Since ioby launched in New York City in 2009, we have been a hyperlocal organization, on a mission to support neighborhood leaders and residents making positive change happen where they live. In 2012 we went national, with the idea that we could extend our services to people all over the country who have great ideas. And that’s the model that we use now – anyone from anywhere in the US can use our platform and services. However, we’ve found that we can make the most positive impact when we work closely with people and organizations who have deep local roots. In order to stay hyperlocal, we need to grow hyperlocally.
In 2014 we began working in Memphis, first partnering with the Mayor’s Office and local organizations, then hiring a Memphis-based community organizer with a long history of neighborhood leadership who could connect with change-making Memphians on a face-to-face, day-to-day basis. It was so effective to have someone on the ground that we realized this type of expansion was ioby’s future.
Now, we’re thrilled to be partnering with more local leaders around the country to bring ioby’s resources to four new cities in 2016: Detroit, Cleveland, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh. This week, we’ll tell you how we arrived at these four, and why we’re super excited to be setting up shop in each.
[ioby project Graffiti Garages at Spang Mountain]
With generous funding from the Saint Luke’s Foundation, we’ll be opening our doors in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood on March 14!
We were inspired to begin work in Cleveland by ioby board member Evelyn Burnett, Vice President of Economic Opportunity for Cleveland’s Neighborhood Progress. Evelyn’s organization does incredibly valuable work and she and her team have been instrumental in introducing us to the city and its neighborhoods.
So, how do we choose the cities we focus on, and why Cleveland? We want to work in cities that show a need for the kinds of resources we provide, but more importantly, we look for cities that have an existing “ecosystem” of citizen-led action focusing on positive change. To put it mildly, there is a lot of this happening in Cleveland. We’re incredibly impressed by the work of groups like Ohio Homecoming and organizers like Alonzo Mitchell who are working on building positive movements and promoting investment — capital, social, and civic — in Ohio communities. In short, Cleveland is changing for the better and we think ioby’s tools and resources can be valuable in the hands of people who care about this amazing city.
For the short term, we’re going to focus on the Buckeye neighborhood, a community that has faced many challenges, but has shown incredible energy and promise. One of our favorite initiatives, Sidewalks of Buckeye, shows us that the neighborhood is home to an active arts scene, a committed—though loosely-connected—group of grassroots leaders, and many residents who are interested in pedestrian improvements along the main thoroughfare.
[ioby project GardenWalk Cleveland]
We have equal enthusiasm for our excellent partners Neighborhood Connections (a small-grants program of the Cleveland Foundation), and City Repair (a program of Neighborhood Connections). ioby has hosted several grassroots crowdfunding trainings for Neighborhood Connections leaders and has supported a cohort of projects led by their grantees—all with great results.
To prepare for our rollout in Cleveland, ioby’s City Partnerships Director David Weinberger is beginning to have conversations with over 20 community leaders and will lead two workshops there in January. “We need to do this kind of hands-on research to prepare for ramping up work in a new city,” he explains. “We talk to people about what projects they’re working on, how neighbors are connecting to those projects, and see where we can be most helpful in filling in the gaps.”
Cleveland, we can’t wait to work together to bring positive change to your neighborhoods!
What you can do
-If you’re a Clevelander with a great idea for your neighborhood or your city, you don’t have to wait! Tell us your idea today and we’ll help get you started fundraising.
– With vital support from the Saint Luke’s Foundation, we’re hiring a Cleveland Action Strategist to help launch our HQ there—starting in March—and work to recruit and serve community leaders. You can help us by spreading the word to any great Clevelanders you know!
– We want to hit the ground running come March, so we’ll be hosting a series of webinars meant to inspire new ioby leaders in Cleveland to start projects, starting now! Click here for more info, days and times, and to RSVP.