What is Racial Justice Work?   |   Where to start?    |    Videos   | Download the Racial Justice Guide   | New resources   | Meet Our Contributors  |  Countless Other Models  |  Additional Resources 

ioby Racial Justice Toolkit

ioby's Racial Justice Toolkit

Racial justice work looks like many different things. It can look like a block party to bring neighbors together and discuss racial inequity. Or, it could be a maternal education, resources, and support group for Black mothers to close the maternal health gap. It might even be a community garden to help offer fresh fruits and veggies to the community and confront food deserts. But at the core of all racial justice projects is a commitment to confront our nation's deep and sordid history of racism, and a commitment to do what we can to eradicate racism today. Fighting racism isn't a one-time affair, and it won't be completed by a single project no matter how large. It's a struggle that's been waged for generations, and one that we carry on today. If that sounds like a big task to carry, that's because it is! But maybe the most important thing about racial justice work is that you're never in it alone.

We made this toolkit with help from our friends and community in Cleveland to help you pick up the torch of racial justice. From case studies, to webinars, to tips for starting your own project, our Racial Justice Toolkit has the building blocks you'll need to get started doing the work. Of course, there is a LOT that we don't cover and couldn't possibly cover. So think of this guide as just a starting point, and add to it from the many, many resources out there and the many leaders doing racial justice work across the country—and the world. We've included a series of links where you can start your own research, but remember that everyone's racial justice journey will look a little different.

To justice!

Note: We launched this toolkit back in 2018 to lift up the important work that activists were, and are, doing in Cleveland. But we know that the work of racial justice isn't stagnant and it isn't finished with just one project, it's an ever-evolving journey. Likewise, this toolkit isn't stagnant either! We're continuously updating it, adding new case studies, resources, and advice to offer you the strongest toolkit we can. Click here to see our newest resources, and check back often for more updates!

What is Racial Justice Work

Racial justice work can take many different forms. There is no one strategy for addressing the historical and systemic injustices that communities of color face every day. This work can look like building or creating something, increasing access to resources or education, creating a space for dialogue among people with different lived experiences, pushing back against unjust policies or practices, or many other examples. What many of these projects have in common, though, is that they begin with collaboration, conversation, and simply listening.


Where do I start

ioby believes 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 contain, and are best positioned to become leaders in solutions.

So look around: how does racial injustice impact your own community? What are the resources within your community that you can build on? What are the small things you can do to start conversations, ask questions, listen deeply, and change established patterns?

The resources in the Racial Justice Toolkit were created by six racial justice leaders from Cleveland, in conversation with ioby. We hope they will be helpful to your own work.



The playlist above includes four videos:

Meet the Cleveland Racial Justice Organizers

How to Get Started in Racial Justice Work

How to Collaborate with Neighbors to Fight Racism

How to Handle Burnout When Fighting Racism

A Racial Justice Guide


Six Clevelanders with four very different racial justice projects share their experiences, challenges, and tactics with us in this printable PDF guide. These projects are not intended to be blueprints: the approach you take will need to be informed by your own community’s unique needs and assets. Rather, we hope their stories can provide a helpful starting point, a key insight, or simply an inspiration as you begin your own journey organizing for racial justice.

Download the Racial Justice Guide


New Resources from ioby

We're continuously updating it, adding new case studies, resources, and advice to offer you the strongest toolkit we can. Below, explore new webinars, blogs, and resources that we've added since we launched this toolkit back in 2018. Check back often for more resources, too! 

Webinar: Crowdfunding for Racial Justice

Learn from ioby project leaders who are addressing their neighborhood’s need for racial justice and have created community solutions around racial equity. They’ll share how crowdfunding supported their grassroots projects and how they got started, built support, and overcame challenges. Indigo Bishop, one of ioby’s Action Strategists, will also share more about how we work to support social justice changemaking.

Watch the recording

Webinar: 400 Years of Inequality, Visioning a Just Future

This workshop is presented by the 400 Years of Inequality initiative, a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to dismantling structural inequality and building strong, healthy communities. It was born out of a call to observe the 400th anniversary of the first landing of Africans at Jamestown to be sold into bondage. In this webinar, we’ll explore that history and imagine what that means for our present today. How do those legacies shape the work of creating justice today? How can we vision and organize in the service of what we’re ‘for’? And how do we build people’s power in these times? 

Watch the recording

Webinar: Racial Equity in Creative Placemaking

As communities across the country grapple with our nation’s vast legacy of racism, one that permeates our everyday life today, creative placemaking has a unique role to play in imagining what a more equitable present and future might look like. Bringing together the arts, culture, and creative decision-making in the process of planning and nurturing our future, creative placemaking is a potent tool to tackle inequity today and build a just future. In this recorded webinar, learn how to incorporate racial equity at every turn in your project—from conceiving it, to bringing it to life.

Watch the recording

Blog: Organizing the Neighborhood for Justice, Black History Projects That Honor the Past

Get advice and examples from neighbors across the country who are organizing their neighborhoods for justice. In this blog, explore projects that celebrate Black History and honor the past. Along the way, these projects create space for the present and offer lessons for the future. 

Read the blog

Meet the Contributors

Learn a little more about each of the six organizers we spoke with, as they share how they first became involved in racial justice work, why they chose the project they did, and their tactical advice for organizing something similar.



Indigo Bishop
ioby's former Cleveland Action Strategist

Meet Indigo

Michele Crawford
Project: Design as Protest Day of Action
Neighborhood: Cleveland’s East Side
Raised on ioby: $324 for design supplies like pens, masking tape, post-its, and sketch paper as well as refreshments.

Meet Michele

M. Carmen Lane
Project: ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership
Neighborhood: Buckeye
Raised on ioby: $10,880 for renovation costs to transform a vacant duplex in Buckeye into a community space

Meet Carmen

Leah Lewis
Project: The X’s and O’s of Race/ism, a Docu-series
Neighborhood: Citywide and beyond
Raised on ioby: $3,319 for research and production of a documentary trailer

Meet Leah


Gwendolyn Garth and Kaela Geschke  
Project: A Bridge That Bridges
Neighborhood: Campus District/Central Neighborhood
Raised on ioby: $2,115 for artist and facilitator fees, art supplies, food, and promotional materials

Meet Gwen and Kaela



Countless other models


In terms of models for racial justice projects, these four Cleveland projects just begin to scratch the surface of what’s possible. And while many of the lessons from these leaders will translate across project type, your community has its own unique challenges, strengths and assets. Here is a list of other racial justice projects funded on ioby.

One note: Your project may be a racial justice project even if it doesn’t immediately seem so. While some of these project leaders are explicit about addressing racial injustice, many others take a seemingly unrelated approach, like installing solar streetlights in a historically disinvested neighborhood. As most racial justice organizers will quickly tell you, it is impossible to separate racial injustice from economic injustice, from health injustice, from education injustice, and so on. Interrelated problems call for interdisciplinary approaches!


#BankBlack, National
A national campaign to educate and encourage people from all backgrounds to invest in Black-owned financial institutions and the communities they serve. 


Barrier Free - A Socially Engaged Art Installation, Memphis, TN

An interactive and moveable art installation about the impact of barriers, including those around nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation and identity, gender, and socioeconomic status. 


Black Hills Unity Concerts, Black Hills, SD
A free, three-day music and arts festival celebrating the strong legacy of the Lakota and Dakota people, and all indigenous communities, and advocating for the preservation of sacred land. 


C-3 Cooperative Gardens, Memphis, TN
An initiative to provide leasable land for $1/year, tools, supplies, and support for people living in blighted Memphis neighborhoods to become self-sufficient growers, using permaculture.


Changing the Norm, Ypsilanti, MI
Established a nonprofit farm to offer training, skills and employment for both men and women returning home from incarceration, which disproportionately affects people of color.  


Flip the Table Youth Food Council, New York, NY

A youth-led coalition working to support, empower, and amplify the passionate young voices of the food justice movement through an environmental and social justice lens. 


Friends of Chelsea Greenline Advocacy Group, Memphis, TN
In anticipation of the new Chelsea Greenline bike and pedestrian path, a new community group to ensure that all future redevelopment is productive and inclusive for North Memphis residents. 


Georgia's First Urban AgriHOOD, Macon, GA
An initiative to convert vacant, and abandoned homes and unused land into a vibrant community centerpiece where food alternatives, neighborhood pride, and commerce is desperately needed. 


Hollaback! Detroit: Taking It to the Streets, Detroit, MI
A street art and education campaign to end catcalling and street harassment in Downtown and Midtown Detroit, which predominantly affects women of color. 


Music on the Inside for Young People at Rikers Island, Queens, NY
A music education program, in partnership with artistic advisor Wynton Marsalis, to bring songwriting and performance experience and skills to incarcerated youth at Rikers Island.


Parker Village Shines, Highland Park, MI
Cooperatively-owned, state-of-the-art smart solar streetlights with wifi, signage, and security in the disinvested community of Highland Park, to build a legacy of innovation and leadership. 


Save the Imani Willow, Brooklyn, NY
An initiative to buy back a vacant lot in the middle of the 50-year-old Imani Garden, located in the middle of Weeksville, the oldest independent African-American community in New York City. 


Saving our Sons and Daughters, Pittsburgh, PA
A one-day youth sports event bringing together children from across neighborhoods and school district to help build relationships of understanding and prevent youth violence. 


Shooting Without Bullets, Cleveland, OH
A youth advocacy and fine arts education program that focuses on identity development in Black teens in Cleveland through expressive arts healing, photography, and open dialogue. 


#TakeEmDown901, Memphis TN
A community-led initiative to put pressure on the City of Memphis to remove two confederate statues in Memphis parks and plan for their replacement with art installations.


The Muslim ARC House, Detroit, MI
The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative is creating a physical space for racial justice education and training through workshops, community dialogues, retreats and collaborative work. 


Youth Leaders Board, New York, NY and Miami, FL
The founding of the youth-led SOUL Sisters Leadership Collective core group, in anticipation of the launch of a broader girls leadership program promoting healing, justice & the arts.


Additional Resources

Interested in other resources for organizing around racial justice, inclusion, and healing in your community?


400 Years of Inequality

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress' Year of Awareness

Center for Diversity and the Environment

Coming to the Table

Democracy Collaborative

Dispatches from Cleveland

MBK Alliance's List of Racial Justice Organizations [PDF]

National Civil Rights Museum's MLK50 Commemoration

Race Forward

Racial Equity Alliance

Racial Equity Institute

Racial Equity Tools

Showing Up for Racial Justice

The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond


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