I can’t describe how meaningful it is to be an Obama Fellow and learn from President and Mrs. Obama in these tumultuous times. The protests in support of the movement for Black lives have been incredibly inspiring, even as the state repression that follows is horrifying. It’s laid bare the brutality of our racist system, but it’s also reminded many of us that racism permeates deeper than our police and criminal justice system; we see it in our housing, our parks, our schools, our neighborhoods, and our healthcare system.
With this national uprising in mind it was a tremendous honor to be able to ask Mrs. Obama last week the question that is most on my mind right now, and perhaps on many of yours, too: How can we use this moment when so many of our eyes are wide open to fight for racial justice in all aspects of our lives?
Are you looking for a way to help your neighbors, but not sure where to begin? Figuring out what your community needs might sound like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be–we promise! At ioby, we believe in the power of everyday folks (just like you) doing small things to create big change. That’s why we’re here to support you at every step along the way!
Recently, we interviewed some ioby neighbor leaders about how they organized for change in response to COVID-19—check out the full webinar here—and they had valuable insights to share. We’ve incorporated some of their lessons into three different approaches you can take to determine what your community needs right now. While all of these are important parts of the process, any of them makes a great first step!
Hey, neighbor! We just wanted to say, we see you and we see the hard work you’re doing.We see you adjusting to a new way of life. We see you stepping up and serving your communities. And we see your work to ensure that your homes, your families, and your neighborhoods are safe and healthy in the midst of the changes brought on by COVID-19.
Since COVID-19 has altered the way we interact with one another, we know that many of you may be looking for ways to continue (or expand!) the great work your group or nonprofit is already doing. We’re here to share with you: all it takes is a little thoughtfulness and creativity! We’ve got a few suggestions of some small, social-distancing-friendly changes you can make to your community project, as well as some examples of ioby leaders who have used crowdfunding to pivot their fundraising strategy.
Today, we want to celebrate those special neighbors. You know who we’re talking about. In fact, you’re probably one of them! They’re the changemakers. The movers and shakers. The unofficial mayors of the block. Got an issue in the neighborhood? They know what to do, and they’re ready to help.
They’re the everyday folks who’ve raised over $10 million dollars on ioby to make positive change, and they’re just getting started! That’s right–neighbors like you have raised over $10,000,000 on ioby.
That’s a lot of zeros! We’re so incredibly excited to celebrate this milestone with you today, and we’re even more excited to see what you will get done next. We rounded up below just a few of the campaigns that brought us to $10 million dollars. Check them out, then, start your own project!
Even though the spread of COVID-19 has slowed in some parts of the country, the crisis is far from over. Some states are seeing a rise in cases, and we’re all facing challenges as we adapt to a new way of life. Whether we are able to stay healthy depends on several factors, including access to public health information, the availability of medical care, and the quality of the food we’re eating. The reality is that many of our neighbors, particularly in underserved communities, are unable to access the resources they need to take care of themselves and their families.
In times of crisis, we know that our neighbors are some of the most reliable folks we can turn to for help. As we continue to face multiple challenges, neighbors are stepping up all across the country to lend a hand—and a familiar face. How will you step up to give your neighbors a boost? We’ve rounded up a few examples of how ioby leaders are organizing for change right now. Get inspired, then, start your own project!
Here are some ways that changemakers like you are making an impact:
It’s no secret that much of life as we know it has been altered by COVID-19. But even in the midst of uncertainty, one thing has remained the same: our neighbors’ commitment to supporting one another. We’re inspired by the powerful stories of people just like you who are putting together care packages, writing letters to fight isolation, organizing mutual aid to support each other, and finding other ways to share their strengths when and where they can. They show that even in these times, we’ll need to rely on one another more than ever before.
So, how might you do that? With many of our original plans and projects on hold, how do we continue to offer care and strengthen our communities? You’re an expert on your own neighborhood, and you probably know best what kind of support your neighbors need. But one powerful and uniquely suited way to keep an eye out for one another is to start a mutual aid project.
Taking a look at the news, and in our communities around us, there’s no doubt that there are lots of clouds overhead. But there are also lots and lots of silver lining—and they’re helping to lighting up the sky with hope! We’re so inspired by the heartwarming stories of people who are giving their time and resources to uplift others. Students are translating COVID-19 information, people are hosting birthday parades, and robotics teams are helping kids stay active. Each story is different, but their message is the same: we’re all in this together. People are looking for ways to help, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Many project leaders are turning to crowdfunding to finance the great work they’re doing and to help fund and provide support to each other in the wake of COVID-19. If you’re looking to make a difference by donating to a grassroots effort, ioby is a great place to start! We rounded up a few places to give you a head start in exploring, and supporting, neighbors that are making a difference in neighborhoods across the country.
We’ve come a long way as an ioby community in the last decade. We’ve opened up offices in Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Memphis; served thousands of neighbors as they organized their communities; and raised nearly $10 million from everyday people like you. We’re so pleased to announce an exciting new chapter as we open our first-ever office in Cincinnati.
As we shared in our Phase 0 process, we’ve spent quite a bit of time learning from and being in community with Cincinnatians. “Cincinnati’s civic infrastructure is strong and getting stronger,” our colleague David, Director of City Partnerships, shared after wrapping up his time in Cincinnati to learn from our neighbors there. “There’s a large and growing community of people and organizations who are hard at work, delivering timely and powerful resources to neighborhood leaders, artists, and placemakers.” All across the seven hills, neighbors are full of creative ideas to make positive change. We’re so excited to join Cincinnati’s vibrant civic community and be a part of the good works that neighbors are getting done!
In the coming months, we’ll have more to share with you as we roll out new events and programs in Cincinnati (all online, for now). But right now, we wanted to introduce you to Leslie Rich—our very first City Action Strategist in the Queen City. Read on to get to know her better. We can’t wait to start working with you, Cincinnati.
We hope you’re able to find some peace in the midst of these challenging times.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen so many everyday people all across the country organize to support their neighbors and care for front-line medical workers in their community. It’s been heartening to see these generous acts of care, and we hope they’ve lifted your spirits too. As more and more neighbors continue to step up to take action we wanted to share a new opportunity to support COVID-19 response efforts in your own community.
Women’s History Month is special to us here at ioby. For one thing, roughly two-thirds of ioby leaders and supporters, the folks who dream up big ideas and the neighbors who help bring them to life, are women! And for another, fighting against sexism is an important value to us, and it’s important to the many ioby leaders who are working to shape women’s history today. It’s a key part of the lens through which we see our work; a lens that looks keenly towards an expansive and intersectional vision of justice.
Honoring Women’s History Month to us is as much about celebrating the good as it is about continuing the struggle against sexism, so we wanted to share six ioby project leaders who are organizing their communities for gender justice. Many of them are still fundraising; we hope you’ll take the time to learn more about what these remarkable women are doing to get good done, and maybe consider donating to help them achieve their goals!