One nonprofit is asking residents in neighborhoods across New York City and New York State to open their minds and come up with ideas that will bring change right to their backyards.
In partnership with the New York State Health Foundation, the nonprofit In Our Backyards — also known as ioby — has launched a neighborhood challenge looking for project ideas aimed at creating healthier, safer and greener communities.
The challenge — which provides $100,000 in matching grants — is open to residents in six neighborhoods in New York City — including Brownsville, Claremont, East Harlem, Hunts Point, the Lower East Side and Morrisania — and three areas in upstate New York.
According to Lourdes Rodriguez, program officer for the NYS Health Foundation, the neighborhoods were selected for this challenge because they showed poor health outcomes and received low health rankings in the state. The areas are also ones that already have a large community involvement, which can be used to implement programs or spread awareness.
“From the beginning we place a lot of value in resident-driven change because to assume neighborhoods need to be rescued from themselves is really a wrong assumption,” Rodriguez said. “The piece to build a better community comes from within itself.”
There is not limit to what an idea can be and can include improved access to healthy affordable foods; promote walking, biking or other forms of exercise; creative nutrition classes and creating community gardens.
According to Katie Lorah, director of communications and creative strategy for ioby, the length of the idea is also not an issue and one-day festivals or fairs are also encouraged.
“The ideas are that they happen quickly and by making a small change that is physical, they can spark a large conversation,” Lorah said. “We are very open to things that are not permanent but play a catalyzing role in the community.”
All applications must offer a positive impact on the public health of residents within the communities selected; be implemented before May 2017; request from $250 to $5,000 in matching funds; include a team or three or more people working on the project; and be resident-led.
Once winners are selected, ioby — which since 2009 has been offering an online platform for individuals across the country to have access to crowdfunding and resources in their communities — will help individuals plan, crowdfund and later carry out their projects.
The group will train individuals on project planning, online fundraising and also guide them through their fundraising process. All funds up to $5,000 will be matched through the partnership with the NYS Health Foundation, all summing up to a total of $100,000.
“We are encouraging people to think creatively on how to make their neighborhood healthier,” Lorah said.