A Funder Puts $100K into a Quest for Ideas to Create a Healthier New York

We've been seeing more crowdsourcing grantmaking efforts around the country, as a growing number of funders come to see the merit of this strategy. A second trend that we’ve been seeing a lot of lately is that health funders are taking an increasingly broader approach to grantmaking, looking "upstream" at how to create healthier communities. 

This grant story falls into both of these categories, as an interesting health opportunity has come up in New York City as well as the far outer reaches of New York State.

Related: Why Is This Health Funder Supporting Affordable Housing in New York City?

The New York State Health Foundation recently gave $100,000 to boost a crowdsourcing initiative devised by In Our Backyards, called the Healthy Neighborhood Challenge. The goals of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge is to benefit residents of New York by making specific regions greener, safer, and healthier. 

These are the areas in New York State that can get in on the action right now:

  • North End, Niagara Falls
  • Brownsville, Brooklyn
  • Claremont/Morrisania, Bronx
  • Hunts Point, Bronx
  • Mott Haven, Bronx
  • Lower East Side, Manhattan
  • East Harlem, Manhattan
  • Clinton County, New York

Not only is NYS Health putting up $100,000 for the initiative now, but it’s also promised to give challenge winners up to $5,000 in matching funds to set their ideas into motion. The challenge is open to applications now, and this matching fund opportunity will open up on March 1, 2017. Once again this funder is putting its money towards broad implications of health by funding a wide range of local causes through this campaign.

These are the types of projects In Our Backyard and NYS Health are looking for right now:

  • Hiking and walking trails
  • Bike safety courses
  • Community fitness classes
  • Healthy cooking classes
  • School gardens
  • Equipment for local sports teams
  • School cafeteria healthy eating campaigns

This means that there are a ton of opportunities for local groups various parts of New York right now, that is, if you can get behind the crowdfunding mindset and embrace this growing trend.

In Our Backyards Partnerships Manager Ethany Uttech shared:

We aim to support around 50 projects statewide this summer but are not earmarking funds for any specific communities. We expect to be able to support the majority of the projects that apply and will make an effort to ensure funds are spread across the state's priority communities. [Such projects] must be for a specific upcoming initiative, such as an event, program or infrastructure improvement that will be fully implemented by May 2017 at latest, but ideally within 2016. 

You can submit your ideas for the campaign by August 1, and teams of at least two or three people are encouraged to step up their crowdfunding skills to gather the most public support and win. Check out the FAQ page and application on In Our Backyards’ website.

In addition to NYS Health, you can see a list of other funders who have supported this crowdfunding effort on the nonprofit’s website. A few current ones that stand out to us are the Kresge Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Ford Foundation, and the Hyde Family Foundation.

In other news, NYS Health is also accepting RFPs for community-based organizations and health departments to attend or present at conferences about how to build healthy communities. These conferences can take place in New York or elsewhere, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis through June 30, 2017.