ioby is always looking for the next city where we can support more projects and St. Louis is at the top of this year’s list. St. Louisans have a lot of pride about their grassroots work being done to propel their city into an equitable future.
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 Boyle Heights’ 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.
We never get tired of hearing from campaign leaders who appreciate not just the personal crowdsourcing training, tactical support, and signature ioby love we provide, but also the legal backing that we, a fiscal sponsorship service, bring to the table. It can be really challenging and limiting for smaller groups that aren’t 501c3s themselves – gardening clubs, say, or educator collectives, or simply handfuls of neighbors coming together with a vision – to navigate the choppy fundraising seas alone. We’re proud to facilitate that process, so that they can focus on doing what they do: knowing better than anyone else what their own communities need, building that educational beehive, starting that edible community garden, creating that pop-up bike lane, etc.
Acts of creative placemaking are fabulous in every season, but they’re particularly poised to shine in the summertime, when days are long, plants are in bloom, and people are outdoors.
At ioby, our Board of Directors has long been one of our greatest resources, and it’s difficult to overstate how essential this incredible group of people has been in shaping our organization. From a leading role in establishing and embodying our mission and values, to practical and expert guidance of our tactical work in our cities of focus, it’s safe to say this is no typical nonprofit board. The bar is set high.
ioby’s Summer Party is almost upon us! (In the New York area? It’s not too late to snag a ticket to this June 21 shindig!)
We’re excited to party with ioby leaders, partners, neighbors and friends, and to celebrate all the amazing work being done in neighborhoods across the US.
We’re ESPECIALLY excited to toast the achievements of our Summer Party honorees, truly some of the most incredible people we know.
So why are we so star-struck? Keep reading!
Joyce Moore is a many-time ioby Leader who has brought art, fresh food, affordable housing, and more to her Indianapolis neighborhood through her innovative social enterprise. Joyce and her family’s passionate commitment to staying in and improving their neighborhood through decades of changes is a true inspiration to all of us at ioby. Together with her son, Justin, she co-founded Urban Patch, LLC whose goal is “To Make the American Inner City Better” by bringing the Greatest Generation ideals into the future of the American inner city community—through urban gardening, housing preservation, food justice work, education, strides forward in green infrastructure, and more.
Micah L. Sifry
Micah is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Civic Hall, as well as Co-Founder of Personal Democracy Media, which produces the annual Personal Democracy Forum conference on the ways technology is changing politics. In addition, he consults on how political organizations, campaigns, non-profits and media entities can adapt to and thrive in a networked world. Micah’s work has been foundational in the way we at ioby think about the power of technology to spark civic engagement and strengthen social movements – he’s lived, breathed, and made waves at the forefront of civic tech for decades.
Partnerships for Parks
Partnerships for Parks has enabled thousands of New Yorkers to become dedicated advocates, stewards, and organizers around parks and open spaces in the city. This joint program of NYC Parks and City Parks Foundation equips communities to take a leadership role in improving and managing some of our greatest assets: our green spaces.
By Erin Barnes
This blog is an update from the piece I wrote in October about ioby’s rationale behind, plan to develop and approach to funding an antiracism framework. You can read the original piece here.
After I published the blog, a lot of nonprofit executive directors have asked me that I “let them know how it works.” I’ve been keeping them updated informally, but I wanted to share things publicly with executive directors who I may not know.
The short version is it’s working. Since we published this piece, we changed all of our budgets to be formatted this way, and have submitted them to the following foundations, all of whom accepted this line item without question.
The Kresge Foundation
The Ford Foundation
The Summit Foundation
The Overbrook Foundation
The JPB Foundation
Saint Luke’s Foundation
The George Gund Foundation
Hyde Family Foundation
The one exception was the Ford Foundation, which recently changed its policy on indirect costs to provide a minimum of 20% on project grants. Our combined Indirect Rate… and 2% for Racial Justice was still below 20% so the Ford Foundation asked us to simply submit a flat 20%. THANK YOU, FORD FOUNDATION!!!!
So, in just three months, we have raised $10,000 for racial justice trainings. We’re only 13% of our way to our goal of $81,000, but, hey, that’s 13% further than we were in October.
I also want to acknowledge Gehl Institute, Resource Media and EcoDistricts for joining ioby in using this structure. Although we have a long way to go before nonprofits can finally cast off this burden of using ‘overhead’ to evaluate organizational effectiveness, we believe there is real urgency in funding antiracism work inside the social sector today. So, rather than wait for the social sector to reinvent itself, we’re going to make incremental change today, with the tools we have, just like ioby Leaders do in their communities every day.
Erin Barnes, co-founder and Executive Director of ioby
Have you ever wondered why we use the term “ioby Leader” to describe the people running the projects you see on our website?
If you have, you’re not alone—we get this question all the time! Here’s our thinking:
Why not… creators?
Leading an ioby project is a team effort. Individual initiative is key to making an impact, but leaders lead others! Successful ioby projects are more about getting people together than being a creative genius. (And in general we’ve found that the more people you have on your fundraising team, the more successful your project will be.)
Why not… users?
While ioby does provide an online platform for neighborhood projects, we don’t think of the people who take advantage of our resources as “users” (the way many websites do), because most of their work takes place offline, in their neighborhoods.
Why not… residents, or community members?
Everyone who lives somewhere is a resident (not all residents are “citizens,” so we also generally avoid that word). Everyone belongs to some kind of community. But a leader is someone who steps up and starts something.
We believe that everyone can contribute to the betterment of their neighborhood in some way, but ioby Leaders are the rarer birds who are driven, connected, and unafraid to ask for help or risk failure. They’re working at the vanguard of positive change.
Why not… participants, or grantees?
In the worlds of philanthropy and city government, it’s common to hear these terms, as well as phrases like “bottom-up” and “community input.” or “stakeholder outreach.” We’re wary of descriptions that paint resident leaders as low-ranking, passive consumers enjoying the fruits of benevolent decision making, or being optional voices in neighborhood planning. ioby projects are not about asking residents to rubber stamp plans that were drawn up without them; they are dynamic and neighbor-led processes that start at the beginning—with identifying problems and solutions—and they call for leadership, not just participation.
Starting to see a pattern here?
The term “leader” reinforces the agency, power, and motivation people have and need when they plant something good and see it through. To be a leader, you don’t have to have any special experience or credentials; you just have to lead.
Whether you’re thinking about starting your first project, or are a practiced hand at getting good done, we’re here to help you become a successful ioby Leader (with a capital L). Get started now: tell us your idea.
“Recipes for Change” is a new series of successful and replicable blueprints that can be applied to your ioby project. We’ve made them available to you online or in print-out form.
What are “recipes for change”?
Change requires collaborative action, time and plentiful resources. So, we’ve reached out to leaders in community organizing, advocacy, planning and other fields and asked them the need-to-know questions about getting a project off the ground. Within these how-to guides, our experts will not only cover the basics like industry standards and definitions, they will also show you how to apply these resources to leverage stakeholders or manage skeptics. These recipes provide a wealth of knowledge, alternative approaches and additional resources for your journey to making positive change in your neighborhood.
So, visit our new Recipes for Change page and explore what these experts want you to know about starting an ioby project.
Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.
Today is the United States’ first-ever National Day of Racial Healing. It’s meaningfully situated between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration of a new president whose election campaign fanned the flames of racial intolerance. It also gives all of us at ioby a good opportunity to reflect on the work we do and the people and projects we support.
We believe that the work we support in neighborhoods across the US is deeply, intrinsically linked to healing. Many of the resident leaders with whom we work live in neighborhoods that have undergone decades of structural racism and other forms of oppression, from redlining to police violence. When residents of a neighborhood like Buckeye in Cleveland, or Orange Mound in Memphis, come together to build something positive using resources from within the community, it’s both a reclaiming of power and an act of healing.
[High School students in the Heights neighborhood of Memphis work to brighten abandoned buildings as part of ioby project Community Bored Up]
Some ioby projects have an explicitly stated racial or social justice goal— Cleveland Action Legal and Jail Support, and the A Bridge That Bridges are a couple of recent examples. But overall, the more than 1,000 ioby projects show a great diversity: community gardens, prenatal yoga, protected bike lanes, Halloween parades, and little free libraries to name a few.
Although they seem to cover a lot of ground, a closer look at many of these projects reveals their commitment to addressing more deeply-rooted, systemic problems. UJIMA Refresh was started in response to the lack of access to fresh food in a Cleveland neighborhood, a direct result of decades of racist economic policy and disinvestment. The students attending Leadership Memphis Pathway to Prosperity College & Career Tours come from a county where almost half of high school grads, primarily students of color, don’t enroll in postsecondary education; their economic opportunities were systematically blocked by decades of segregation and redlining. And the list goes on.
It’s no mistake that the work of our leaders is aligned in this way; in fact, the focus on racial healing is something we as an organization are actively working to support. We have deliberately chosen to grow our presence in neighborhoods with a history of disinvestment. We believe that residents in communities like these should not have to move to live in a better neighborhood. There is already tremendous knowledge, innovation, and energy among individuals and groups who step up to lead positive change where they live. It’s our job simply to help provide the platform, training, and resources to help this work make quick, visible impacts. We believe that by partnering with neighbors who are already doing the great work of healing, we can work together to bring about positive change on the personal, local, and national level.
Especially in today’s divisive and disorienting political climate, our differences can feel greater than the commonalities that unite us, and it takes real courage to reach out to our neighbors and build something together in the spaces we share. But we believe that rooted in this effort is a transformative act of healing, and we will continue to dedicate our work to supporting it.
Do you agree? Want to lend a hand? Here are two great ways to take action:
- Search current projects on our website and help them succeed by donating a few dollars or committing to volunteer.
- If you have an idea to make your neighborhood better, tell us what it is and we’ll help you bring it to life.
- Need inspiration? Check out what the Moore family has been able to accomplish in Indianapolis.
Other amazing ioby projects working for racial justice and healing:
Saving our Sons and Daughters (project deadline March 11!)