Big plans: Growing neighbor-led positive change in Pittsburgh!

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.

Pittsburgh Art Olympics

[Part of Pittsburgh’s Art Olympics Festival, a successful ioby project in  summer 2015.]


Now is the time,  Pittsburgh is the place

The timing couldn’t be better: following super-successful partnerships with Pittsburgh-based organizations The Sprout Fund and GTECH Strategies (Growth Through Energy + Community Health), we feel primed to take a deeper dive into Pittsburgh. So far, ioby has already directed more than $25,000 in citizen philanthropy to 17 projects in Pittsburgh.

“There’s so much great energy in Pittsburgh right now, so much creativity,” says David Weinberger, ioby’s City Partnerships Director. “Throughout our work with them, The Sprout Fund and GTECH have both been such inspiring partners, and we’ve been totally impressed with the ideas, energy, and dedication they’ve brought to their work, particularly around CSOs [combined sewer overflows] and clean water, conservation, and creating walkable and bikeable streets. Their work really aligns with our guiding principle of neighbor-led change.”


Building Resilience in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods

ioby is a platform partner for 100 Resilient Cities (the Rockefeller Foundation initiative to help cities around the world become more resilient to upcoming physical, social, and economic challenges). We think connecting neighbors through fundraising and “quick wins” can go a long way to building overall resiliency. To withstand a storm—or an economic downturn—it can really help to draw on place-based “weak ties,” and “ioby can play a great role in making those connections,” David says.


Doing our homework to make a greater impact

As with each new city we’re rolling into, we took a very methodical approach to Pittsburgh. It started with extensive research into the existing civic landscape (consisting largely of conversations with scores of local leaders), followed by a thoughtful analysis of that data (in what neighborhoods do people already know each other and work together? Where are ties stronger and where are they weaker? How connected are civic leaders to services they could use?), that resulted in a tailored launch plan.

“We look at our findings and think of all the ways ioby could help address shortcomings in partnership with local organizations,” David explains. “We also think about how can we plug our new staff members into the community: can they sit in on a staff meeting at a partner organization once a month? Could they attend a CDC’s capacity-building workshop for local leaders? There are so many ways to get acquainted.”


What you can do

– We’re hiring a Pittsburgh 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 Pittsburghers 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 Pittsburgh to start projects, starting now! Click here for more info, days and times, and to RSVP.

Browse some of our favorite Pittsburgh-based projects, past and present. Make a donation to a Pittsburgh neighborhood today!

*In addition to Sprout Fund and GTECH, we’re excited to work with existing groups like PCRG, Neighborworks, Neighborhood Allies and other organizations. Funding for our March opening is still pending, and we’ll announce updated plans here, so stay tuned for updates as they come.