ioby friends, we have some bittersweet news to share with you: after eight years, today is our beloved colleague David Weinberger’s last day with us at ioby. We know, we almost can’t believe it either!
For many of us in the ioby community, when you hear the word “ioby,” David’s smiling face is one of the very first things you think of. Whether you know him as a cheerleader and supporter of your project from back in his days as Community Manager, or whether you’re a friend of ioby in local government or a fellow nonprofit who’s worked with him on a new collaboration, you know that David’s excitement for positive civic change easily lights up a room.
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!
Together, we’ve had front row seats to ioby’s founding and evolution. Many critical moments have changed the course of ioby’s history, none so much as ioby co-founder Brandon Whitney’s contributions.
From the very beginning, Brandon was laser focused on building an organizational culture that fit our mission. One of the most important pieces of ioby culture that Brandon created was ioby’s Whole Person Policy, which states:
Each staff member, intern, volunteer, partner, and board member brings with them a rich variety of experiences, values, hopes, inspirations, stories, and challenges. By honoring that we are “whole people,” and by drawing on our individual qualities, we are better equipped to help others succeed.
And so: We will honor the diversity within our team, and respect all individuals as equal members of a collegial community and as people with lives outside ioby. We will nurture our whole selves through pursuit of our own passions, knowledge sharing, fun, and active involvement in our communities.
Brandon, understanding that ioby was combining two worlds—grassroots activism and tech startup—both notorious for staff burnout, saw that this was a potential recipe for disaster. And so, he drew on the work of Parker Palmer and created this policy.
It has resulted in some of the most beautiful things at ioby, including a community of staff who share mutual love and respect for one another.
The 400-year story of anti-Black oppression is central to American history. It’s a story of the theft and enslavement of human beings, of repeated cycles of racist policies like Jim Crow laws, redlining and voter suppression, of the weaponizing of the criminal justice and food systems, and of informal racism that white Americans are complicit in allowing to this day. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery are a part of that story and are four among far too many Black deaths at the hands of violent law enforcement.
On May 25th, the death of George Floyd doused fuel on the embers of four centuries of inequality. Anti-Black racism is morally reprehensible, and it is not new. Racism and inequality show up in all aspects of our lives. We see it in our neighborhoods, housing, schools, businesses, food, health and transportation access. We see it in our ability to participate in civic life.
At ioby, we know that residents know what’s best for their neighborhoods. We know that low-income residents, communities of color, and especially Black residents have been intentionally excluded from decision-making in their communities. And we know that when Black entrepreneurs dream up positive change to serve the public good, they will get less than 10% of all philanthropic funding. We know this because when leaders work with ioby to raise funds for their important work, they tell us all the places that have denied them funding.
It takes powerful creativity to imagine a liberated society, and to fight for it. Black people have been doing this for 400 years. That’s why it’s important to not only fund racial justice work, but also to fund Black-led ideas. So I invite you to learn from these Black-led groups, many of whom have crowdfunded with ioby in the past and have been doing the work:
Tamir Rice Foundation is an Afro-centric center for youth in Cleveland to celebrate and learn about Black history and culture.
BlackSpace is an interdisciplinary collective who practices new ways of protecting and creating Black spaces in the built environment.
Kelly Street Garden is growing organic produce to share with residents of the Bronx, free of charge.
ATNSCis an urban retreat space in Cleveland for healing and creativity.
We Run Brownsville is a women’s running group in Brownsville, Brooklyn that promotes health and wellbeing, and encourages civic participation.
Bank Black USA is a movement to encourage all citizens to transfer their funds from mainstream banking institutions to Black banks.
Detroit Hives built Detroit’s first-ever Motor City garden where they continue to promote wellness, community engagement, and justice through organic dope honey.
Youth Design Center (formerly Made in Brownsville) is a creative agency that teaches young people in Brownsville, Brooklyn innovation, design, STEAM, and more.
Shooting Without Bulletsengages Cleveland youth through photography and artistic activism to shift policy, perspective, and culture.
Grow Brownsville has built an aquaponics farm to grow fresh organic produce for Brownsville, Brooklyn residents.
ioby must be committed to the work of anti-racism to fully honor the fact that Black Lives Matter. As a white-led, multi-racial organization, we don’t have all the answers but we’re committed to doing the work. As of June 2020, we recognize that ioby is not a fully realized antiracist organization and that the journey of becoming antiracist is a never-ending one. We have made meaningful steps toward diversity, equity, and inclusion over the years, but we all recognized that it wasn’t enough. So, last November, we began a process of creating a Racial Equity framework with our board member Nadia Owusu. We invite you to hold us accountable to our commitments here.
We stand in solidarity with the movement for Black lives. Each of us has a critically important role to play in dismantling the foundation of racism that our many institutions are built upon, and rebuilding our society together with equity at the center. Together, we can change our systems of education, health, environment, policing, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.
I write with the hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well. With the challenges that this global pandemic poses, the lives put in jeopardy and even our best-laid plans postponed, it can be a difficult time for change. But I wanted to share some important news with you: After working for over a decade to help build ioby to be where it is today, I’ll be leaving ioby this summer.
I’m confident that ioby is in more capable hands at both the board and staff levels than ever before in our history.
I believe in our mission and ability to achieve it as much as the day we founded ioby. I’ve spent the last decade of my life building this organization and it has been the greatest honor, privilege, and challenge of my career. And while this timing may feel odd right now, ioby’s Co-Founder and CEO, Erin Barnes and I have spent the last year planning this inevitable leadership transition.
I’m incredibly proud of the way ioby has responded to the pandemic’s impacts, and it’s helped me to reflect on one of the values that I think is most important to us at ioby: listening to residents and centering their voices.
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.
I wanted to share some information with you about how the rapidly unfolding situation concerning COVID-19 will impact our work together at ioby. Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our community, and we know that these will be challenging times for all of us. In order to fulfill our role in ensuring our community’s health, and in order to continue to provide support to you, we’re making a few temporary changes to our work together.
Until further notice, ioby will be transitioning ALL in-person workshops, trainings and events to an online format. This also includes all one-on-one in-person meetings.
ioby will remain open with all staff working remotely until further notice. We will continue to be ready and available to support your projects via phone, email, and online.
ioby is always looking to partner with other organizations innovating in the civic leadership world. Today, we’re proud to announce our new partnership with Sustainable CT, leading innovation in sustainability and equity work inside government.
Sustainable CT runs a voluntary certification program for municipalities in Connecticut and has been operational since 2016. The model is not unique to Connecticut: similar programs have been in place in New Jersey for 10 years and in Maryland for 8 years. We’ve been familiar with it for a long time at ioby through our work supporting Sustainable Jersey City, and lifted up their work on green infrastructure.
So, when we had the opportunity to explore an innovative new partnership with Sustainable CT, it was easy for us to imagine how we might work together. Even so, the depth of the partnership we have today was beyond the scope of our imagination and we couldn’t be more excited.
The work that neighborhood leaders do with ioby is sometimes tough to quantify.
Our work is about fighting against climate change, and creating more inclusive and equitable communities. It’s about making bringing our neighbors together and building stronger relationships between us. It’s about reinvesting in our democracy, and reimagining how we get things done together. And at the end of the day, our work is about people.
But along the way some numbers are helpful. We need to rally a certain number of neighbors to lend a hand to build a new fence for the community garden. And we need to raise a certain amount of money to buy the wood for that fence, and maybe some seeds too.
Lifelong friends Sheila Barksdale-Gordon and Dionne Grayman tapped into Brownsville’s strength and pride when they organized We Run Brownsville, a womens’ running group aimed at developing healthy habits–like going for group runs, stretching together, and sharing tips. But they’re so much more than a running club. “It’s more of a sisterhood, it’s more a place where women feel safe and feel confident take ownership of their own health,” says Sheila.
As they develop a support network within the running club, they’ve found that women are able to leverage that as they go out and advocate for their community; attending government meetings, and making sure that their voices are heard.