Guest Blog: David Weinberger – Community Crowdfunding Comes to Akron

Community Crowdfunding Comes to Akron

It’s not easy for organizations doing great community work to find funding to put together the programs and events that they do for our communities. We here at ArtsNow are always looking for options to help those organizations find what they need so they can get to work.

With that in mind we reached out to David Weinberger, the City Partnerships Director at ioby.com, to share with everyone how ioby helps individuals use a community crowdfunding platform to achieve their goals. Learn a little about ioby here and then research the programs they’ve worked with to see if ioby may be right for you and your organization.

Take it away, David! – Roger Riddle, ArtsNow

photo credit – ioby.org

It’s hard to keep up with all the great, community-driven work being done across Akron these days. From City Repair and Better Block projects sprouting up in neighborhoods, to the new Innerbelt National Forest project that promises to inspire creative reimagining of community boundaries and public space, leaders across Akron are demonstrating that they’re not afraid to use art to transform their neighborhoods and make their communities stronger and more sustainable. Now, Akron’s leaders, artists, and culture buffs have a powerful new source of funding to fuel their awesome neighborhood projects: civic crowdfunding with ioby.

ioby.org is a nonprofit, online crowdfunding platform that connects local leaders with the support and unrestricted funding they need to improve their neighborhoods block-by-block. Since our founding, ioby has supported more than 1,000 neighbor-led projects nationwide that help make neighborhoods more beautiful, greener, more livable, and more fun. Examples of public art funded with ioby include murals in public spaces, creative placemaking projects at bus stop, and artmaking workshops for kids.
ioby’s model emphasizes community education and ownership. ioby leaders volunteer their own time and their own ideas to make their neighborhoods a better place, which in turn gives each project a sense of purpose, belonging, and stewardship that is difficult to achieve through other funding means. This feeling of ownership translates into sustained neighborhood stewardship, which makes for more beautiful, livable, and inclusive communities over time.

For artists and community leaders who are new to fundraising or afraid to ask their neighbors, friends, and family to contribute to their passion projects, ioby offers coaching services to bolster their capacity and ability to fundraise. ioby’s team of Leader Success Strategists coach new grassroots leaders in community organizing and fundraising best practices. Our goal is to enable and inspire grassroots leaders to fund and create projects in their neighborhoods. Like ArtsNow, ioby believes in the transformative power of arts and culture in communities, especially when that power is placed in the hands of the people who know their communities best.

There are many great examples of connections between ioby’s and ArtsNow’s work. For over a year, ioby has consistently supported important arts-related (and other) crowdfunding campaigns in Cleveland, including A Bridge that Bridges, a campaign for a community mural that engaged diverse community members in conversation on race. The mural is sited on the bridge over Innerbelt I-90, which serves as the dividing line between thriving Downtown Cleveland and Cleveland State University to the north, and a majority Black neighborhood with high concentrations of public housing to the south. The highway, built in the late 1950’s, is a physical representation of the racial and cultural barriers in the city. This project sought to bring people together from either side of the I-90 to grapple with and start to heal deep divisions through art and meaningful collaboration. The group raised over $2,100 from 36 donors, with an average donation of about $59.

In Memphis, ioby is currently working with a group of residents to create and fund Barrier Free, a socially engaged art installation designed by artist Yancy Villa-Calvo for Latino Memphis about the impact of barriers. A direct response to the Border Wall proposal and other policies that threaten to divide Latino families and vulnerable families, this piece asks residents to participate by imagining that a loved one has gone missing, and by sharing their dreams for a barrier-free world.

Barrier Free: A Socially Engaged Art Installation from ioby on Vimeo.

Those are just two examples of awesome, resident-led, neighbor-funded arts projects on ioby’s platform. Here are some more of our favorites:

If you’re interested in working with ioby to fund and implement a project in your Akron neighborhood, head over to ioby.org/idea to get started.

Questions? Contact David Weinberger, ioby’s City Partnerships Director, at david@ioby.org.