Tag Archives: miami

Fiscal Sponsorship Now Available to All Groups in the U.S.

Today ioby is pleased to announce the national expansion of our fiscal sponsorship program.

Effective immediately, ioby will offer fiscal sponsorship to informal and unincorporated groups in any community in the United States. To take advantage of ioby’s fiscal sponsorship service, you must have a live ioby campaign. See the details of our fiscal sponsorship policy here. To be eligible to use ioby, leaders must live in the neighborhood where the project is taking place, have explicit goals to make their neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable, make no profit and benefit the public, and have tangible, measurable and measured results.

Why are we doing this?

Since ioby’s beta launch in April 2009, we knew we wanted to serve those who many people call “the grassroots.” During our two-year NYC pilot phase, this meant serving the approximately 3,000 groups that steward green spaces across the five boroughs. According to research by the U.S. Forest Service NYC Urban Field Station, we know that more than half of these groups have annual budgets of less than $1,000 and nearly 70% are led by volunteers. The majority of these groups are informal; that is, they aren’t incorporated and certainly don’t have IRS recognition as a 501(c)3 non profit.

These groups, in NYC and in many other places, are critical managers of green space, open space and public spaces. They’re the unrecognized maintenance partners of plazas who run annual or seasonal cleanups. They start beautification projects. They run programs that activate public spaces and bring vibrancy to our neighborhoods. Most are powered by sweat equity, in-kind donations, small cash donations and small grants. And frankly, there is little incentive for these groups to incorporate and become 501(c)3s themselves.

We also found that ioby is a critical source of startup capital for new social enterprises and civic organizations. About 1/3 of ioby campaigns are explicitly startups and go on to raise additional funding from major gifts and grants.

Since our launch, ioby has provided a limited type of fiscal sponsorship to informal groups of neighbors and unincorporated groups in New York City’s five boroughs and Jersey City. In partnerships with the Miami-Dade County Office of Sustainability and the Memphis Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, ioby extended this service to the metropolitan areas of Miami, Florida in 2012 and Memphis, Tennessee in 2013. In these communities, ioby acts as a fiscal sponsor for approximately 60% of these citizen-led, neighbor-funded projects.

We surveyed ioby Leaders in New York, Miami and Memphis. Among other things, we found that providing tax deductions for donations was especially important in the lowest income neighborhoods where we work. (It wasn’t as important an issue for neighborhood leaders from wealthier families and neighborhoods, except when those groups were expecting to receive donations of $500 or more.) We’re serious about our mission to support leaders in low-income communities who are working to make positive change, and we believe that being responsive to about the services that matter to them and to their donors.

Why is it so important to fund these small groups at the hyper local level?

Well, for starters, we know that lack of non-profit status is a barrier to receiving philanthropic dollars, especially grants and large donations, but it may also be a barrier to effectively solving complex problems. In “Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders,” by Sarah Hansen, we learn that environmental organizations with budgets higher than $5 million consistently receive more than half of all philanthropic dollars, leaving just half the pie for more than 80% of organizations. Hansen’s paper smartly argues that allocating funding explicitly for grassroots organizing in front line communities can effectively support national policies by mobilizing demand for change. But this citation from the Urban Institute only includes groups that have filed a 990 or 990-EZ with gross receipts of $25,000 or more, groups that are in many cases 5 to 25 times larger than a typical ioby Leader’s.

If this expert article assessing the landscape of the grassroots is looking to groups 25 times larger than who ioby typically works with, is anyone studying social change at the block level? What about the important work at an even more grassroots level?

Maybe more importantly, we believe that neighborhood leaders are not just underfunded and untracked, but that they’re an overlooked source of innovation to solve local problems that we believe can and already have demonstrably contributed to climate mitigation and resilience at the local level. To the ioby cofounders, this is worth underscoring. In this crisis, we can’t turn away from this important fountain of radical innovation.

Finally, resilience depends on the strength of community fabric. We believe more funding made available to these groups builds capacity and the strength of local networks. You can read more about ioby’s approach to neighborhood resilience here and here.

Our Miami Public Space Challenge Open!

We are proud to announce our continued partnership with The Miami Foundation, the Health Foundation of South Florida and the Miami Herald on the second Our Miami Public Space Challenge. On the challenge, Miami residents can suggest ideas to improve public spaces anywhere in Miami Dade County.

Vibrant public spaces build a stronger sense of community by sparking social engagement between Miamians. Anyone can post ideas: individuals, groups, for-profit companies or nonprofit organizations.

The deadline for submissions is April 8, 2014. Submit yours now.

Click here check out some of the funded projects from 2013’s Public Space challenge.

Getting Good Done Miami

The January 30 Getting Good Done Miami conversation at the Miami Green Lab was an exciting event. More than 60 of you came out on a rainy night to share practical skills and challenges in doing positive community-based work in Miami.

A full podcast from the event will be available soon. Until then, you can read the storify here.

We were really grateful to have several members of Miami city and Miami-Dade county staff at the event to work with community activists on expediting their great ideas for Miami. Special thanks to Nichole Hefty and Susannah Troner from the Miami-Dade County Office of Sustainability, for initiating this partnership with ioby that is now one year in the making.

We also wanted to recognize Christian Guerrero, the Chief of the Environmental Plan Review at the county, Carlos Hernandez from the County Wastewater Division, and Patrice Gillespie Smith, from the County Community Image Manager for bringing their great ideas to the table. Thanks also to Glen Hadwen from the City of Miami Sustainability for hosting the event at the Miami Green Lab.

Our speakers, Marta Viciedo, Eric Katz, Ileana Collazo and Gayle Zalduondo shared fascinating presentations with us about their projects (all found on ioby.org/miami).


Notable among the practical skills shared to Get Good Done were a focus on taking small steps initially to build support and work within a limited budget at first. The speakers shared that using a light, tactical intervention at first, like a pop-up park, pop-up parklet, or even a pop-up train station, can be great ways to introduce new ideas to a community. Many speakers talked about building creative partnerships and working in neighborhoods where they don’t live and building community, person to person. Marta mentioned that it’s really important to “be nice” when you’re asking people to help you with your ideas. Ileana noted that creative alliances, like hers between artists and developers, can be long lasting. Eric shared his passion for transit-oriented development and said that it is a useful skill he’s acquired in articulating his vision for bringing ecological commodities to all Miami-Dade residents. He emphasized the importance of bringing other people into his network by connecting to them to a shared vision, similar to how one might do so in a grant proposal. Gayle described her surprise when an informal conversation with a new friend about her idea to install a public chalkboard in Wynwood ended up landing her a partnership with a women and girls organization at Miami Dade College.


The Office of Sustainability at Miami-Dade County offered to create a resource guide to try to help ioby leaders and community groups figure out how to get different types of permitting. Miami-Dade County will share this resource guide with all ioby project leaders once finalized. The Office of Sustainability also offered to assist in making connections with other County staff members (and municipal staff when possible). Office of Sustainability staff can be reached at 305-375-5593 or green@miamidade.gov. It’s a good idea to contact ioby first so we can help you prepare for your meeting with the county. All ioby staff are notified when you email miami@ioby.org. If you have an idea for an ioby campaign visit ioby.org/idea or email projects@ioby.org.


Thanks to Luis Munoz for these great photos!

Awesome Project: M-Path Park

What has a diverse population, the Metro Rail, Bus way, M-Path, and is green all over? Downtown Dadeland!

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Well, except for that last part.

This intersection of many types of transportation options mean that this is a great gathering place for people coming from many diverse places by a multitude of means. Dadeland resident and urban planner Eric Katz believes that the only thing missing from this is open green space.

Eric’s big idea is to create an M-Path Park in this Southwest Miami metropolitan hub that is convenient and safe for transit users, joggers, residents, cyclists who can all enjoy the benefits of a local open space. Imagine the possibilities! You could take the train home from work and walk through nature to unwind on your way home, take the bus home from an outdoor concert in the park, or overachieving downtown Miami residents could bike down the M-Path, swinging in to a local grocery store to pick up a picnic lunch for Dadeland’s urban oasis.

Help Eric and his team to build a grassroots community led project to create momentum for this park. Donate now, and be generous: your gift is an investment in a greater Miami.

Our Miami Public Places Challenge

ioby is proud to be a part of the team behind the Miami Foundation’s Our Miami Public Spaces Challenge. We are super duper excited to be providing the training and tools to support Miami civic leaders in making human-scale interventions in their neighborhoods with the support and assistance of their neighbors.

You can map your ideas for public space on the Our Miami site, and ioby will make crowdfunding your great idea ridiculously simple and straightforward, not to mention accomplishable. We help leaders organize all the resources necessary to successfully change the world, one project at a time. All the Our Miami ideas that are currently crowdfunding are here.

How do we do this? Through personal interaction. At ioby, we stand for the opposite of NIMBY, supporting citizen-led, neighbor-funded change. ioby is a vehicle to make positive change quickly, through the use of our crowd-resourcing platform designed for people with great ideas to make their neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable. On ioby, anyone with a good idea can get more than just money. You can also recruit volunteers and share ideas with a likeminded community. And, in the NYC and Miami metro areas, ioby offers fiscal sponsorship for the majority of our projects – this means we handle the headache and hassle of accepting tax-deductible donations, empowering leaders to do what they do best.

During the Public Spaces Challenge we will offer four specialized fast-cash trainings in Miami, sharing 5 years of honed knowledge about running highly successful crowd-funding and crowd-resourcing campaigns and providing a clear and simple path to success spelled out in best practices. The trainings are on Wednesday, August 28, September 4, 11 and 18. Sign up here.

Comeback Cities: Detroit & Miami

We were privileged to have ioby’s own Karja Hansen take part in the inaugural Placemaking Leadership Council, convened by Project for Public Spaces, so that ioby could spend some time in America’s leading current comeback city, Detroit, as an inspiration for ioby’s work in Miami.

The Leadership Council was an incredible 2.5 day working group of 300 “zealous nuts” from all walks of life and profession, who believe that creating place is integral to creating community and value. And we had Detroit as not only our backdrop, but also as our living classroom. Motor City. Paris of The Midwest. Red Town. The D. Whatever you call it, we’re quite taken with it.

Detroit is a city with a surprising amount in common with Miami. Built in different eras, the cities nonetheless share both a structure and, to some degree, a culture. Not a culture of geography or population – though there is more than you would think. There is a culture of perseverance, of stick-to-it-ness, as well as stick-it-to-the-man-ness, for sure. And now, a culture of innovation that has only minimal regard for The Way Things Are and The Way Things Are Done.

Miami is often mistaken with the rest of South Florida as being incredibly sprawled out, which yes–it is around the edges, but not nearly so much as the rest of Florida, or the Southeast Region. And it retains much of its historic neighborhood centers. Nor did Miami’s population bleed out into the suburbs. Detroit’s did, leaving the city empty. Things may not be perfect here, but at least it’s inhabited.

And the car. Yes, the car has left just as much of an indelible mark on Miami as it has on the world famous Motor City. What the automobile has wrought on our community that is the most profound, hard to recognize, and hard to repair. Just as important as the physical structure of the street–pavement, buildings, trees, etc–is the activity on the street, the collisions of people which lead to conversations rather than the collision of cars which leads to critical conditions. It is these conditions from which people recoil in fear, until they are isolated from and anonymous to each other, no longer seeing and treating each other as neighbors, rather as strangers.

Detroit is far from dead, it is absolutely ripe with opportunity. Without an active citizenry opportunity is very hard to take advantage of. It’s uncommon to have the right combination of both opportunity and an active citizenry. But that great combination is what has given rise to such an explosive positive shift in Detroit’s center city and neighborhoods, and it is that same combination that we see in Miami. It is people coming together over a common hope and vision for their neighborhoods and seizing opportunity to effect positive change.

Neighborhoods have always been made by the neighbors: the residents, local businesses, and those who choose to spend time there. In Miami, we’re making neighbors, and hope we can lend a hand in making Miami’s neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable.

“A Gift of the Whole People”: How Crowdfunding Can Help Revitalize National Parks

ioby is proud to announce a new partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association to crowdfund projects in our country’s beloved national parks. It sounds like a cutting-edge idea, and it is—though another cause beat us to the punch by more than a hundred years.

In the late 19th century, French writer and political figure Edouard de Laboulaye came up with the idea for France to give to the United States a symbol of liberty, 100 years after Bastille Day and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The Statue of Liberty was built in two parts. French cities, towns, and individuals contributed two million francs, securing all the necessary funding for the statue’s steel and copper by 1880. But, years later, the United States, still embroiled in a rivalry of which city–Philadelphia, Boston, or New York City–would be the statue’s home state, was unable to come up with the money to build the pedestal upon which Lady Liberty would stand.

Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer had recently purchased the New York City daily, The World. He decided to take up the cause for New York City and inadvertently launched the first American crowdfunding campaign. On March 16, 1885, The World ran this plea:

We must raise the money! The World is the people’s paper, and now it appeals to the people to come forward and raise the money. The $250,000 that the making of the Statue cost was paid in by the masses of the French people—by the working men, the tradesmen, the shop girls, the artisans—by all, irrespective of class or condition. Let us respond in like manner. Let us not wait for the millionaires to give us this money. It is not a gift from the millionaires of France to the millionaires of America, but a gift of the whole people of France to the whole people of America.

By August 11, 1885, the campaign brought in 125,000 donations totaling $100,000, many people donating less than a dollar each to create the foundation for this great symbol of liberty, now managed by the National Park Service.

Today, NPCA and ioby join together continue this great legacy of utilizing citizen philanthropy to support more of our nation’s urban national treasures.

ioby was created for all people who say, “Yes, I want positive change in my community!” On ioby, anyone with a great idea to make her neighborhood stronger and more sustainable can raise tax-deductible donations, recruit local volunteers, and share ideas in a like-minded community.

ioby began as a pilot program in New York City and has a special interest in supporting projects in dense urban centers, which is why we are so excited to be working on this partnership with NPCA and their community partners, National Aquarium (Baltimore, MD), Tropical Audubon Society (Miami, FL), and Roots and Wings (Los Angeles, LA), who are dedicated to connecting city dwellers to the great outdoors.

We launch the pilot today with three great campaigns. In Baltimore, the National Aquarium and National Park Service will recruit volunteers to clear and maintain trails at the wetland adjacent to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Tropical Audubon Society will lead kayaking trips in Biscayne Bay in Miami. In Los Angeles, the Roots and Wings Program will bring high school students on outdoor adventures into five different western national parks.

These crowdfunding campaigns are not so different from the campaign to fund the Statue of Liberty. Sure, we have some advantages. Web tools make collecting donations easier and social channels like Facebook and Twitter help us amplify these stories and visions.

But the premise is not unlike what Mr. Pulitzer posed in 1885. Combined with thousands of other small donations, a single dollar gains power. With others, the voice of a lone micro-donor grows louder, and says, “Yes, I want healthy wetlands in Baltimore!” and, “Yes, I support kayaking trips in Biscayne Bay!” and “Yes, I want Los Angeles youth to visit more national parks!”

Learn more about easy ways you can contribute a dollar (or more) to the parks and say “yes!” to other important causes at ioby.org/NPCA

Meet Karja Hansen. Welcome ioby to Miami.

Had you asked me prior to the summer of 2010 if I would ever consider living in Miami, I would have quickly answered no. I’d never been to Miami, but I’d been to Orlando, and Miami was south of that humid hot mess, and from what little I knew of it, populated by shopping malls, sprawl and body obsessed party-goers. Not really my thing. But, I was offered an incredible opportunity to work with incredible visionaries and leaders in my field, and the catch was that they were in Miami. So, I sucked it up and moved on down, expecting to hate Miami but just deal with it. And, wow, was I surprised.

I am just bursting with excitement about ioby en Miami! I’m not much of a morning person, but here I am, up and writing at 6:50 am – a time when I usually have no interest in, or awareness of, anything but my pillow.

Miami blew me away. In addition to being a tropical paradise and a cyclists dream (topographically anyhow – definitely not from a facility or safety perspective), Miami has serious assets and burgeoning energy. A young city-region, Miami-Dade is comprised of great historic centers which have seen an astonishing comeback over the past 20 years, starting with Coconut Grove and South Beach, but now having spread to almost every place with a walkable, dense, mixed use makeup – and there are many of them, having originated along the Flagler rail and streetcar lines (now defunct or torn up). The sprawl is still a major issue, the transit comes up sorely short, the government is decidedly Caribbean – don’t get me wrong, there are some serious challenges here. But there are also incredible assets and opportunities, across the board. People, especially younger people now, are moving here from all over to build, together, their own vision of how life should be lived – and, for the first time in a long time, they are intermingling with the natives. Imagine my surprise when I gushed to an awesome native Miamian about how exciting it was to meet someone doing something cool who was actually FROM Miami – and was told, in response, that she felt the same way every time she met someone doing something cool who WASN’T from Miami (Jeremy Glaezer wrote a great piece on this, here).

The native-newcomer interaction is an important one, bridging a divide that has yawned wide for decades. But, it follows on the heels of a bevy of boundary crossing uniting forces unique in this city. Add to that list the fact that we here are literally on the forefront of climate change and sea level rise – and you can begin to understand how greater Miami and South Florida in general is becoming a leader of renaissance regions.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of why I am so excited to be living and working in Miami, against all expectations. The change I have witnessed in my two short years in the city, the energy that is greater every day, the diversity and the push for change, for a better world, is so clear and central in the Miami I have come to know. But, like all great movements early in their life, much of the energy and effort is still happening in isolation, struggling to succeed. And this is where ioby comes in. The digital community-making tools and resources provided by ioby the platform are transformational – and easy to use. But, this is not necessarily unique. What truly distinguishes ioby is the people behind these tools and resources. I have what some would call a spotty employment history, as do many of my generation, because I have always pursued avocation over employment. I have always had a driving need to be putting my time and effort towards something meaningful that continued to expose me to new knowledge and experience. What I have come to know of the people behind ioby floors me. The passion, dedication and ability – not to mention enjoyment – with which they pursue their work is what has been long missing from the job market and economy. Pair this with the vision and foresight of the Miami Dade County Office of Sustainability, inviting ioby to come here and operate and help accomplish the goals of the GreenPrint plan, and the support of the Health Foundation of South Florida and the funders network to do so – we’ve got a dynamic and multi-talented partnership.

I am so excited to be joining ioby and bringing life to their Miami office. I look forward to sharing my efforts and experiences in the coming days, and to working with many of you. Lets set the world to rights, live and support a lifestyle that contributes to our shared bottom lines, and get back to aspiring and inspiring endeavors!

Get Involved

Karja is our new Miami Project Recruiting Manager. She’s a composting, tree-hugging, locavoring, kayaking, chicken-loving urbanist, and she is very excited to talk to you about supporting your ideas to make your neighborhood more awesome. Learn more about her, and the rest of the ioby team, here Karja is always often on the go, meeting the people living and working in Miami-Dade and helping them to make their ideas for a greater Greater Miami become reality. Get in touch to visit with her in YOUR backyard: email her at karja [at] ioby [dot] org, or call her at 305.428.2705.