By Gina Martinez
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is preparing for its third annual Queens SOUP fund-raising event.
Queens SOUP, inspired by Detroit SOUP, is a community potluck dinner that provides seed funding and promotion to help launch local projects that benefit the community. SOUP events have taken place all over the country as a way to increase grass-roots economic development and civic engagement by altering the crowdfunding model to include an in-person community dinner.
GFCC is inviting grass-roots groups, residents, and small businesses to submit proposals, the best of which will be selected for competition at the Queens SOUP event, scheduled for 5 p.m. April 15 at the Flushing Quaker Meeting House, located at 137-16 Northern Blvd.
John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, said SOUP brings together local residents and business owners to address community needs under the banner of self-reliance and collective action.
“By bringing SOUP to Queens, we hope to jump-start innovative, grassroot economic development and civic engagement in America’s most diverse county.” he said.
Queens SOUP has used an annual potluck dinner to raise $1,000 for Queens-based community projects since 2016. Any community initiative based in Queens can apply for a chance to win funding. The deadline is March 4, and the registration form is online at flushingchamber.nyc/soup.
Four projects will be chosen to present plans during April’s potluck dinner. The event is sponsored by local restaurants. Attendees donate $5 at the door and can eat, learn, and vote for one of the four projects they think will have the most significant impact on the community. At the end of the dinner, ballots are counted, and all the money collected at the door, plus additional money from outside sponsors, is awarded to the project with the most votes.
Last year’s winner was Lewis H. Latimer House Museum. The museum won $1,000 for its Summer Tinker Lab, a science, technology, engeering, math and arts program taught by teaching artist Karioki Crosby for local children from the Latimer Gardens Community Center. The money was used to expand access to the Tinker Lab for low-income families.
Ran Yan, program director at the Lewis H. Latimer House Museum, said Queens SOUP was a great opportunity for Latimer House to connect with its community and build relationships through a unique crowdfunding philosophy.
“The recognition coming from Queens SOUP is gratifying and motivates us to continue advancing our mission” and expand access to Tinker Lab to low-income children, Yan said.
SOUP projects can focus on a range of community needs, including arts and culture, civil rights, small-business assistance, children’s programming, neighborhood beautification, and environmental remediation.
Queens SOUP is also seeking sponsors and community partners interested in supporting grass-roots programming and civic participation throughout Queens. Those interested in sponsoring Queens SOUP, or getting involved as a community partner, can contact email@example.com.
Reach Gina Martinez by email at gmart