3 crowdfunding projects that honor Black History Month, plus 3 tips to start your own project!

As we celebrate Black History Month this February at ioby, we want to celebrate the fact that Black History is a living history. It’s something to look back on to learn from and take pride in, but it’s also something that lives today—something to build on and to grow. Something that’s happening right now! Our neighbors are showing us the way to do that. 

This year, we want to lift up the incredible work that neighbors are doing to honor Black history, celebrate Black culture and Black people, and fight back against anti-black racism. We’ve highlighted a few projects that are working to strengthen bonds in their neighborhoods and that are moving us all toward a more just world. Many of them are still crowdfunding, too! If you’re feeling inspired, we’ve also pulled together a few of our best tips for starting your own project that fights for racial justice.

Black history month ioby
Syreeta Gordon is raising funds for the next step of Unshakeable Motherhood, a project in Pittsburgh aimed at tackling racial disparities in maternal health.

1. Unshakeable Motherhood, currently raising $3,129

“All you have to do is Google ‘Black maternal health,’ and you’ll see that a lot of Black women are dying in childbirth,” Syreeta Gordon says. “It’s a big problem, and it’s an important public health problem.” With Unshakeable Motherhood, Syreeta wants to tackle disproportionate health outcomes for Black mothers by cultivating a space where moms can be comforted, supported, and encouraged during their pregnancies.  In addition to fostering a strong community of diverse women who can rely on one another, Syreeta wants to provide training for moms and moms-to-be. Her first campaign with us raised $1,493 to fund two scholarships for aspiring doula’s, and to host an Unshakeable Motherhood event,  and her current project plans to fund a retreat of seminars, mini-classes, and other educational opportunities for expecting mothers.

2. Great Lakes African American Writers Conference & Youth Poetry Slam, currently raising $10,345

Being a writer is tough. But books are a critical way culture, and young reading minds, are shaped. The Great Lakes African American Writers Conference & Youth Poetry Slam wants to make it a little easier for Black writers to practice their craft by offering an opportunity to learn skills from industry professionals, and network with other writers in the region. It’s free to attend, and after a successful conference in 2018 and 2019, they’re back to crowdfund for their 2020 conference—this time featuring a Youth Poetry Slam! 

Black history month ioby
Leah Lewis is crowdfunding for the 2020 Great Lakes African American Writers Conference & Youth Poetry Slam, her third conference lifting up Black writers and writers to be!

3. Cle 4 Me Tours, currently raising $13,734

We admire Shana, the leader behind Cle 4 Me Tours, for many reasons—including her passion for sharing her city of Cleveland with tourists and locals alike. She started her collaborative blog, Black Girl in the CLE, in part because she knows that the presence of Black Clevelanders matters. “As Cleveland grows, new entertainment districts and events are coming and the only way to ensure that we weren’t closed out or overlooked was to make sure that we showed up,” she says. Now, CLE 4 Me Tours is crowdfunding to offer engaging tours that honor and celebrate the Black experience in Cleveland.

There are so many other examples of neighbors fighting for racial justice and honoring Black history, but we wanted to turn to you and ask—what great idea to do you have? Here are three things you can do to help develop and organize your own project for Black History Month (or any other month!).

1. Do your homework.

In order to serve your community, you should know your community. Leah Lewis, the Leader of X’s and O’s of Race/ism and the Great Lakes African American Writers Conference, advises neighborhood leaders to do as much research as possible. This research can include reading books or articles in addition to talking with stakeholders. Lewis also recommends going deeper than just engaging in casual conversation and “forging relationships that can be beneficial to the cause, but also personally.” 

Black history month ioby
Neighbors at A Bridge that Bridges painting session. Gwen and Kaela worked together to host community conversations tackling race and racism, then hosted community painting sessions to symbolically bridge divides.

2. Know what you don’t know. 

Once you’ve done your homework and laid the groundwork for your project, take a pause to remember that you don’t—and can’t!—know everything. That’s ok! “Be able to acknowledge that when you’re in your group and you’re facilitating or you’re working with people–you’re gonna have to look some things up. You’re gonna have to learn as you go sometimes,” says Kaela Geschke, who led A Bridge that Bridges in Cleveland with her friend Gwen Garth. “You also have to not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know everything, let’s learn this together.’ You have to stay humble,” Gwen says. At ioby, we know there’s power in harnessing community input as you work towards getting good done in your neighborhood. The more help you seek and the more voices you listen to, the better your chances of designing a project that truly meets the needs of your community.

3. Don’t Go it Alone.

Remember the old saying, “There’s strength in numbers”? Indigo Bishop, ioby’s former Cleveland Action Strategist (we miss you Indigo!), agrees. “There are likely many, many hundreds of people who are invested in the same thing that you are. It’s a matter of finding them and finding out where they get together,” she says. Find out where these people meet, whether it be “officially” (such as homeowners’ association meetings) or “unofficially” (such as when picking up the kids from school), and join in the conversation. A wider network is a richer network, and teaming up with others can help you access more resources than you might be able to on your own. 

Inspired by these neighbor leaders and want to know more? We want to help! Share your idea with us, and we’ll help you craft a plan to crowdfund the money you need to bring your great art education idea to life. If you’re looking for even more advice and tips from neighbors who have been in your shoes before, download our free racial justice toolkit.





Awesome Project: Remember (Y)our Connection/Tandaan Ang Ating Ugnayan

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Queens without evoking that perhaps overused, but true, aphorism that Queens is the crossroads of the world. Over half of Queens’ population speaks a mother tongue other than English—over 130 languages—and it even holds an entry in Guinness for “most ethnically diverse urban area on the planet.” 

“My parents migrated [from the Philippines] before I was born,” Cecilia Lim, a 20-year resident of Queens, says. “There’s a big Filipino community in Woodside, and I love getting to hear Tagalog almost every day, and hear all the other languages, and see people practicing their cultural ways of living: the way they dress, the food they prepare and offer to the community.”

Here amidst the hustle and bustle of this vast metropolis-within-a-metropolis, beneath the click-clack of the subway and the clamor of people, is where Cecilia thinks a key part of the solution to the climate crisis lives. 

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6 Bold Art Education Ideas To Brighten Your Community

Art has a way of making a splash and bringing people together. When folks dedicate themselves to bringing a personal touch to a part of their neighborhood, it makes a place feel more like home. Public art can have a big impact on the people who make it as well as everyone who gets to experience a completed art project. Working together on a public project can help strengthen neighborhood bonds to each other, and to the physical place they share. 

What is art education?

Art education is about learning and practicing new creative skills. These can be visual skills, like painting or drawing, as well as music, writing, dancing, even designing computer games. Art education can take place in a school or in organized programs led by professional artists, but you don’t have to be in a classroom to learn creative skills that help you express yourself better, explore your own ideas, and create art! 

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Giving Report 2019: The year in positive change

This past year has been incredible for our neighbors and for ioby. To date, thousands of neighbors have raised over $7 million to make positive change across the country, and brought to life hundreds of projects that make our neighborhoods more sustainable, more just, and more awesome. They show that there’s great power in the simple act of coming together to confront a common problem. In overcoming differences and challenges, our neighbors are forging a new, more inclusive future with ioby. That’s nothing short of transformative. As 2019 comes to a close, we wanted to take a look back and celebrate all the incredible work our communities did together. Check out our 2019 Giving Report to see the story of the neighborhood, of kindling the flame of our democracy, and of getting good done.

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Beyond volunteering and voting: 4 ways to boost community involvement

If you’re like us, community is important to you. The neighbors you see every day, the folks you work with, the groups you’re a part of shape who you are and where you live. Maintaining those bonds and making sure our neighborhoods are strong, welcoming, and enjoyable places to be takes some work. But you might be wondering how to get involved in your community beyond simply volunteering and voting? We’ve got your back. Check out our step-by-step guide to getting involved in your community in deep ways, and find out what kind of project you could make a difference in your neighborhood. 

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Awesome Project: Clevelanders for Public Transit

By some measures Cleveland has one of the most expensive transit fares in the country. Even so, in 2015 the Regional Transit Authority—the agency in charge of Cleveland’s public transit system—proposed a 25-cent fare hike along with a 1.3% reduction in service. It was the latest in a series of tightening squeezes on riders to plug a yearslong decline in public funding for the system. “Since 2005 our transit fares have doubled while bus service has been cut by over 25%,” Chris Stocking, the treasurer and co-founder of Clevelanders for Public Transit, said. “Clevelanders are paying more and more for less and less service. We basically just said enough is enough.”

Around the same time of the fare hike proposal, funding for a collaborative that had been advocating for public transit alongside a slate of other environmental justice issues had run dry. That left a potential gap just as riders needed advocates most. So Chris and a group of volunteers decided to step up to keep fighting for public transit, bringing to life Clevelanders for Public Transit (CPT)

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Year end giving: How to raise funds with an impactful campaign

It’s pretty hard to top the warm fuzzy feelings you get when donating to a group or cause you care about, and it’s a feeling that pretty much everyone is chasing at the end of the year. Maybe the cold winter weather makes charitable giving feel even warmer, or maybe people just want to end the year and ring in the new one on a positive note. Whatever the reason the numbers are pretty clear: 31% of giving happens in the month of December, and in just the last three days of the year 12% of all charitable giving occur. Even in the lead up to the holidays, from October to the end of the year, 50% of nonprofits receive most of their annual donations. That means that if you’re looking to raise money, the sooner you start planning for year-end giving, the better!

Whether you’re looking to raise money for a nonprofit organization, an issue, or for a community project, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to ramp up and connect with folks to participate in your year-end giving campaign. Pull your team together and follow these simple steps to design a year-end giving campaign that hits your fundraising goals and help you get good done!

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5 Art Therapy Project Ideas To Make Art With Heart

Art therapy is about giving your mental health a boost, while working on a craft. Creative work often helps folks relax and destress, and gain insight into their own lives. Engaging in an art therapy project in a group can give your community the chance to express ideas or access feelings that might not be easy to talk about, or may not be front and center in your regular lives. Starting an art therapy project not only allows your community to work together creatively, it can also help you build a stronger, healthier community.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is essentially classic therapy mixed with a form of visual art. Art therapists are often trained, credentialed therapists who use creative work to help people heal and learn more about themselves. It can be a powerful way of digging deeper, and reflecting on what our minds are telling us.

But even if you aren’t a trained art therapist or aren’t working with one, you can still start an art therapy project to bring the benefits to your neighborhood! Projects that engage people in creative expression can be an accessible way to work through emotional struggles, learn useful skills, and work toward a new future. What’s more, health—and mental health—doesn’t just happen in a doctor’s office or a therapy session. It happens all around us, with the people we interact with every day, and there are lots of ways you can work with your community to boost health. 

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Getting good done in Cleveland: Over $180,000 raised with matches

It’s still September but we’re ready to say that this was one of our best years yet in Cleveland. Really! All across the city, neighbors proved what we’ve long known—when you set out to get good done, Clevelanders are ready to lend you a hand. 

Earlier this year we launched three crowdfunding matches—the Common Ground match with support from The Cleveland Foundation and Neighborhood Connections, the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Match Fund with support from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, and the Racial Equity Matching Fund with support from Neighborhood Connections. With ioby’s match fund opportunities, resident donations on ioby.org are matched dollar for dollar, helping to grow neighbor’s impact even further. We closed out all three matches last month, and all told neighbors have crowdfunded over $180,000 together to fight for racial justice, bring art and cultural opportunities to the neighborhood, bridge divides to strengthen our communities, and grow our movement for positive civic change. 

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Artists Lead! A new opportunity for changemaking through art

We’re excited to announce the Artists Lead! match program. ioby has partnered with our friends at ArtPlace America to support artist-led projects that create community change. Through Artists Lead!, artists using their skills to address local community issues can access up to $15,000 in match funds for every dollar raised through their ioby crowdfunding campaign. 

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