Category Archives: News

Cheers to $5 million worth of neighborhood change

You might have noticed that we say “neighbors” a lot here at ioby, often interchangeably with “residents.” To us, “neighbors” means experts; it means the people who know their community best because they live in it, work in it, and play in it. They know how the block was, how it is now, and how it could be to better serve everyone in the neighborhood. They are our guiding stars and the people who shape what we do. After all, who better to turn to than the experts?

Today, we’re excited to announce that the work of all our expert change makers led up to something pretty big this month: with a median donation of just $35, 1,600 leaders rallied thousands of their friends, neighbors, and families to give over $5 million to community-led change since ioby got started. Continue reading Cheers to $5 million worth of neighborhood change

The Powerful Work is Local

By ioby Co-Founder Erin Barnes

Over the last ten years, I’ve had the privilege of leading ioby’s growth hand-in-hand with my co-founder Brandon Whitney, our Board of Directors and our incredible staff. During this time we’ve served as a platform, a resource, a convener, and a community for more than 15,000 resident leaders across the country. And we’ve shared in their struggles and their victories. We’ve been with them in solidarity as kids learned how to ride bikes, as vegetables grew, as roofs got repaired, as students got new backpacks in September, as libraries went mobile, as hammers and drills were shared, as crosswalks were painted, as murals went up, as tampons were given away, as community histories were spotlighted, and as statues came down. More than 1,500 projects have been implemented, and with every single one, we have always known, “This is important.”

Continue reading The Powerful Work is Local

Obama Foundation Honors ioby!

We were thrilled and deeply honored to hear the Obama Foundation’s announcement today that our Co-Founder Erin Barnes is among the inaugural class of 20 Fellows!

This is an institution that clearly shares ioby’s belief that local, grassroots civic leadership is the foundation of our democracy.

A message of thanks from Erin:



12 currently funding projects, led by women, on International Women’s Day!

From the Women’s March to the #metoo and #timesup movements—in the past 15 months we’ve seen many strong civic leaders step up and create grassroots movements that speak for women’s rights in all its facets.

Here at ioby, we believe that positive change starts in our backyards. Everyday we see on-the-ground women leaders combat racial injustices, advocate for bike safety, beautify public spaces, mentor young women of color, and SO much more!

Continue reading 12 currently funding projects, led by women, on International Women’s Day!

Thank you for the strength, positivity, and hope this year.

To our ioby community:

It’s no secret that 2017 has been a difficult year for communities across the U.S. and its territories. Yet, somehow you—our ioby community—put more funds into our neighborhoods faster than ever before. In these unprecedented times, we at ioby have looked to you and found strength, positivity, and hope.

Continue reading Thank you for the strength, positivity, and hope this year.

A first look at our new partnership with the City of Boston!

Do you know about “third spaces?” Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you certainly do. If we think of our homes as our first space, and our workplace as our second space, then a third space is anywhere else we regularly spend time and that’s part of the fabric of our neighborhood: community centers, barber shops, libraries, parks, cafes, and even sidewalks are all good examples.

Third spaces are where most ioby projects take place. Soon, we hope a lot more of them will be starting up in Boston, where we’re embarking on a new partnership with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) to bring ioby to community-based organizations and residents with awesome ideas for their neighborhoods’ third spaces.

Continue reading A first look at our new partnership with the City of Boston!

What we’ve learned in “Phase 0”

We suspect a very small number of people are reading this right now. If you are, you probably live in a city where ioby has an on-the-ground staff person or you are likely one of ioby’s peer organizations who have over the years asked if we would release all our “Phase 0” reports publicly. So, we went back to all the people who we interviewed to produce these reports, and asked their permission to include their quotes in these now publicly available documents.

Continue reading What we’ve learned in “Phase 0”

What could federal funding cuts mean for our neighborhoods?

At ioby, our work centers on connecting people who have good ideas for their neighborhoods with resources to make positive change. Much of our work focuses deliberately in neighborhoods with a history of disinvestment, where resources have been scarce for decades.

Sadly, disinvestment in our communities is far from a thing of the past. Under our new administration, we can well expect major federal funding cuts and policy changes in areas that will directly affect our neighborhoods, urban and rural.


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[Rocking the Boat Rowing Team,  a program of the South Bronx-based Youth Development Program]


There’s a lot of uncertainty around what will be cut and when, and what these changes will mean for the people we work with, but we’re beginning to think about what our response should be as an organization with a mission to support local residents in making positive change. What will it mean for our work and the work of our partners if basic services are cut?

We know the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors can’t provide the same level of funding as federal support, but how can we shift our work to make sure we’re doing the best we can for residents who will feel these cuts most severely? And how can we structure this work to continue to build communities up, rather than just responding to dire emergencies?

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[Students Under the Stars program for immigrant students in NYC public schools]


We don’t yet know what to expect, but these are a few of the areas we’re keeping an eye on in order to further develop a programmatic response, and if needed, shift our operations based on the needs of our neighborhoods:

  • The possible elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency: In addition to exacerbating environmental injustices in poor communities, gutting the EPA would mean cutting important funding streams for community-based environmental orgs like the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program and Citizen Science Grants.
  • The withholding of federal funding for sanctuary cities: Likely outcomes could include the elimination of funding for new, risky, and participatory programming as decision-makers shift their limited resources and attention to basic infrastructure and services. In cities that concede and allow local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration directives, a dangerous condition will be created for many of the people with whom ioby works closely. [Washington Post article on federal funding to sanctuary cities]
  • The repeal  of the Affordable Care Act, restructuring Medicaid and SNAP benefits, and ending tax incentives that support affordable housing: All of these planned cuts would place a major and disproportionate burden on already disinvested communities, cutting access to basic services and forcing the social sector to operate defensively with a diminished pool of resources.


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[Pollos del Pueblo, a program of the Cypress Hills CDC in New York]


We want to hear from you, our community: What possible federal funding cuts, restructures, and policy changes would have the biggest impact on your community and your work? And how can we respond in a way that provides support where it is most needed?

Please email   or leave us a comment.


Meet our new Pittsburgh Action Strategist, Miriam Parson!

As we wrote to y’all last year, ioby began as a hyperlocal organization with a mission to support neighborhood leaders and residents making positive change happen where they live. Since our founding in 2009, we’ve become a national organization (meaning that anyone in the U.S. can use our platform and services), but we’ve also been expanding our network of local offices around the country. We’ve always done this intentionally, by going to cities we’ve determined are especially likely to use and benefit from ioby’s platform and services for citizen-led change.

In 2013, we began working in Memphis, and earlier this year we opened our doors in Cleveland and Detroit. Now, we couldn’t be happier to introduce our newest office and newest team member: Action Strategist Miriam Parson of Pittsburgh!

Miriam Parson

“My family were farmers in central Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh is my home,” Miriam says. “I’ll never leave.”

Since 2009, Miriam has collaborated across Pittsburgh’s sustainability and revitalization communities to support many of the city’s environmental and community development solutions.

“Pittsburgh is a very open, collaborative city where people are committed to their neighborhoods’ wellbeing and pool their resources,” she says. “There’s a deep-rooted and collective sense here of our place in history, and we have a diverse, neighborhood-led investment in our home and its future.”

A first-generation college graduate who grew up in systemically under-resourced communities, Miriam is personally dedicated to building equitable collaborations that support neighbors determining the future of their own communities. For the last nine years she has served community initiatives in central PA and Pittsburgh.

Mariam Parson ioby

“My thinking about problems has grown to be very action-oriented,” she says, “and I’ve learned that, as activist Lilla Watson said, ‘your liberation is bound up with mine,’ so we have to work together.”

Miriam says there are lots of organizations out there doing good work, but she’s especially excited by ioby’s “democracy on the ground” approach. “It’s civic engagement, it’s citizen philanthropy, it’s active self-determination,” she says. “It’s, ‘How do we pitch in some money, some time, and make this happen?’ That’s what we should all be doing as citizens anyway. ioby  listens and provides support for Pittsburghers to build the future they want to see in their neighborhood.”

Read more about how we choose cities to work in.

Brandon Whitney, the Distributed Co-Founder!

As ioby grows larger — we’re up to 18 full-time employees now! — we are also growing more distributed.  We were founded in NYC, and  many of our  team still sits in our Brooklyn office. We also have offices and team members in Memphis, Cleveland, and Detroit, and will  soon bring on team members in Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.  We work with partners and resident leaders across the country, and our team spends a lot of time on videoconferences,  as well as doing  a good deal of travel to interface directly with partners and community leaders in cities from LA to Miami.

We’re actively working on being a better distributed team —  to make our work seamless, transparent,  and inclusive, so that there is very little difference in working from a home office in Cleveland as there is working alongside ten colleagues in our Brooklyn office.

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[Another day, another videoconference at ioby]


At the end of the month, we’ll get another opportunity to test and improve on our goal of being a seamless distributed organization: our Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer  Brandon Whitney is moving  to San Francisco! After 10 years as a New Yorker, Brandon will be moving along with his partner  Matt, who will be pursuing a great professional opportunity in the Bay Area.

Other than having to get up painfully early west coast time for staff meetings,  we anticipate  Brandon’s  role at ioby, and his work life,  to remain exactly the same as it has been since he and Erin Barnes founded ioby several years ago.  He will still work closely with the teams he manages, our Leader Success, Product, and Operations teams  via videoconference, tools like Slack and Asana, and phone.  He will likely travel back to Brooklyn  frequently to be part of essential in-person meetings with the Board of Directors and  all-staff meetings.



[Did you ever know that you’re our hero?]


Brandon’s move  also provides some great opportunities for ioby.  The Bay Area is home to many partners, peers, funders, and leaders in the  civic tech  world, as well as countless  leading  community activist and grassroots groups.  We’re excited that Brandon’s move brings a chance to more closely align  with all the great Bay Area-based work being done in our various worlds.

Brandon, bon voyage and best of luck getting settled as a Californian! We’ll miss  your  head sticking up above your cubicle at your standing desk and your bike parked in our Brooklyn co-working space, but we’ll see you on a videoconference very soon!