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!
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.
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.
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’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.