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Ioby Partners with Deutsche Bank to Fund Projects by Community Development Corporations

   /   Jan 31st, 2012News

ioby, the first and only online micro-funding platform dedicated to promoting civic urban environmental projects, recently announced partnership with Deutsche Bank, who will match donations made to ioby for all projects led by Community Development Corporations (CDCs) in New York City.

CDCs, non-profit organizations commissioned to provide services or programs in a certain geographic location, are a particularly good way for ioby to deepen its focus on local solutions to environmental problems in communities. “Any New Yorker can post their project on ioby, but we have a special interest in supporting the ideas and initiatives of New Yorkers in neighborhoods that have a greater burden of environmental problems and fewer resources to address them,” says Erin Barnes, executive director and co-founder of ioby, in a press release about the partnership with Deutsche Bank.

“This partnership came about through conversations with Deutsche Bank about how our mass campaigns were working for us. Deutsche Bank has long been dedicated to working with CDCs. When I was saying to Sam Marks, the program officer we work with at Deutsche Bank, how match campaigns work with ioby, he immediately drew the conclusion that [we could work with] CDCs, since their target focus is the neighborhood level, and that would be a perfect opportunity for ioby to improve its reach,” Barnes, told Dowser.

“CDCs bring a comprehensive point of view to neighborhood development, and in many neighborhoods, they are playing a leading role engaging their constituents in local environmental issues,” said Marks, the Vice President, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, in ioby’s press release.  “We were compelled by the notion that ioby could provide a platform to allow CDCs to take advantage of grassroots crowd-resourcing for block-level sustainability projects aligned with their broader community visions.”

Two innovative projects will lead off the match campaign. The Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC) is working on raising $5,940 for an urban farm in the low-income East New York/Cypress Hills neighborhood of Brooklyn. The project, Pollos Del Pueblo, will transform an unused, city-owned vacant lot into a resource for the community, by installing a chicken coop, a chicken run, a storage shed, and a community compost station.

Pollos del Pueblo will provide healthy food in a food desert.

“East New York/Cypress Hills is a food desert. Fresh, nutritious food is hard, if not impossible to come by out here. The result is a devastating health crisis where a third of adults are obese and 19% have diabetes. Additionally, more than half of residents live below the poverty line, unemployment is a high 19% and more than 80% of students qualify for free lunch,” said Betsy MacLean, Director of Community Development, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.

“This project and grassroots fundraising campaign offer the opportunity to take a real blight on the community – one of many vacant, overgrown lots – and transform it into a site for exciting, important community building and expanded access to fresh food – including organic eggs.” added MacLean.

The second pilot project will be a partnership between Living City Block Gowanus and the Gowanus Community Development Corporation. The Gowanus neighborhood is the site of the Gowanus Canal, which was declared a polluted and hazardous Superfund site in 2010. These groups will together host a series of design charettes and contests, with the goal of creating the best wayfinding signs for visitors and residents of the Gowanus neighborhood. “The signs will lead pedestrians, cyclists and car traffic to various green infrastructure sites in the area, such as bike racks, solar panels, bioswales and micro-wind turbines,” according to ioby’s press release.

The polluted Gowanus Canal (Brooklyn, NY), a superfund site.

“Gowanus has a special culture of its own, and the community should play a role in creating and designating the interest spots of the neighborhood,” said Llewelyn Wells, president and founder, Living City Block. “Since the entire process of the project is about citizen engagement, the fundraising for it will be, too.”

ioby’s crowdfunding efforts so far fully funding nearly 100 projects in all five boroughs of New York City through small, individual donations. The average donation is $35 and the average project budget is $1,200.

“The Obama campaign in 2008 helped people see how they could fund the things they believed in by pooling large numbers of small donations. Typically the wealthy gave charity–now people can support change in the very neighborhoods they live in. It shifts the ideology from hand-outs to community engagement,” said Barnes. Most ioby micro-donors live within two miles of the project they are supporting, which helps foster a local sense of community and responsibility.

“After finding matching campaigns to be a very effective way for us to support the work of ioby’s project leaders, we couldn’t be happier about this initiative,” said Brandon Whitney, COO and co-founder of ioby, in the press release. “Matches embolden project leaders and micro-donors alike.”

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