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In 2009, three recent graduates of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies submitted an application for a single desk at the Neighborhood Preservation Center to begin a new nonprofit called ioby (in our backyard). ioby.org was the first website of its kind, using microphilanthropy to leverage funding and awareness of, initially, local environmental projects. Erin Barnes, the Executive Director, wrote in the application that "Online, groups describe their projects, and people can choose to fund them or volunteer, so that we might better enjoy the places where we live, work and play."
Over the course of ioby's 15-month residence at the Center, their needs grew from one desk to three as they began piloting their program in New York City. Today, five years later, their base of operations is in Brooklyn and they are active in 100 cities. Since their inception in 2009, ioby has funded 361 projects totaling over one million dollars. They have also expanded their focus beyond the original "environmental" requirements to include all the elements that make a neighborhood strong: like food, safe streets, citizen science, schools, sharing, placemaking, public arts, public health, tactical urbanism, social justice and anything where neighbors work together to fix something.
ioby aims to strengthen neighborhoods by supporting its leaders who seek to make a positive change by engaging their neighbors in a manner of crowd-resourcing. Combining the concepts of crowd-funding (the ability to collect small donations made online to fund a specific cause of project) along with resource organizing (considering activists and advocates as being the best supporters), provides everyone involved with the ability to organize all kinds of different capital. ioby believes crowd-resourcing is a powerful way to build support while ensuring the success of a project.
They have recently launched We Started Here, a national storytelling project ioby is building in creative collaboration with Good Eye Video, designed to "share the personal histories of the individuals among us who step up to make our neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable". Here is the trailer.