome opportunity to get connected with people who want to bring positive change to the community."