Shared workspace pioneer WeWork made headlines earlier in the month when it announced the launch of a new series of nationwide grants dubbed the “Creator Awards.”
Beyond the sheer size of the amount of money being given away — more than $20 million — the philanthropic initiative was notable for its diversity in the type of applicants being sought out. Artists and nonprofits were encouraged to throw their hat into the ring, along with the usual mix of high-growth small businesses and technology startups.
Tuesday afternoon, WeWork chose Washington as the first stop on its seven-city 2017 Creator Awards tour. Over $1.5 million was awarded to 25 entrepreneurs from the District, Philadelphia, and Boston, with Byte Back taking home the largest check ($360,000). The local organization provides computer access and career ladder computer training to underemployed and unemployed adults.
Judges, which included area notables (Georgetown’s Jeff Reid, Halcyon’s Kate Goodall, the Entertainment Software Association’s Nika Nour) in addition to company executives, evaluated submissions across four different categories based on their current stage of progress: incubate, launch, scale, and community.
WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann was joined by D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner on-stage in formally welcoming attendees to the inaugural Creator Awards celebration.
Earlier in the day, while the judges were interviewing each applicant, guests were provided the opportunity to browse products sold by various WeWork members in a makeshift pop-up market, apply for jobs at various companies in the District, and even sit-in on two “Master Classes” taught by Sweetgreen co-founder Jonathan Neman and BYT co-founder Svetlana Legetic (the first class) and AXIOS co-founders Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei (the second class).
The Creator Awards travels to Detroit, Michigan next on May 25th, followed by a stop in Austin, Texas in June. WeWill be cheering all participants on.
This article has been updated to reflect that WeWork Chief Product Officer Dave Fano is pictured with Deputy Mayor Brian Kenner and that Kate Goodall is with Halcyon.