Meet the recipients of this year’s $50,000 Meetup Community Fund

Hear first-hand about some of the wonderful ways 2024 Community Fund award recipients are using Meetup to make an impact in their communities.

Meetup Community Fund 2024

Earlier this year, we announced the Community Fund, a new initiative to recognize how organizers have contributed to the success of the global Meetup community and help them continue to grow. We received 2,000 applications from organizers around the world—in the end, we distributed the allotted $50,000 among ninety-seven organizers. The finalists were selected based on their excellent event track record, ambitious future plans, and commitment to making their communities better in unique and exciting ways.

Unique ways of making an impact

As part of the application process, we asked organizers to share recollections of their most memorable 2023 events, their plans for 2024, and general information about what they hope to achieve with their Meetup group(s). Here are just some of the wonderful ways our award recipients are using Meetup to make an impact in their communities.

Fostering connection through shared interests…

“We have members as young as teenagers and as old as seniors. This is an amazing gift because members get to form friendships with people they would never encounter in the normal course of their lives. I’ve seen members give [and] get job advice, relationship support, medical care, you name it…Soccer is why we all get together, but after the game is over we continue to connect in so many wonderful ways.” – Feel Good Soccer (Co-ed NYC, Brooklyn, & Queens)

“Soul Song puts [the] ‘community’ in ‘community choir’. While essentially we are a place where people can come to sing, we say that people tend to both find and lose themselves in the music.” – Soul Song Brisbane Pop Choir

“[Surfing allows for] a sense of immediate bonding during the learning process. The camaraderie that we create has made lasting friendships in, and out, of the water from the first lesson, to women who are now going on travel adventures all over the world. We also [offer private] scholarship lessons for women who use this as a wellness benefit both physically and mentally to re-enter the world after a tragic event or abuse. Surfing is the perfect level playing [field] to let go, rejuvenate, and re-energize.” – Salt Water Divas A Surf Sisterhood

…and opposing viewpoints!

“There are many Meetup groups which are dedicated to bringing like-minded people together. We love those groups. But our group has the opposite purpose: It brings people together who are NOT like-minded. The group is explicitly based on bringing everybody together based on geography (living in the same area), and NOT based on sharing other traits in common.” – Tempe Neighborhood Potluck

Inspiring people to try new things

“If you’re not familiar with bluegrass jams, it is a community (not performance) music experience based in the premise that anyone – no matter what skill level – is always welcome…People repeatedly tell us how open and welcoming our jam is and that over time they have gained confidence in their playing and ability to lead songs in the group.” – Bluegrass Jams in and around NYC

“We bring people together to help care for their local neighborhood and protect the environment from litter pollution. Our cleanups are very easy to join, people do not need any prior experience or equipment, they just sign up and show up.” – Refuse Refuse – San Francisco Cleanups

“Most Wednesdays, we invite anyone to come tour the space, bring something broken to get fixed, or a project they need guidance on. One [evening], there was a quiet teen working in the loft for a long time. We asked what had brought him to the space and he said his therapist had suggested it as a safe space to be creative and practice being around others. And I have noticed often since that more vulnerable individuals will use this Meetup as a time to come in, check out that we really are a diverse, inclusive space, and then breathe a sigh of relief that they have found community.” – Decatur Makers

Building uplifting communities

“We have to mention Jamboree, which is the week-long 2SLGBTQI+ summer camp for adults that we run each year at a summer camp north of Toronto. For many of us, it is our favorite week of the year.” – Out & Out

“We were able to have members from across the US, Belize, Europe and Africa come to share writing and positive critique that is truly magical. We laughed, connected, [and] cried from relating to moving written work.” – Colors of Light, Black People Write

“Our mission is to offer a haven for women to forge connections, share wisdom, and flourish, no matter their location. We pride ourselves on a consistent and structured approach that members find reassuring and inviting, no matter which [event they attend].” – Global Women’s Empowerment Network

Actively fighting loneliness & isolation

“We believe that providing a gathering place for seniors—who are often isolated—to get together to support and uplift each other while having lively discussions (and sometimes just having fun) is a critical service…This group is incredibly supportive. Outside of our meetings, members have helped each other with home maintenance, getting around…and simply being there in times of need…” – Events For Your Spirit

“Our mission is to reduce isolation by creating welcoming spaces that support neurodiverse people to make meaningful connections with others…Our events provide just the right amount of structure and support for neurodiverse people. This allows people to be themselves, feel less alone, and build up their social networks.” – Mneurodivergent Twin Cities

“Loneliness can be especially acute during holidays when more social activity takes place. To address this, we organize special seasonal events like Easter Egg hunts, Halloween parties, and Christmas initiatives for those who may find themselves alone during these times.” – The Great Friendship Project

Creating spaces for entrepreneurship

“We have had multiple startup companies form in our group, we mentor people that go for federal grants…and most importantly people develop confidence to start projects they did not originally think they could accomplish.” – MoCo Makers

“It is difficult to overstate the impact of belonging to a thriving community of “makers”. HackPGH is a truly life-changing place where creative exploration, professional development, and socializing are actively encouraged.” – HackPGH

“We host a monthly Startup Happy Hour where entrepreneurs can gather to meet each other and to hear the story of an accomplished entrepreneur. The peer-to-peer socializing is so important as launching a company can be a lonely enterprise. It also includes an “Ask Me Anything” session where the earlier stage entrepreneurs can ask questions from the later stage entrepreneur and then apply the answers to their own business.” – StartupSac

We’re incredibly grateful for the role all organizers have played in furthering Meetup’s mission to foster genuine human connections and for sharing their successes and ambitions with us. While we weren’t able to award everyone who applied to this year’s Community Fund, we hope to find more opportunities to work with organizers in the future.❣️

Last modified on April 8, 2024