ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Toolkit

Being healthy doesn’t always look the same for everyone. It might look like squeezing in an early morning jog before work, or it might be a community yoga class at your local park. 

The places where we live also have a powerful effect on our health. Think about your own neighborhood; are there enough sidewalks and bike lanes to ensure that you can get around safely, and live an active lifestyle? Do you have easy access to affordable healthy food? Are there well maintained parks and other open areas for you to spend time outside?

Whatever a healthy community looks like to you, if you’re looking to boost the culture of health in your neighborhood, this guide is for you!

We interviewed neighborhood leaders from across the country to get their expert advice on building healthier communities. Learn from their experiences, get inspired, and use this guide as a starting point for your own unique project.

Meet the experts   |   Healthy Communities Guide (Printable)   |   What makes communities healthy?   |   Webinars   |   Share your idea   |   Additional Resources   

Meet the experts 


Grow Brownsville

Project Leader: Alexis Mena
Neighborhood: Brownsville, Brooklyn
Raised on ioby: $6,755 for an aquaponic system to build food sovereignty in Brownsville and East New York. 

Meet Alexis


Unshakeable Motherhood

Project Leader: Syreeta Gordon
Neighborhood: Northside, Pittsburgh
Raised on ioby: $1,493 for Doula Scholarships and Unshakeable Motherhood Event 

Meet Syreeta


Cada Paso

Project Leader: Cappy Collins
Neighborhood: East Harlem, New York City
Raised on ioby: $10,690 for fresh fruit, community garden membership fees, Greenmarket Produce "bucks," and other things to host a season of walks. 

ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Toolkit
Meet Cappy


Come Walk with Us

Project Leader: Rachel Jefferson and Shannon Criss
Neighborhood: Kansas City, KS
Raised on ioby: $8,734 to conduct a neighbor-led walk audit in three of the largest and most densely populated neighborhoods of Wyandotte County.

ioby Healthy Toolkit
Meet Rachel & Shannon


Healthy Communities Guide

The places where we live have a powerful effect on our health. In this printable PDF guide, get practical advice from five ioby leaders across the country whose crowdfunding projects improved the culture of health in their communities. Think of the tips in this guide as the core ingredients for a project that successfully builds a culture of health. Use it as a starting point, then substitute or leave some others out to fit your own public health project.

Download the guide

ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Toolkit

What makes a community healthy?  

There isn’t just one way for a community to be healthy, but there are key ingredients that contribute to the health of communities. Two of those key ingredients are the physical and social environment.

Social environment — Your social environment refers to how you experience your neighborhood. This can include things like access to healthy and affordable food, access to health care, social equity (like freedom from discrimination), a sense of safety and belonging in your community, and more.

Something to consider: You might have a grocery store or farmers market in your neighborhood, but are the prices of healthy foods there accessible to everyone in the community? Or do folks have to travel long distances to even get to an affordable source of healthy food?

Physical environment — Your physical environment includes the natural environment in your neighborhood. That means things like good air quality. It also includes the built environment—the things in our neighborhoods that people have designed and built, like parks, community gardens, safe and accessible sidewalks, bike lanes, buildings, and roads.

Something to consider: How healthy is a neighborhood where people with different abilities aren’t able to access and enjoy public spaces? Are there things you and your neighbors can do to make buildings, streets and parks more accessible to people of all abilities and all ages?

All of these things can contribute to the health of residents in your community. When thinking about how to boost health, consider all of ways you can improve your community’s culture of health. Having access to fresh, healthy foods pretty clearly impacts health. But sidewalks? They do, too! A neighborhood with lots of safe sidewalks and bike lanes encourages people to walk and bike around the neighborhood when they need to get things done, working in a bit of exercise throughout the day and improving things like heart health, reducing their risk of diabetes, and more.

Think of making improvements to your social and physical environments as boosting your community’s immune system. Bike lanes and safer crosswalks boost your neighborhood’s immunity to traffic accidents. A safe, clean park with trails and activities encourages physical activity and boosts your neighborhood’s immunity to things like obesity. Even small projects add up to make big impacts in strengthening the culture of health in your neighborhood.

Ready to take action? Here are five tips from project leaders around the country to successfully launch your own community health project.




We hosted conversations with leaders from across the country to hear their stories of grassroots projects to boost public health. In these recorded webinars, we asked:

  • How did neighbors arrive at a project idea?
  • When is crowdfunding the right tool to fundraise for community health projects?
  • How do you build a team and develop leadership? 
  • How did they address systemic issues in their work?

Click below to watch the conversations. 


Where to start? In your own back yard. 

At ioby, we know that the most effective, meaningful, long-lasting change is led by people in their own communities. Neighbors know the challenges, opportunities, and assets that their communities have, and are the best positioned to become leaders in solutions. That's why we think they're the experts! 

So look around you: how healthy is your neighborhood? What are the resources that your community has that you could build on? What are the things, big or small, that you could do to boost your neighborhood's culture of health? 

When you're ready to start a project that boosts your neighborhood's health, we're here to help. 

Tell us your idea

Additional Resources  

Health Forward Foundation

Black Mamas Matter

County Health Rankings

Healthcare Transformation Task Force

SEED Network

Black Land and Liberation Initiative

Greenlining Institute

Soul Fire Farm

Gehl Institute

Movement Generation

Center for Urban Pedagogy

People Make Parks

The Community Guide

Advancement Project — Participatory Asset Mapping

Loyola University Chicago — A Community Needs Assessment Guide

University of Kansas — Conducting Needs Assessment Surveys


This toolkit was made possible with generous support from the New York State Health Foundation.