WeWork, a provider of coworking spaces, has expanded to more than 130 locations in 14 countries around the world since its founding in 2010. Now that’s it’s reached a milestone of 100,000 members, it’s looking to give back -- and attract even more in the process.
WeWork announced yesterday the launch of its Creator Awards, a worldwide program that will grant more than $20 million -- with no strings attached -- to “creators” including individual entrepreneurs, companies, nonprofits, artists and educators across industries. Anyone can apply or nominate others for a grant, whether or not they are current WeWork members.
“Millions of creators around the world are nurturing their communities and inspiring others with work fueled by passion and purpose,” WeWork CEO Adam Neumann wrote in an announcement accompanying the launch. “Yet, there is no adequate system to recognize, reward, or support the ideas, businesses and organizations driven by creators across all fields and in all stages. We are ready to change that.”
WeWork, which had about $650 million in cash on hand in July 2016 and is valued at more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg, isn’t just doing this out of the goodness of its heart, however. It’s an opportunity for WeWork to expose potential new customers to its services. Every applicant will receive a free one-year We Membership, valued at about $540 a year, which includes $50 in monthly room-booking credits and access to the WeWork online social network.
“Of course, everything we do is always good for WeWork,” Neumann told Bloomberg. “But that’s our philosophy. We believe giving is receiving. We believe that in taking care of everyone, we’re going to take care of us.”
WeWork will grant Creator Awards in three categories: The Incubate Award, for individuals with an idea or a project that needs funding; the Launch Award, for businesses or nonprofits that have launched but are still learning; and the Scale Award, for businesses or nonprofits that have a proven record of success and are ready for the next level, according to the announcement.
Finalists for the Launch and Scale awards will pitch their ideas at a series of seven public events worldwide, beginning March 28 in Washington, D.C. (Incubate Awards will be selected from online applications.) Then on Nov. 30, the Creator Awards Global Finals will take place in Brooklyn, N.Y.In the company’s spirit of fostering community and collaboration, events will also feature opportunities for attendees to network, gather business advice, improve skills and buy and sell goods and services in pop-up markets.