Learn from a Leader: Rev up your neighborhood’s green spaces with a fun run

Want to start your own project but need some inspiration? Our new “Learn from a Leader” page includes videos and blog series, profiling past ioby Leaders who succeeded in bringing more fresh food, active transport, green spaces, and other healthy improvements to their neighborhoods. Read on, and imagine what you could do on your block!


about the project

The Hunts Point Hustle is a 5K run/walk that gets people outside to celebrate this South Bronx neighborhood’s green spaces—and call attention to residents’ desire for more—while raising money for local green jobs training. For the tenth consecutive year, the event was hosted by Sustainable South Bronx, which works in partnership with its parent organization The HOPE Program to provide education, training, and job placement to NYC residents, largely in sustainable construction and building maintenance. The 2016 Hustle took place on Saturday, October 1.

“While I’ve been with HOPE for several years and therefore had been involved with the Hustle in the past, this was my first year directing it,” says Irene Branche, HOPE’s Chief Development Officer and the Hustle’s ioby campaign leader. “I’m a runner myself, so it was really fun to combine my love of running with my love of our organizations’ meaningful green programs that do so much for New Yorkers’ economic and physical health.”

Hunts Point Hustle ioby


The steps:

  1. Brainstorm. You want to plan an event that will fulfill the needs of your neighborhood, constituents, and funders, so think about their goals as you brainstorm: Why would they be interested in what you’re trying to do? Then articulate your idea clearly, and write out a compelling case about what you’re fundraising for. Be realistic, succinct, and inspiring as you answer questions like: Why should anyone care about this? Why should they give?
  2. Permits & partnerships. Any big event like this involving hundreds of people and street closures will require a parade permit and the partnership of your city’s police and probably parks departments. Our local police precinct had been involved with the Hustle before, and they were very helpful with giving us routing suggestions and general support. The parks department was also on board and helped us with a lot of logistics. In my experience, city agencies are kindly disposed to events like these and more than willing to assist—but approach them early in the process, as working with the government can at times be slow going!
  3. Harass your board of directors! I’m joking! Mostly. But you should make the time to create personal appeals to your board members, if you’re working with an organization. Also design ways to hold them accountable for fundraising. In our case, we issued a weekly report of who had recently raised money and how much. We didn’t directly single out people who weren’t pulling their weight, but it was evident. We were not as good this time around at engaging our local community. It’s also important to reach out to them through social media and offline methods like flyers so they know they can get involved. And remember to spread the word to different groups: runners and joggers, park enthusiasts, people interested in your nonprofit’s programming… Folks might participate for any number of reasons.
  4. Partnerships part 2: The more, the merrier! We used the money we raised with ioby to offer free race registration to students and graduates of our programs, and were then able to extend that offer to other community groups. We also sought out partnerships with local organizations like Rocking the Boat, who gave participants free boat rides after the race, and companies like Coca-Cola, who sponsored our water stations (which featured environmentally-friendly water jugs and compostable cups).
  5. Thanks all around. Make sure all participants get some memorabilia at your event like a t-shirt or reusable water bottle, and afterward, take the time to write thank-you letters to everyone. You couldn’t do this without them!

Hunts point hustle


  • Early fall is usually a great time to run, so that’s the time of year we’ve settled into. Spring can also be a nice time, if that works better for your schedule.
  • Get your race date on the calendar as soon as you can. It’s helpful for everyone involved to be able to plan around it as early in the game as possible.

If your event will take place in the fall:

  • Get going on the permitting process in January! It can take many months to secure what you need.
  • Spring is a good time to reach out to food vendors and donors to line up snack tables for several months down the road.
  • Three months out from race day is a good time to publish your sign-up page online. (Just be aware that, at least in our experience, most people won’t sign up until there’s only about a month to go. So don’t freak out if you only see a few registrations to start with!)



Our total fundraising goal was $15K, and we raised about $23K, which was wonderful. All that extra funding will go right into our job training programs. We always try to keep our costs very low, so that the bulk of our fundraising can go to our mission work. This year, our costs totaled around $5K. Our staff volunteered their time to work the race, so our biggest costs were:

  • Hiring a timing company. You can certainly run a non-timed race and meet many of the same health goals, but serious runners will be more likely to sign up if they know they can place. So we make the investment in bibs embedded with chip technology that record when people cross the finish line.
  • T-shirts—for both runners and volunteers—are a significant cost, but are expected and appreciated, so we do it.
  • All the little things: signage, printing, chartering a shuttle from the subway to the race start… It all adds up!


Additional resources:


About the author:

Irene Branche has been with HOPE since 2011. She holds an MPA from Baruch College, a BA in French, and serves on the board of College and Community Fellowship. In the summer, you can catch her walking into the office in her bicycle helmet.

Irene Branche

Inspired? Start your own project!