ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge


ioby has proven to be an efficient and effective partner to help foundations get grant funding closer to the ground and build local capacity in a completely different way.

In this report, ioby shares the method we used, in partnership with the New York State Health Foundation, to support more than 120 resident leaders in eight communities in New York State to successfully fundraise more than $228,500 in matched funding to implement 44 projects in just 12 months.

Funding from philanthropic institutions, like the New York State Health Foundation, incentivizes citizen participation as leaders, donors and volunteers, and builds personal investment, local knowledge, and long-term stewardship of local projects. 


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Healthier neighborhoods start with us!

ioby recognizes that the places we live, work, and play are the roots of understanding community health, economic equity, and environmental justice.

Research shows that social determinants like the distance from where we live to open space, public transit or a grocery store, our income, and our race can all impact our health (Kwate et al., 2009; Boardman et al., 2005). And new studies show that increases in active living and access to healthy food are major factors in saving lives and reducing healthcare costs (Rudolph, 2016).

Many organizations are responding to this issue with innovative strategies; for example, Dignity Health recently created a $100 million loan fund to develop affordable housing, provide job training, assist neighborhood revitalization, offer needed medical services, and build wealth in under served communities (Norris and Howard, 2015)

This is an important step forward. Yet, connecting these shifts in health policy to ongoing community-led work remains a challenge. In order ensure access to a healthy lifestyle is truly equitable across geographies, demographics, and income levels, it’s crucial to look to leadership from within our communities.

Residents have great ideas to make their communities healthier— building new urban farms in food deserts, making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians of all ages, or activating public spaces for recreation. Unfortunately, these leaders have traditionally been an underfunded, overlooked source of solutions. To truly bolster strong community leadership in health and resiliency, we must provide resources at the neighborhood scale.

ioby’s match funding model incentivizes local citizens with ideas for improving their community to step forward, share their vision with their neighbors, and take action. With match funding for financial support, and ioby’s training resources and one-on-one coaching for technical support, a match funding opportunity can be the right motivation to move an individual to action.

In 2016 and 2017, ioby partnered with the New York State Health Foundation to support their Building Healthy Communities program, aimed at improving health outcomes in eight priority communities throughout New York State -- including Brownsville, Brooklyn; East Harlem and the Lower East Side in Manhattan; Claremont/Morrisania, Hunts Point, and Mott Haven in the South Bronx; the North End neighborhoods of Niagara Falls, and the rural Clinton County.

Together, we enabled over 40 neighborhood projects throughout the state to promote community health and wellness from the ground up, and strengthen leaders taking an active role to create a culture of health in their neighborhoods.


ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge


Supporting Neighborhood Health Leaders

ioby improves the capacity of residents to advocate and fundraise for their work, and helps build fundraising skills and confidence that will last a lifetime. Every leader in the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge worked with a Leader Success Strategist, one of ioby’s experienced in-house fundraising coaches, to support them in running an effective campaign and to teach best practices along the way.

In the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge, ioby also provided on-ramps into fundraising and neighborhood leadership through free, public workshop and webinar trainings. In summer 2016 and early spring 2017, ioby provided seven in-person workshops, including at least one workshop accessible to all of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge priority communities, which were attended by a total of 92 residents looking to learn more about civic crowdfunding. In-person workshops were supplemented with seven webinar trainings, attended by a total of 76 neighborhood health leaders with project ideas. 


ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge

ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge

One Challenge, Many Solutions

Of the 44 ioby Leaders of the 2016-2017 Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge, some participants were established local organizations, working hand-in-hand with residents to build a culture of health from the ground up. They used the Challenge to fill critical funding gaps, pilot creative initiatives, or provide new opportunities for their networks to support them. Many participants were resident neighborhood leaders in health, with great ideas for their community, who used the Challenge as a way to amplify and strengthen their local work. Others were residents who had never considered fundraising for or implementing a community health initiative before hearing about the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge, who were taking action on their ideas for the first time.

All 44 of these exemplary leaders possess deep knowledge of their neighborhoods, personal connections to the health crises and challenges their communities face, and share a passion for creating a stronger culture of health with and for their communities. 


ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge



Healthy Neighborhood Challenge Projects Across the State

ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challengeioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge

ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge

ioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challengeioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challengeioby Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge


Lasting Impacts

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for health inequity, and the leaders of the 44 Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge projects demonstrated this through the incredible variety of their approaches to improving neighborhood health outcomes.

In this model, the amount raised by a campaign is not an isolated indicator of success. Participants were able to set fundraising goals that matched the scale of their projects and immediate funding needs. For some, $500 provided meaningful support for their first-time pop-up event; for others, raising over $20,000 allowed them to expand existing public programs, or pilot ideas that were difficult to fund through traditional philanthropy. Some participants were residents with absolutely no fundraising experience, while others were experienced nonprofit fundraisers diversifying their funding streams with community crowdfunding.

The goals of the project leaders in the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge were as varied as the communities in which their projects took place. Success was self-defined differently by various leaders, some aiming to draw neighbors to a fitness event for the first time, others to make ongoing food access programs more sustainable, expand greenspaces, or add active-living amenities to their neighborhood’s built environment.

Some 2016 and 2017 projects are still in planning or early implementation phases, but of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge participants that have already fully implemented their projects, nearly 100% report that their project met its immediate goals.

The leaders of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge each stepped up to promote health in locally significant ways, each of them responding to community need and planting the seeds of lasting change. Improving social determinants of health within a community is a complex process in which the knowledge and agency of residents themselves is key. Solving this multipronged problem requires a diversity of tactics, including the commitment and creativity of community members themselves, shaping a healthier future together.

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