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.
Idea #1: Give to a Mutual Aid Fund
At the heart of every mutual aid project, there’s a neighborhood expert (like you!) who’s responding to a specific need they see. “We believe that neighbors have a duty to take care of one another,” says Maryam S., leader of the Astoria Mutual Aid Network. We agree! We’re so proud of the changemakers who are supporting others by organizing and participating in mutual aid projects in their communities.
When you donate to a mutual aid project, your contribution can go a long way. Many of these projects are fundraising to supply basic necessities to people, especially those who may be particularly vulnerable. The folks behind the Astoria Mutual Aid Network and South Brooklyn Mutual Aid are combating food insecurity and working to keep their neighbors safe and healthy. “This is about solidarity not charity,” they say. “We’re neighbors helping neighbors.”
Idea #2: Support the Arts
In difficult times, art has a special way of lifting our spirits and giving us hope. It’s clear art has a big role to play today: communicating emotion, calming us, and uniting us. Most importantly, as the staff at the National Endowment for the Arts reminds us, “the arts matter because they help us to understand how we matter.”
People are helping their communities by following health guidelines and staying home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in the arts and support the artists who help color our world.
In Virginia, Abigail G. is stepping up to continue to offer access to the arts even in a time of social distancing. Her project, Arte Libre in the Time of Corona, empowers Latinx and Youth of Color through “equitable access to quality arts education and programming.” These young artists aren’t able to meet or collaborate in person, so Abigail is finding ways to bring art to them by mailing free art kits, offering online workshops, and facilitating virtual collaboration between young adults and community members to design mural panels.
For artists who aren’t able to meet in galleries and workshops in person, there’s still a role our community can play to support the arts. “The current global pandemic has made it impossible for us to gather and make art together as a community,” says Amelia D., the ioby Leader behind the Detroit-based initiative Art on the Block. She knows that many artists have lost income due to COVID-19, so her goal is to provide them with financial support. She’s working to make sure her organization continues to be an outlet for creativity and cultural expression in the Motor City.
Idea #3: Give to a Project that Supports Vulnerable Neighbors
Due to the pandemic’s ripple effects, many of our most vulnerable neighbors are facing layers of hardships. “Imagine struggling with the US asylum process on top of everything,” says Rebekah S., an ioby Leader who is dedicated to helping asylum seekers in the time of COVID-19. Her project provides safe living conditions and other resources to asylum seekers in New York City who may already be experiencing extraordinary difficulties. “With your help,” she says, “we can maintain a welcoming place even during these frightening times.”
People who are experiencing homelessness are in need of support, too. They may be at an increased risk of infection due to the communal nature of shelter facilities and their lack of access to medical care. Scott J., who’s leading Detroit’s COVID-19 Homeless Response, is one of the folks looking out for his at-risk neighbors. He’s coordinating efforts “to ensure that people experiencing homelessness who are symptomatic, awaiting results, or test positive receive essential services.”
And in New York City, neighbors with Movement for Justice in El Barrio, an immigrant-led grassroots organization, are crowdfunding to make sure that no one falls through the cracks. They’re raising funds for direct support for documented and undocumented immigrants who were left out of government coronavirus relief efforts.
Idea #4: Give to a Grassroots, COVID-19 Support Fund
The pandemic has created massive disruption in our communities, and the most vulnerable—including low-income families, communities of color, immigrants, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised—have been hit hardest by this pandemic. If you’re having a hard time choosing what project to give to, we organized five pools of funds right now that we are using to disburse directly to groups to provide immediate and direct support to neighbors on the ground organizing to care for their community.
Whether we’re able to reach one neighbor or hundreds of neighbors, any effort we make to lend a hand is important. Take a look at our Care during COVID-19 to browse more projects that are currently fundraising, and for tips, resources, and support if you’re interested in starting your own project! If you’ve got your own idea to start a project to offer care, share it with us and we’ll help you make a plan to successfully raise the funds you need to bring it to life.