Once a year the Seed Award program focuses on small project requests of up to $1,000 to promote innovation at the grassroots. Applicants are encouraged to use this opportunity to try out creative ideas that raise awareness about new community projects, events, and activities; engage people in taking an active role in the civic life of their community; and provide opportunities for motivated community members to assume leadership roles.

Similar to previous years, there was an abundance of civic leaders looking to engage the community in new and innovative ways for the 2016 Grand Ideas $1,000 Seed Award round. The Sprout Fund is pleased to announce the 16 projects that are recommended to receive funding.

Beechview Community Greenspace from Pretty Up Beechview is a project to transform a vacant lot into a public green space for Beechview residents to come together for community events and performances. The lot will celebrate the diverse cultures in Beechview, working to break down barriers among residents. (For more information on the project, visit www.prettyupbeechview.wixsite.com)

Beloved Communities:  Holding Space. Spreading Love. Building Community. from The Learning Instigator is a project to design, create, and wear conversation-sparking t-shirts that promote a model for compassionate discourse on contentious topics. A project website will be used to document, promote, and share the activities with the broader Pittsburgh community.

Boys Build from The Flower House is a project that introduces a new generation to hands-on learning through building. The program will encourage young men from Bloomfield and Garfield to learn about the natural and human-made worlds that surround them while using a variety of tools and materials. The youth will work alongside male mentors who will emphasize the importance of safety, respect, and creativity.

Coloring to Combat PTSD from No Crayon Left Behind is a project to create a PTSD-relieving coloring book that is made by veterans for veterans. A call will be used to acquire the drawings used for the coloring books, which will be supplemented with workshops to get to know the veterans who are designing the coloring pages and sorting crayons to be distributed with the coloring books. (For more information on the project, visit www.facebook.com/ColoringtoCombatPTSD)

Dig the Graves from Green Burial Pittsburgh is a project to educate people about death and dying by giving them the opportunity to dig a grave as a way to participate in end of life rituals. The project aims to engage participants in a meaningful way around questions of life so they can help to reshape the way that we as a community experience and communicate about death and dying.

LISTEN UP! Pittsburgh Neighborhood Debate Classic from Minor Victories is a debate program that promotes critical exchange and analysis of thoughts in economically disadvantaged communities in Pittsburgh. The project aims to empower members of these communities through the agency and critical thinking needed to analyze problems and solutions in debate format, so that residents can use these skillsets to address issues in their own communities. (For more information on the project, visit www.minorvictories.org)

Mental Illness Spotlight from Inside Our Minds is a project to fight the stigma of mental illness by featuring the stories of people with various mental health diagnoses on a podcast and at an open mic night. Participants will be asked to share their personal experiences, helping to educate community members and debunk stereotypes. (For more information on the project, visit www.insideourminds.org)

Our Path Unveiling from Allegheny Land Trust is a community event to celebrate the installation of Allegheny Land Trust’s first nature-inspired sculpture built by Jim West on Sycamore Island in the Allegheny River near Blawnox. The project aims to inspire visitors to build a community that values the protection and responsible use of green spaces while also offering a new lens for the community to see the possibilities of collaborations in the world of conservation. (For more information on the project, visit www.alleghenylandtrust.org)

Our Rhythm Panel Series from Our Rhythm is a discussion series centered around the topic of social change through music, culture, and race. Reflecting on the documentary film in progress, the panel discussions will look at how music plays a role in breaking barriers of personal, interpersonal, and cross-cultural fears and prejudice. (For more information on the project, visit www.ourrhythm.net)

Petticoat Rule from Independent Project Manager Erika Laing is a podcast that focuses on women involved in music in the Pittsburgh region. The podcast will feature dialogue and content concentrating on the dynamics of the creative process and habits for successful productivity. While the guests will all be female, the bulk of the content will be intentionally gender-bias free, speaking to topics that affect any person working or seeking work in music. (For more information on the project, visit www.petticoatrule.net)

Pittsburgh Climate Change Crankie from Independent Project Manager Katy DeMent is a manually-powered paper panoramic illustration that tells the story of Pittsburgh’s environmental evolution. The crankie will help to start community conversations about Pittsburgh’s industrial history, its environmental legacy, and the community’s role in making improvements for the future through performances accompanied by hands-on artmaking activities for all ages.

Pittsburgh Women MAKE it from Independent Project Manager Rachel Saul Rearick is a project that highlights women makers and artists in the Pittsburgh region, sharing their work and stories through a blog, a printed publication, and a networking event to help promote their work to the broader community. A community process will be used to choose the first cohort of women featured. (For more information on the project, visit pghwomenmakeit.blogspot.com)

Queer Caribbean Literature Series from The Black Unicorn Library and Archives Project is a series of outreach events related to a six-month installation of the Black Unicorn Library and Archives Project in Allentown. The literature series will feature guest authors and reading discussions to promote literacy as a pathway for LGBTQ women of color to connect and become empowered in a safe space. The collection will also facilitate scholarly inquiry and understanding of the black and LGBTQ communities. (For more information on the project, visit www.bekezelamguni.com)

The John Show from Independent Project Manager Julie Sokolow is a series of screenings of the documentary The John Show with corresponding speaker panels as a platform for discussion of mental health. The panel will use art and conversation to provide insight into the documentary and the related mental health issues it addresses. (For more information on the project, visit www.juliesokolow.com/The-John-Show)

The Relief – TV Talk Show from Independent Project Manager Lueana Coward is a community-informed talk show featuring guests who have lost loved ones to violence. As a way to help other people suffering, the show will look at different ways to cope with loss by talking to people who have had to go through the grief process themselves.

Walk on By from Northside Common Ministries is an art exhibit at Future Tenant featuring work by local artists responding to the topic of homelessness in Pittsburgh. The exhibit aims to make people more comfortable with interacting with the homeless, helping them recognize the “humanity” of those facing the many forms of homelessness.