Service-minded city residents have a new ally in ioby, a nonprofit that seeks to expand their work in Pittsburgh neighborhoods with a new Uptown office and full-time staff.
ioby, which stands for “In Our Backyards,” is more than your typical crowdfunder: they support low-cost, grassroots-driven community projects by lending technical assistance and training in addition to a fundraising platform. They call this blend of crowdsourcing and resource organizing “crowd-resourcing.”
Meeting in front of an ioby beneficiary project from last year, the Deutschtown City Steps Mosaic Mural, Pittsburgh Action Strategist Miriam Parson explained that her organization’s increased presence in the city will help residents cultivate the projects they want by “[bringing] together the training and resources to make it possible.”
ioby has raised $30,000 in tax-deductible donations in two years of operation in Pittsburgh, as well as hundreds of volunteer hours. With a full-time presence in the city they hope to double that figure.
Mac Howison, program officer at The Sprout Fund, says his organization is looking forward to partnering with ioby to “help citizens take leadership roles” in community-minded endeavors. “People and money are what make these projects happen,” he says.
Ruth Dailey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist and North Side resident, was one of the organizers behind the Deutschtown City Steps that, she says, is an example of the catalytic change made possible through small grants. The project grew out of a small grant from The Sprout Fund which was augmented through an ioby campaign. The capital for the mural was then leveraged with the city to fix the stairwell and now residents of the adjoining neighborhoods have eye-catching public artwork along with revitalized public infrastructure.
“We would not have succeeded without Sprout and ioby,” says Daly.
ioby is currently engaged in a community teaching farm in Homewood and a gateway sign on Federal Street welcoming visitors to Fineview and Perry Hilltop. The group intends to focus their efforts in Pittsburgh’s historically overlooked neighborhoods, including Uptown, the Hill District, Hazelwood and the Hilltop communities, among others.
“Students are interviewing elders in the community for the project,” says Joanna Deming of the Perry Hilltop Citizen’s Council and Fineview Citizen’s Council. The hope is that the sign will provide students with a sense of “history and place,” something that instills civic pride as well as beautifies the neighborhood.
Interested? View local projects, donate, or initiate a program here.