Souped Up: Fort Wayne SOUP

souplogoNote from event organizers – Due to overwhelming interest in our inaugural Fort Wayne SOUP event on March 30th we must change the location from One Lucky Guitar to the Summit located at 1025 West Rudisill Blvd. The new venue can accommodate up to 240 guests. In an effort to organize and plan for dinner appropriately we ask all attendees register for the inaugural event through Eventbrite. We are grateful to One Lucky Guitar and the community for all their support. Fort Wayne SOUP is served.

Actual Soup? 

The SOUP is a micro-grant dinner that fosters community and raises funds for creative projects that enhance Fort Wayne living.  (It’s easier than it sounds!)

Here are the ingredients: Relationships. A shared meal.  Diversity. Critical dialogue. Community. Creativity. Collaboration. Democracy. Fun. Empowerment. Contribution. Action.

Join the mix at the inaugural Fort Wayne SOUP on March 30, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. at the Summit.  The suggested minimum donation is $5.  Guests receive a meal, the opportunity to hear four vibrant ideas for projects that will transform Fort Wayne, and to cast a vote to fund their favorite project.  The deadline for submitting project proposals is March 16, 2017.



The Process

Fort Wayne SOUP hosts a soup dinner (called a SOUP).  Several weeks before each SOUP, community members submit project proposals to the SOUP committee. The  projects must benefit the Fort Wayne community, but the field is otherwise open to all ideas, including art, urban agricultural, social entrepreneurship, education, technology, and more. Proposals must include a summary, proposed use of funds, an explanation of the project’s impact on Fort Wayne, and a timeline for implementation.

The committee reviews and votes on four projects to be presented at the SOUP.  The selected community members work with Fort Wayne Confluence to create dynamic four-minute presentations to pitch their proposals.

At the SOUP, attendees make an optional donation, suggested to be $5 or more, at the door. While enjoying soup, salad, and bread, they hear the four pre-selected project proposals. Each presenter fields four questions from the audience.

SOUP attendees discuss and debate the benefits of each proposal.  Each attendee votes on the project they believe will most benefit the Fort Wayne community. The project with the most votes receives all of the money collected at the door, as seed money to fund their project.  Attendees do not obtain equity or ownership in the winning project.  Winners are expected to work diligently to bring their project to life, and to attend the next scheduled SOUP and discuss their progress.


The Inspiration

SOUP arrived here via Detroit (and other SOUP’s hosted in communities worldwide), at the hands of a dedicated committee of young professionals.  After reading a magazine article about the Detroit SOUP and its transformational effect on Detroit—even during a devastating recession—Andrew Gritzmaker, Mark Green, and Kenny Walpole were inspired to gather a committee and bring the SOUP to Fort Wayne.

“We saw an opportunity to help contribute to the momentum Fort Wayne is experiencing. The heart of SOUP is community. When people come together and small projects are accomplished, a sense of potency is realized and people begin to see potential,” said Gritzmaker. He was particularly moved by a Detroit SOUP success story. A young entrepreneur pitched her idea for winter coats that unfold into sleeping bags to help Detroit’s homeless population during harsh winters. She used the SOUP-winning funds to start a business around her product, which grew to employ community members, and achieve national distribution. Gritzmaker marveled that Detroit’s SOUP had been a catalyst for helping the homeless, creating jobs, and allowing the entrepreneur to realize her potential, while creating a space for the community to discuss its challenges, collaborate, and find creative solutions.



The Vision

Fort Wayne SOUP is poised for growth.  It will hold four city-wide SOUP’s in 2017, and monthly city-wide SOUP’s for up to 250 attendees in 2018.  Eventually, it hopes to host neighborhood or zip code specific SOUP’s. Additionally, SOUP is currently seeking a fiscal partnership to enable it to accept donations that are tax deductible to the donor. It hopes to gain momentum to eventually become a free-standing 501(c)(3).

To feed this growth, SOUP welcomes in-kind donations of food and facility rentals capable of accommodating 100-250 guests, sponsorship, and event volunteers.

Gritzmaker is enthusiastic about SOUP’s potential to impact the  community. “I would love to see SOUP change the way we interact with our neighbors, with democracy and with our city. I would love for people to realize they are capable of being change agents and that small successes can one day lead to unfathomable accomplishments.”



Next Steps 

.For more information about Fort Wayne SOUP or upcoming events, to get involved, submit a project proposal, or to contribute, visit their website, follow them on Facebook, or e-mail Andrew at


Author: Hillary Knipstein

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