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Funding your wild passion projects...
Australia / New Zealand

About Protostars

We're giving young people $1k for their passion projects! We're looking for the wildest hearts with the wildest ideas and projects. In the past, we've funded diverse projects that include: a community garden, a metaverse art exhibition, art curation apps, a travelling STEM roadshow, a sustainable go-kart build, haptic feedback VR gloves, battle bot builds, a queer comedy show, an underground arts zine and more!

The Program
Protostars is a microgrant program where we give you $1k to work on your passion projects. But it's more than just a grant, Protostars is also a community.
When you become a Protostar, you will join a cohort of other next-gen worldbuilders, creatives, visionaries and innovators. Over the course of 10 weeks, you'll breathe life into your passion projects, come to weekly catchups, share your progress, learn from one another, and build lifelong relationships. At the end of the program, we celebrate our passion projects in an end-of-cohort virtual showcase!
That's not all though, once you're a Protostar, you'll get ongoing access to exclusive learning, funding and networking opportunities.

> You are aged 16-25 (U18's must have permission from a parent or guardian)
> You are based in Australia or New Zealand
> You have a passion project

Blast from the Past: What our alumni think about Protostars
"I'm so glad to have this group to belong to and share our successes and not-so-successful moments too. I love reading about all your wonderful projects and my heart is so full knowing the beautiful and marvellous [stuff] everyone is getting up to! So freaking inspiring!"
"The best thing about Protostars is meeting a group of young people with similar crazy ambitions and seeing everyone's projects come to life!"
"I've never found quite a community that inspires me so much and pushes me to do my best. My two passions have never been more united and flared up as they have recently due to working on my project so much. Thank you for that!"



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How long does the cohort go for and whats involved?

The cohort goes for 10 weeks.

It’s designed to be fairly light but with enough content to help us build community, and complete our projects. Typically we will meet once a week via Zoom. And we share project updates weekly via our group chat.

The more you put in the more you’ll get out of it but also we understand life is busy and everyone will be able to participate in whatever way suits them. We understand that this is a side project and that you have other priorities in life.

What Protostars is not is a highly structured learning program. While we do offer learning content and modules, the program is not built around this. At Protostars we focus on relationships and building confidence through community and creativity. Homework and learning tasks completed outside of our weekly catchups aren't our vibe.

What sorts of projects have you funded in the past?

All sorts! Artists, activists, scientists, poets, theatre makers, toy designers, engineers. You can check out a list of the projects we funded from Season 1 and Season 2. And you can have at look at the exhibitions we put together for Season 1 and Season 2.

When do applications open? When do they close?

Applications for Protostars Season 5 will open on Friday 14 July and close at 11:59 PM on Sunday 6 August.

What is the application process?

There are two rounds to the application process.

Applications typically stay open for 4-5 weeks, and the judging and selection process can take up to 4 weeks.

There are two rounds to the application.

In Round 1, you will submit a written application where we ask about you, your passion project, and how you might contribute to the Protostars community. This is a mix of multiple-choice and short and long-answer questions. In total, we estimate that Round 1 applications should take around 30 minutes to complete and submit.

If you are successful in Round 1, you will progress through to Round 2.

Round 2 is where you submit a video application.

It’s pretty simple: you just have to film and submit a short 1-minute video explaining what your project is, why you’re passionate about it, and a little bit about yourself. This is where we want to get to know your personality and who you are!

Once Round 2 submissions close, all applications will be judged and assessed by a judging committee comprising of Blackbird and Startmate team members, and Protostars alumni.

Who can enter?

The grants are available to young people aged between 16-25 based in New Zealand or Australia with a creative project in mind.

Are there any other conditions?

If you get awarded the grant, you agree to share at least three progress updates at a minimum with Blackbird. You will be expected to participate in the program, but how much time you commit is up to you.

What kinds of projects can be submitted?

You can apply with any type of project; we are particularly interested in supporting projects that are unique, personally meaningful, and can reach a defined milestone in the next 3-6 months.

Apply Now

Season 5 Applications open on Friday 14 July!