Neighborhoods are the front lines of social challenges, and 2017 has been an especially challenging year: community leaders have been called upon to respond to growing acts of violence, from an uptick in hate crimes to increasingly visible police brutality, and threats from natural disasters as climate change escalates. Yet in the face of these problems, neighbors demonstrate incredible creativity, compassion, and dedication to making their block, city, and region a better place to live.

 

2017 showed us the power of people working together to solve urgent problems. We saw neighbors organizing translation services for refugees, restoring gardens that serve as gathering places, and holding workshops to empower fellow young people. We saw neighbors working together across the country: From growing healthy food in New York and composting in New Orleans, to scaling a small business in Detroit and organizing for social justice in Cleveland, it’s clear that residents have great ideas and the local knowledge to make positive change in their neighborhoods.

 

At ioby, we are honored to work with dozens of  residents every day and to provide training, resources, and other support to make their projects a success. We know that it’s more than just money that they’re raising: it’s power, and it’s key to taking on our toughest challenges.

 

So far, ioby has helped neighborhood leaders raise more than $4 million in small donations. And because this work takes more than just money, we also help leaders recruit volunteers, grow and strengthen support networks, connect with local decision makers, and start conversations around key issues in our communities that lead to long-term, system-wide change.

 

We believe local actions—starting something, building something, or donating to something—have a real impact on places and on people’s lives. These actions, when taken together, make up a powerful movement of neighbor-led positive change that inspires hope, benefits us all, and is critical to our democracy.

 

 

Pedestrian safety and walkability are pressing issues in Boyle Heights, which is surrounded by six freeways and serves as a gateway into downtown Los Angeles. In the Pico Aliso Neighborhood, the community group Proyecto Pastoral’s Comunidad en Movimiento (CEM) aims to improve walkability and street safety, especially for children, youth, seniors, and those who rely on public transit. Acting on years of data gathering, interviews, and community-led planning, Proyecto Pastoral is now focused on developing, testing, and implementing appropriate safety improvements where they're most needed.

 

The Nature Conservancy's Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) Ambassadors are a group of high school students helping NYC residents build healthy coastal ecosystems to protect against storms and rising sea levels. On Earth Day 2017, the LEAF Ambassadors partnered with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and local residents to restore a natural storm buffer on the Rockaway Beach sand dunes in commemoration of the 5-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. By planting native shrubs and grasses, the Ambassadors and volunteers helped create a more resilient NYC coastline while engaging the community about the importance of natural buffers and coastal resilience in the context of rising sea levels and a changing climate.

 

 

Barrier Free is a socially engaged art installation designed by artist Yancy Villa-Calvo for Latino Memphis about the impact of barriers. A direct response to the Border Wall proposal and other policies that threaten to divide Latino families and vulnerable families, this piece asks residents to participate by imagining that a loved one has gone missing, and by sharing their dreams for a barrier-free world.

 

Compost NOW is a free residential food waste collection project in New Orleans. Master Composter Lynne Serpe and her team of volunteers partner with the New Orleans Public Library to build on the community library model of reuse and resource sharing in a place that's convenient to everyone, across all demographics and ages. Compost NOW raised more than $1,500 with ioby to expand to two additional sites, and help add a weekday and evening drop-off option. Their ultimate goal is to build a network of community composters in every neighborhood in New Orleans, collectively diverting tons of food waste from the landfill each month.

 

Kelly Street Garden has been a hub of healthy food and growing community in the South Bronx for over 4 years. Despite being in the poorest national congressional district and lowest-ranked county by health in New York State, the garden, mostly run by volunteers, has grown and distributed hundreds of pounds of produce to neighbors—for free—through weekly summer Farm Stands, cooking workshops, and other events. Recently, Kelly Street Garden raised nearly $5,000 on ioby as part of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge, to launch a "Garden Ambassador Program," which provided opportunities for three youth garden ambassadors to build critical urban gardening skills, deepen knowledge of urban agriculture careers, and receive $1,000 to help maintain the 2,500-square-foot growing space over the summer.

 

Cook. Eat. Talk is a program of Haven Adolescent Community Respite Center, a fledgling initiative in Jersey City, NJ, aimed at supporting adolescents and their families during times of domestic conflict. Led by a team of parents, community advocates, social workers, public safety professionals, educators, and public defenders, the center provides teens and families experiencing family conflict with community-based services when safe and appropriate and short-term voluntary residential stays when necessary as an alternative to homelessness and criminal justice involvement.

 

The Bicycle Hubitat at the San Bernardino Transit Center aims to fill in an important transit gap for commuters, especially economically disadvantaged individuals who may not have the means to acquire, repair, or maintain a bike on their own. The Hubitat, a program of Inland Empire Biking Alliance, is a do-it-yourself bicycle cooperative that provides access to tools, equipment, parts and know-how so that cyclists can get their bikes back on the road. Lights for Life is an initiative of the Bicycle Hubitat that distributes bike lights for free to cyclists using the transit hub. For those who commute in early morning and evening hours, visibility while riding can be lifesaving.

 

Dilla Youth Day is an annual event celebrating and sharing the legacy of one Detroit’s most prolific music producers, J Dilla. Piper Carter of the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop, founder and organizer of the event for six years running, talks about using hip hop to educate, inspire, and nurture youth to be passionate creators in music, technology, the arts, science and more. This year Carter raised funds on ioby to launch thestudioArena Mobile Maker Space, which combines the “genius traditions of hip hop's powerful visual, musical, and performing art forms together with the genius hackers and makers with a vision inspired by the strong spirit of invention in Detroit.

 

 

Dark Skies Over Torrey is a resident-led project to help the small community of Torrey, Utah to become the state's first dark sky community. The first stage, funded on ioby, replaced all of Torrey’s public streetlights with fully shielded, dark-sky friendly, LED lights. Subsequent phases of the project will help Torrey residents replace privately owned lights that are out of compliance with Torrey’s Dark Sky ordinance, and will launch an education program for local businesses, residents, and tourists about the benefits of dark sky lighting.

 

Working with local residents, volunteers, and youth leaders, the Association to Benefit Children has created a paradise East Harlem. Their community garden programs give children and families an opportunity to grow their own food and enjoy relaxing, volunteering, learning, and doing yoga in the garden. Finding a healthy meal and a shady tree is not easy in East Harlem, a historically marginalized community. Access to nutritious food and safe green spaces is limited in this neighborhood, where the rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease are among the highest in New York City. Part of ioby and the New York State Health Foundation's Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge, ABC crowdfunded more than $11,000 to make the garden grow in the 2017 season.

 

ioby is more than an online platform. We’re a community of neighbors leading positive change in the places we care about. Whether you’re an individual, part of a grassroots group, or a larger institution, we can help you find new donors and volunteers, learn grassroots fundraising, collect tax-deductible donations, get one-on-one technical assistance, and make personal connections to grow your network and expand your impact.