Local School Greening Projects Get a Helping Hand

NYC Eco-Schools Stuyvesant High School wants to set up vertical gardens in five classrooms for 650 students. Photo: Marissa Maggio.
For their ioby project, NYC Eco-School Stuyvesant High School wants to set up vertical gardens in five science classrooms. Photo: Marissa Maggio.
There are 140 Eco-Schools across the five boroughs of New York City; many have fantastic school greening initiatives that need funding. Whether it’s starting a recycling program, creating an urban wildlife habitat garden, building a green roof, or restoring oysters to New York Harbor, NYC Eco-Schools wants to help these schools get the funds they need to succeed.

Enter ioby, which stands for “In Our Backyard” — the opposite of “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY). ioby is an environmental nonprofit co-founded by Erin Barnes, Cassie Flynn, and Brandon Whitney, all graduates of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  ioby’s mission is to connect people working on local environmental projects in their neighborhoods with community members who can support them, financially and otherwise, by donating time or goods and services.

ioby provides a “crowd-resourcing” web-based platform that allows groups, including schools, to post their specific cause or project online, and collect donations. Some of the projects ioby has helped bring to life include school gardens and greenhouses, solar farms on rooftops, and recycling education projects.  During fundraising campaigns, which typically last three months, ioby staff members help answer questions and follow up on projects to track their impact but they aren’t involved in their implementation.  ioby provides support, like free webinars at ioby.org/tour, to help individuals and groups become effective fundraisers. Guided by the belief that lots of small actions produce big results, ioby has helped raise almost half a million dollars for community-based projects across the country, with average individual donations of $35, most coming from within two miles of a project’s location.  With over 27,000 people per square mile, NYC’s population density offers some great fundraising opportunities!

Ioby Offers Fundraising Coaching to NYC Eco-Schools

For their ioby project, NYC Eco-School IS204 wants to create an "Urban Wildlife Habitat."
For their ioby project, NYC Eco-School IS204 wants to create an “Urban Wildlife Habitat.” Photo: Leanne Korber.
ioby and NYC Eco-Schools both share the vision of stronger, greener schools and communities, and have teamed up to help teachers, administrators, parents and students learn how to tap into those fundraising opportunities. During the 2012-13 school year, ioby offered NYC Eco-Schools free webinars and an in-person fundraising workshop. ioby has also provided their unique digital platform to all NYC Eco-Schools projects through a dedicated NYC Eco-Schools page, so schools can raise funds and recruit the volunteers they need.

Three schools on the page — MS88, PS107 and PS33 — have already raised the funds they needed.  It’s always great to see the creative ways in which schools publicize their projects, as in this short video by MS88 teacher Keith Christiansen, which shows how that school’s garden project became a reality.

In September, ioby and NYC Eco-Schools will launch a new pilot project together: a 10-week “Back to School Fundraising” coaching program. The program will be offered to 15 NYC Eco-Schools on a first-come-first-served basis and has been designed for individuals who are ready to commit to becoming effective fundraisers for their NYC Eco-Schools projects. The program will include support, specialized tools and assistance — including webinars, workshops, individualized phone support, and templates — to help participants move through the campaign together at an effective pace.  Schools will be guided on using social media and other platforms to gain visibility for their projects and attract donations.

Working together, ioby and NYC Eco-Schools hope to see school greening projects flourish across the five boroughs!

NYC Eco-Schools: Register for ioby’s “Back to School Fundraising” Program

To become a registered Eco-School visit the Eco-Schools USA website and register free online.  If you’re already a NYC Eco-School and you’re interested in ioby’s 10-week “Back to School Fundraising” program, contact Emily Fano at fanoe@nwf.org.  Three information sessions will be held the third week of September to provide more details about the program. Schools must register to participate in the program by Monday, September 30th.  To post your project on ioby’s NYC Eco-Schools page, contact Brandon Whitney at projects@ioby.org.