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VOL. 132 | NO. 23 | Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ioby Helps Raise $600,000 for Community Restoration Projects

By Patrick Lantrip

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When you walk into the Clayborn Temple in Downtown Memphis, it’s obvious that the 126-year-old church has seen better days, but also laying under the imposing ruins of its enormous pipe organ is a sense of hope.

Community leaders met at Clayborn Temple Saturday to foster collaboration between the projects ioby helps fund in Memphis.

(Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)

While efforts to restore the historic church still have a long way to go, the former staging ground for the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis finally seems ready to rise from the ashes after decades of neglect.

So it seemed fitting that ioby chose this locale to host a “convening” of Memphis area community leaders who have used the nonprofit crowd-funding platform to help fund their own neighborhood restoration projects.

“What we’re doing today is convening a lot of people who have projects in Memphis and asking them to get together and share their ideas and their vision for what Memphis could be like,” said Erin Barnes, the Brooklyn-based co-founder and executive director of ioby, which stands for “In Our Backyards.”

Since ioby began operations in the Bluff City 2 1/2 years ago, it has raised $610,000 to fund 203 individual projects in neighborhoods across Memphis.

“Most projects are in VECA, Orange Mound and Binghampton, but they are all over the place,” Barnes said. “We have projects in South Memphis, Frayser, The Pinch, The Edge, Midtown and Cooper-Young.”

With an average donation of $35 and an average budget of $2,897, ioby is able to allocate funds for a wide variety of community restoration projects such as new greenways, new parks, public transit enchantments, school restorations, bicycle collaboratives and basketball court restorations.

The goal of ioby’s weekend convening was to encourage the individual projects to learn from each other and work together to create something bigger than they could if they were on their own.

“There are things that ioby can do that sort of help this feel like a collective,” Ellen Roberds, ioby’s senior city action strategist for Memphis, said. “We do a lot of work to lift up stories online, so this is sort of an attempt to do it in person.”

Projects that ioby helps fund vary greatly in intent and greatly in scope, ranging from the $70,000 that was raised to help fund the Hampline (ioby’s inaugural project in the city) to a $500 campaign near Carnes Elementary School to get Carnes Garden caretaker James Alsobrook a new lawnmower.

One of the projects ioby funded was a series of murals in the Vollintine and Evergreen neighborhood created by artist Khara Woods and her mother, fellow artist NJ Woods.

“We collaborated on the mural together back in 2015 and we raised some funds through ioby,” Woods said. “And just this fall I finished my own project.”

For those two projects alone, ioby helped Woods and her mother raise almost $2,000 combined.

“It’s nice to have a way to raise funds and make connections to get some of the ideas that you want to see in your neighborhood come to fruition,” she said.

The full breakdown of ioby’s Memphis Impact report can be found here.

PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367