By Gina Martinez
Queens SOUP has found its “final four.”
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce narrowed down the community projects that will compete for up to $1,000 in funding at the 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 crowd funding model to include an in-person community dinner.
The chamber will host the SOUP event on Earth Day, April 15, at the Flushing Quaker Meeting House, located at 137-16 Northern Blvd. The event is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The crowd-funded micro-granting competition will feature a potluck dinner, workshops, fun activities and presentations by civic groups and environmentalists. Attendees pay a $5 donation fee to gain access to the potluck dinner where they eat, learn, and vote for one of four projects they think will have the biggest positive impact on their community.
The four project teams will each be given five minutes to pitch their ideas without the use of digital media, often making for engaging presentations. At the end of SOUP, the ballots are counted and the money collected at the door, as well as additional money from outside sponsors, is awarded to the project with the most votes.
The chamber believes SOUP acts as an unique networking event, connecting projects with potential community partners and volunteers regardless of whether or not they win the cash prize.
“SOUP events have taken place all over the country — increasing innovative, grassroots economic development and civic engagement,” Cody Herrman, project coordinator at the Greater Flushing organization said. “The chamber has raised nearly $2,000 for Queens-based projects through annual Queens SOUP dinners since 2016.”
The four finalists include “The Fancy Find,” an initiative that will host two community-style baby showers per year for expecting moms in Queens by partnering with established organizations and small businesses to provide essential products that will carry a baby through their first three months.
“Together We Can Community Resource Center Inc.: Youth Building Community”is a community youth group that will create a monthly youth group where kids ages 13 and up can come together at a location in Jackson Heights to meet and bond with other youth, focused on volunteering in the community and creating a community walk. “
J. Expressions’ Book Boutique and Poetic Film Showcase”is a southeast Queens-based project dedicated to promoting and cultivating the literary community in the area through DIY workshops, film screenings inspired or based on poetry with special guests and more.
Finally, “Queen Action Council: Queens Food Co-Op Research Plan” is an initiative that addresses the inequity and systemic racism that has deprived Astoria residents of access to locally sourced, fresh and affordable foods from a community-centric grocer.
Tickets for Queens SOUP can be purchased at the door or online at queen
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart