Category Archives: Cleveland

Six racial justice organizers real talk about burnout

This spring, we published the ioby Racial Justice Toolkit: a collection of resources designed to help anyone take action for equity, wherever they live. Have you given yourself a chance to check it out?

To complement the Toolkit, we’re highlighting some of the great racial justice initiatives taking place in Cleveland, Ohio these days, with an emphasis on the great people behind them, and some of the complexities of their work. Cleveland has a robust racial justice movement that’s rooted in many decades of history, and it’s growing stronger by the year. We’re proud to support local leaders in Cleveland as they take their city’s legacy to a new level.

Continue reading Six racial justice organizers real talk about burnout

Awesome Project: Building Tamir’s Legacy

Like many ioby Leaders, Samaria Rice didn’t always think of herself as an activist. Until a few years ago, she was a busy single mom, taking care of her kids and studying to start a career in real estate in her native Cleveland. “I was living in a bubble,” she says.

Then, on November 22, 2014, Ms. Rice’s 12-year-old son Tamir was shot and killed by Cleveland police while playing with a pellet gun outside the Cudell Recreation Center.

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Meet the ioby leaders healing Cleveland’s communities through racial justice work

Racial justice work is hard.

There are many good approaches to addressing the historical and systemic injustices faced by people of color, but they all involve difficult tasks. Whether you’re bringing community agriculture back to a marginalized neighborhood, facilitating a multicultural public art project, mounting a national educational campaign, or any other initiative, there will be personalities, logistics, and budgets to deal with. There will be difficult conservations, delays, and disappointments. Sometimes, there will be burnout.

Continue reading Meet the ioby leaders healing Cleveland’s communities through racial justice work

12 currently funding projects, led by women, on International Women’s Day!

From the Women’s March to the #metoo and #timesup movements—in the past 15 months we’ve seen many strong civic leaders step up and create grassroots movements that speak for women’s rights in all its facets.

Here at ioby, we believe that positive change starts in our backyards. Everyday we see on-the-ground women leaders combat racial injustices, advocate for bike safety, beautify public spaces, mentor young women of color, and SO much more!

Continue reading 12 currently funding projects, led by women, on International Women’s Day!

AWESOME PROJECT: A garden classroom and a space for possibility in Cleveland

Dawn Glasco, a Community Engagement Coordinator who works with children, has lived on East 76th street, Cleveland, for the past 10 years. And right outside her window, across the street from her home, all those years, had sat a large vacant lot — run down, overgrown with tall grass that the city wasn’t mowing, and littered with trash. A couple of years ago, Glasco started to feel ready to do something about it, summoned her courage, and began going door to door, asking neighbors if they’d join a group effort to beautify the street and turn the lot into an outdoor classroom. She also called the city, asked them to come and mow, and got permission to improve the lot. Glasco’s neighbors were receptive, and so was the city. For her, a door had opened.

Continue reading AWESOME PROJECT: A garden classroom and a space for possibility in Cleveland

Awesome project: A safe haven for aged-out foster kids in Cleveland

By the time Kevinee Gilmore was in college, it seemed like she really was beating all the odds. In the foster care system since she was 13, the oldest of five, she’d never expected to succeed in school, not to mention graduate from Cleveland State with a Bachelors degree in social work.

Continue reading Awesome project: A safe haven for aged-out foster kids in Cleveland

AWESOME PROJECT: Help fund the trailer for a forthcoming docu-series addressing racism in America

Reverend Leah Lewis, J.D., grew up in one of the first African American families on her block in pre-white-flight Cleveland Heights, Ohio — but lived her first decade blissfully unaware of the racism that had shaped and was shaping her country. Her family welcomed in friends from all over the world, and her neighbors, a lovely elderly couple of European decent, adored her.

Continue reading AWESOME PROJECT: Help fund the trailer for a forthcoming docu-series addressing racism in America

What we’ve learned in “Phase 0”

We suspect a very small number of people are reading this right now. If you are, you probably live in a city where ioby has an on-the-ground staff person or you are likely one of ioby’s peer organizations who have over the years asked if we would release all our “Phase 0” reports publicly. So, we went back to all the people who we interviewed to produce these reports, and asked their permission to include their quotes in these now publicly available documents.

Continue reading What we’ve learned in “Phase 0”

A Solution for Massive Federal Funding Cuts: Think Hyper-Local

[This op-ed was originally published in Planetizen.]

As concern grows over the potential loss of community development and planning funds at the federal level, Indigo Bishop writes to remind us that communities have the networks and resources to make it through periods of scarcity.

[The “A Bridge that Bridges” project used art to forge connections between Downtown Cleveland and the Cedar-Central neighborhood.]

The Trump Administration’s pledge to drastically cut federal funds for programs like HUD’s Community Development Block Grants, which provide the backbone for urban development projects from community health initiatives to streetscape improvements, has residents and community leaders of urban neighborhoods understandably on edge.

The thinking goes that without block grants and other forms of federal funding, historically disinvested and vulnerable communities will lose whatever gains they’ve made in the past decade, sliding into despair and disarray.

There is no mistaking the challenges ahead. And while it’s unconscionable that the people in power would take from those who need to give to those who have, there is a way forward for our nation’s marginalized communities: counterintuitively, it involves forgetting the Feds altogether to make local changes ourselves.

The truth is, many communities have never had the luxury of dependable funding or support from any level of government or the philanthropic sector—in fact, public policies and practices like redlining and racist policing have obstructed opportunity for generations. Instead, communities have learned to rely on neighbors, friends, and family members—growing an informal network of support and pooling resources in the face of scarcity. It’s important to remember that we’ve been helping each other for a long time.

As an Action Strategist with community crowdfunding organization ioby (or “In Our Backyards”), I see examples of this every day in the community leaders I work with in historically underserved neighborhoods across Cleveland. These community leaders find something that needs doing, and with a little coaching, help with strategic planning, and connections to an online fundraising mechanism and willing volunteers, they’re able to execute on small, meaningful improvements right in their backyards.

All sweat equity and labor of love, no federal funding necessary.

There are inspired projects led by inspiring people all around us: “A Bridge that Bridges” is helping to bridge divides, both historical and physical, between Downtown Cleveland, a historically white neighborhood, and Cedar-Central, a historically black neighborhood. By bringing neighbors together to beautify the bridge that links the two—and have difficult, important conversations about race and equality—the project literally links different communities through art.


[Artistic flourishes abound on the “A Bridge that Bridges” project.]

In the Woodland neighborhood, a grandmother and school crossing guard named Miss Lucille is taking the lead on fixing a deadly intersection for pedestrians, working with collaborators from elementary schoolers to architects.

Led by a young designer named Allison Lukacsy-Love, health-minded neighbors across the city have started a program called “Bus Stop Moves” to address two challenges: inactivity and long wait times at transit stops. Working in collaboration with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, they’re revamping bus stops into mini-gyms around the city.


[Active transportation at the Bus Stop Moves event.]

[The Bus Stop Moves event included lessons in eating healthy, too.]

As small in scale as projects like these might seem, they should give us hope in the face of a seemingly unstoppable force of chopping and cutting and shutting down. We may not be able to replace the billions on the line, but over the course of decades, we’ve learned to be nimble, pool our resources, and do a lot with a little. Our networks of mutual support are stronger than we think, and our resolve is unshakable.

We’re prepared to think creatively, support each other, and share what we have. This sense of community and creative problem solving will be key in the coming years.


Indigo Bishop, ioby’s Cleveland Action Strategist, is a certified social justice mediator and a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she studied sociology, anthropology, and social work. She has traveled to Kenya, Ecuador and the Netherlands to study nonprofit organizations, community development, and social policy.