Behind the scenes with AwesomeNTL

Behind the scenes with AwesomeNTL

Let’s talk Awesome Newcastle and break down what goes on behind the scenes.

Each month we get an array of amazing applications from community groups, small businesses and individuals from all over the Hunter who would like a hand (in the form of $1,000) to get their projects up and running.

As much as we’d like to help you all, we can only pick three finalists each month to pitch for a chance to win the grant. The AwesomeNTL night takes place on the last Thursday of the month at a chosen venue around our beautiful town.

So, to help you get an idea of how it all works, here is a guide to Awesome Newcastle from submission to winning and all that’s in between.

Applications: This one’s on you guys! You send us in your awesome ideas, big or small, new or old, in a simple application that asks you what your idea is, how you will use the money and a ‘get to know you’ question.

As applications come in, the AwesomeNTL custodians at The Village of Useful vote to select the month’s finalists. They look at all applications dating back 12 months – because applications never expire.

Preparation is key: Finalists are notified prior to the event with an email and call letting them know we think they’re awesome and it’s time to show us.

Our email is essentially a brief guide on the night and the three-minute presentation our finalists have to make in order to pitch for the grant.

The tips include:

  1. A time frame for each topic you are covering.
  2. Covering what your project is and the stage you are currently at.
  3. Telling us what your plan is for developing it further; give us a 2-5 year plan.
  4. Letting us know how you will use the $1,000 cash.

Our board is made up of business-minded individuals that like to know where their investment will go, so we always suggest finalists have facts and figures are on hand.

The night: AwesomeNTL has taken place at many different bars and restaurants around Newcastle, as well as being hosted by Wine Selectors one month and The Village of Useful another.

It’s always a laid back vibe and we like make sure our applicants feel comfortable. Board members and Finalists are able to grab a drink and mingle prior to kicking off.


The Board: Our Board is comprised of local business men and women from around Newcastle that believe in great ideas and giving back.

The $1,000 grant comes straight out of our Board Member’s pockets with each of them contributing $100.

In addition to the nine permanent Board Members we have a guest judge who joins us for the night.


The Pitch: After a brief introduction our finalist run the show with their three minute presentations followed by a Q&A session with our Board Members.

The questions help our Board get a greater understanding of the ‘ins and outs’ of the project.

Finalists are welcome to sit or stand, but we recommend pitching standing and then grabbing a chair to answer questions.


Decision time: Every month the Awesome Board have a hard decision in front of them as they have to choose the winner.

Anyone not on the board leaves the room while our Board Members discuss and vote on the winner.


Bring on the money: When the votes are tallied our finalists enter the room once again to find out who will be taking home the $1,000.

Our guest judge normally announces the winner who is then given the no-strings attached cash. How awesome is that!?!


The AwesomeNTL night is a fantastic opportunity for our finalists to talk to our Board Members and get advice, guidance, tips and exchange details.

You never know where the connections you make on the night may lead you.