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The West / Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation is a network of broad-based institutional organizations building power to revitalize our democracy for constructive social and economic change. We are part of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation's first and largest network of community organizations.

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Read below for recent victories. Click here for more extensive News Coverage.


RECENT VICTORIES & PROGRESS

July 6, 2018

San Antonio Catholic Archbishop Calls for Action on Immigration

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[Excerpts below]

Immigration was the urgent topic when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS took the stage at COPS/Metro's "A Cry for Justice and a Call to Action" assembly at Our Lady of the Lake University on June 18, 2018. "We live in very challenging times. Basic institutions of justice are being attacked. People are suffering needlessly," the archbishop declared to a packed auditorium. "This is a time of crisis. We have to make a decision. Do we go along with or challenge these trends?"

The assembly, which had been months in the planning, took on an air of urgency and drew a standing-room-only crowd as it coincided with a particularly tense week in the nation's debate on immigration policy. News had just broken of the Trump administration's policy of separating detained children from their parents - a policy Archbishop Gustavo strongly condemned in his speech as "immoral," "evil," and sinful," echoing similar sentiments expressed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops....

After [hearing a challenge by the Bishop and a DACA participant], faith communities caucused in small groups, then they answered... by pledging to collect 11,500 postcards to be mailed to Texas' congressional representatives in Washington. Archbishop Gustavo took the symbolic first step of signing his name on the first postcards, which will be mailed to Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn."

Archbishop Gustavo Urges Action on Immigration at COPS / Metro Assembly, Today's Catholic

San Antonio Archbishop Calls Separation of Families Immoral, Evil and Sinful, NOWCastSA [pdf]


June 21, 2018

Together Baton Rouge Wins Pay Hike for Teachers, Bus Drivers

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After a hard fight, Together Baton Rouge and allies won a salary increase for every teacher, para-professional, bus operator or other East Baton Rouge school district employee with two or more years at the district.

According to The Advocate: "As they have at several previous meetings, employee groups — Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union and the East Baton Rouge Bus Driver’s Association — pressed once again for raises for all the district employees. The groups have joined forces with the faith-based group Together Baton Rouge to press the issue as well as to push the school system to reject all future requests from manufacturers for property tax breaks via the state’s 80-year-old Industrial Tax Exemption Program. They want the school system to use any ITEP savings to increase employees pay."

Leaders commended the school board and Superintendent Drake for this action, while acknowledging that more work remains to be done to secure salaries. In their words: "this was a big, big step."

[Photo Credit: The Advocate]

EBR School Board OK's $473M Budget, The Advocate [pdf]


June 20, 2018

IAF Calls for Quick Reunification of 2,000+ Children with Families

[Excerpt below from Rio Grande Guardian report:]

Reaction to President Trump’s executive order on the separation of immigrant families has been swift, with most community groups and elected officials opposing the “zero tolerance” policy.

Trump made the announcement that he was changing policy on Wednesday, June 20, which was designated World Refugee Day by the United Nations. He directed the Department of Homeland Security not to separate families as they await immigration proceedings.

The Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s oldest network of Broad Based Community Organizations, with over 75 organizations throughout the United States representing hundreds of thousands of families, issued this statement:

“The Trump Administration needs to immediately stop and desist from further separation of immigrant children and their parents, quickly reunite those 2,000 family members, and begin a humane approach to border security and immigration reform. While the president may soon reverse part of this policy, it is important that the victimized children be cared for respectfully and appropriately, including inspection of the detention facilities by local clergy and health providers.”

1806_-_RGG_-_WXSW_-_Father_Kevin_Collins.jpgFr. Kevin Collins, OMI, of Valley Interfaith-IAF, and pastor of St. Eugene de Mazenod Church in Brownsville, Texas, said: “The ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy promulgated by the Attorney General and the Trump Administration is nothing short of cruel. It is un-American to separate children from their parents.” Collins is pictured [right].

Rabbi John Linder, of Valley Interfaith Project-IAF and Senior Rabbi of Temple Solel of Paradise Valley, Arizona, said:

“Forcibly taking children from their mothers and fathers, is nothing short of government-sanctioned child abuse. Where will this stop? Children in cages, tent cities. What’s next? Every elected official at the local, state, and national level must tell the administration that this brutality cannot be tolerated. The lack of political will on all sides for balanced, comprehensive immigration reform is responsible for this mess. Children are never to be used as political pawns. The Trump Administration has crossed a moral line.”

Fr. Mike Walsh of Holy Trinity Parish in Dallas, TX, with Dallas Area Interfaith-IAF, said:

“It’s stunning that we are perpetrating something so horrible for families. This is the 21st century, and our government is placing children in penned cages. We’re a better country than this.”

Maria Elena Manzo, leader with Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA), in Salinas, California, said:

“Virtually every moral voice and authority is denouncing these administrative actions. This is horrifying. What can be more sacred than the family? It is torture to take children away from their parents.”

Full Statement Here Trump Caves, Plenty of Reaction, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]

*** *** *** *** ***

At a COPS/Metro Alliance assembly on June 18, San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller called the separation of immigrant families at the border "immoral", "evil" and "sinful."

[Top Image Credit: NOWCastSA footage]

How Catholics are Helping Immigrant Children Separated from their Parents, America [pdf]

Catholic Bishops Across US Condemn Separation of Migrant Children, America [pdf]

San Antonio Archbishop Calls Separation of Families Immoral, Evil and Sinful, NOWCastSA [pdf]


June 13, 2018

Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith Wins Battles Against Unaccountable Tax Giveaways in Caddo Parish & Beyond

Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith leaders celebrated significant progress in how Caddo-area public officials weigh decisions related to public monies and the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP).

As a result of a tenacious local effort, leaders in Caddo Parish succeeded in persuading Sheriff Steve Prator (R) to become the first elected official in the state to deny an ITEP request under the Governor's Executive Order. Caddo School Board soon followed, rejecting Inferno's ITEP request by a vote of 7-5. Even after the Caddo School Board President called a special session to reconsider Inferno's request, the board rejected the request -- again.

After Sheriff Prator rejected all ITEP applications by Calumet, the Caddo Board attorney attempted to rewrite board policy to automatically accept all ITEP applications presented. NCLI successfully defeated the motion.

The City of Shreveport eventually approved a separate ITEP request by Calumet but, after intervention by the leadership of NCLI, reduced the approval to only 31-50% of the request.

Seeing the writing on the wall, the Chamber of Commerce then attempted to present a matrix to the School Board to use as a guide when considering future requests. But NCLI was quick to respond with their own matrix, presented to the Board by Reverend Theron Jackson. The School Board eventually integrated NCLI demands into a revised matrix.

Not blind to what was going on, nearby Bossier Parish School Board and Police Jury decided to bypass the controversy and reject Calumet's ITEP request outright!

After two years of hard work on tax exemptions in Louisiana, Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith leaders are proud of their work and looking to shift their attention to other pressing issues impacting their communities.

City Resolution on Calumet

ITEP Matrix, Caddo Parish School Board

Calumet Estimated Property Taxes, Updated


June 6, 2018

Valley Interfaith & Bishop Daniel Flores Leverage 2 Signers for DACA Discharge Petition, Target Third Congressional Rep

Less than four months after Valley Interfaith delivered 10,000 letters calling on Rio Grande Valley lawmakers to take action on DACA, US Congressional Representatives Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) announced they will sign a petition in an effort to force the House to take up immigration bills. Both said they would sign Discharge Petition #10, which will set up a "Queen of the Hill" process to consider four bills that would address the uncertain status of DACA recipients. The bill that receives the largest number of votes in support will pass.

In a statement, Vela credited his decision to "consultation with Dreamers, their parents, clergy and Bishop Daniel Flores." Valley Interfaith, with Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, successfully lobbied the two congressmen.

Said Pastor Bill Duke, "with Reps. Vela and Gonzalez joining onto the discharge petition, we are still 3 signatures shy of the 218 needed to bring this to the floor. We are discouraged that Congressman Cuellar has maintained his stance and urge all residents who live within his district to call him and urge him to support the discharge petition. As pastor of First United Methodist Church in Mission, I call on him to support the Discharge Petition and to let democracy work!"

After thanking Valley Interfaith for keeping "a congressional solution to the DACA situation at the forefront of the local community," Catholic Bishop Daniel E. Flores acknowledged that the road ahead is very long. But he reaffirmed, "This is a commitment to our young people that they are not alone — to give them the opportunity to do what they want to do to share their talents for the good of the whole community....We seek a permanent solution to the limbo so many (Dreamers) are going through right now."

Pressure Grows on Cuellar to Support Discharge Petition, Rio Grande Guardian

KVEO Video Coverage

Valley Interfaith Asking Cuellar to Sign DACA Petition, Valley Morning Star

Valley Lawmakers Sign Petition to Force Vote on DACA Bills, The Monitor

Valley Interfaith Pushes Lawmakers to Support DACA, Valley Morning Star

Bishop Daniel E. Flores' Video Testimony, Catholic Diocese of Brownsville


May 7, 2018

North Texas Police Accept DAI-Negotiated Parish ID Cards

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After passage of Senate Bill 4, according to Father Michael Forge of Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch, several undocumented parishioners told him that they felt unsafe going to church or taking their kids to school. One year later, his church, with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, is making parish identification cards available to his parishioners.

Building on a groundbreaking accord between Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) and the Police Departments of Dallas, Carrollton and Farmers Branch — in which the police agreed to accept parish identification cards as alternative ID — upwards of 1,100 parish ID cards have been issued since the campaign was launched. With some parishes requiring active membership from applicants for at least six months before issuing the card, the waiting list of submitted applications has, so far, exceeded 2,200 applicants and is expected to grow.

This joint effort with the Catholic Diocese is bringing immigrants out of the shadows and into fuller participation in congregational life. At San Diego Diego Catholic, 1,000 applicants were newly registered as members of their parish, even after years of regular church attendance. Teams of leaders identified by DAI, and trained (in Spanish) through a collaborative effort with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), help keep the cost of the parish IDs affordable for families.

Nearly 300 parishioners of San Juan Diego Catholic Church lined up by 8am on one Saturday morning to apply for a church-issued ID. Five hours later, 500 applications were filed by parish leaders and 300 cards issued that day.

Without an ID, said one parishioner, "we are scared of what could happen if we are stopped by the police." With parish ID, families are feeling a greater sense of belonging and confidence in dealing with law enforcement.

Said DAI leader, Adriana Godinez, "For us, this is a really important document. We cannot take it lightly. It's something that person is going to show to an officer."

In training sessions held this month, police departments have committed to training their officers to recognize these cards as alternative identification. Dallas County Community College has also committed to accepting the IDs, for purposes of enrolling in GED, US Citizenship and English-language classes.

According to one applicant, Antonio Coahila, "It's a bit of a relief. It's like you finally have an identity."

Church in Texas Issues IDs to Help the Undocumented Navigate Police Encounters, America

Why Some Parishes are Offering IDs to Undocumented Texas, Catholic News Agency

North Texas Officers Accepting Church Issued ID Cards, NBC-DFW

Dallas-Area Immigrants Apply for Catholic Church-Issued IDs to Ease Deportation Fears, Dallas Morning News

Iglesias Dan Credenciales a Indocumentados, Dallas Al Día

Crean Identificación Para Ayudar a Inmigrantes en el Metroplex, Telemundo 39

Message from Chief of Farmers Branch Police Department

Additional Background


April 13, 2018

Dallas Catholic Diocese, DAI Stop Deportation of Father of Six

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When Fr. Daza of Nuestra Señora del Pilar Catholic Church heard that his parishioner, Adolfo Mejia, was in deportation proceedings, he immediately picked up the phone and called Dallas Area Interfaith.

"It's the children who suffer," said Fr. Daza.

Together with the Dallas Catholic Diocese, DAI is standing with the Mejia family -- including Adolfo's wife, Lucia, and six US-born children.

"This is not a time for isolation," said DAI organizer Socorro Perales, who went to immigration court with the mother. "This is a time to build relationships. It is not over yet."

 

US Citizen Kids Face the Deportation of Their Immigrant Parents, Dallas Morning News

Deportación de Padres Traumatiza a Niños, Dallas Al Día

 


April 4, 2018

 

AMOS-Initiated Skate Park for Youth Gets $1M Closer to Reality

Years ago, AMOS initiated conversations with families about what was needed for local youth. The answer that emerged was surprising: a large, well-developed skate park that could provide multiple outdoor recreational activities. For years, skateboarders had turned a public plaza into an ad hoc skatevpark, sometimes — to the consternation of police and adults — turning sculptures and handrails into skateboard ramps. AMOS leaders identified a location in Des Moines and leveraged resources for the park design -- which, when built, will be one of the largest in the United States.

The $3.5 Million skate park is now $1 Million closer to construction, thanks to the generosity of a local family foundation. AMOS celebrated the advance in a press conference, and expects the project to break ground in early 2019.

Des Moines Regional Skatepark is Becoming 'a Reality', Des Moines Register

Lauridsen's $1 Million Donation Lifts Skate Park Campaign, Business Record

Des Moines Skate Park Press Release

 


March 12, 2018

 

VIDA Training Effectiveness Recognized by National Study

One of nine workforce development programs evaluated under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) was selected as one of the most effective programs as measured by retention, graduation and employment. Findings from the study were revealed at South Texas College's Pecan Campus and celebrated by Senator Juan 'Chuy' Hinojosa and leaders from VIDA and Valley Interfaith. The study was a blind study -- essentially comparing what happened to 500 students who enrolled in VIDA and 500 students who enrolled in other programs.

VIDA is a long-term workforce development program established by Valley Interfaith and modeled after the nationally renowned Project QUEST in San Antonio. In a video produced by Valley Central , San Juanita Sanchez describes how VIDA helped her return to college after 20 years to finish her degree in social work.

 

VIDA: Implementation and Early Impact Report, Pathways for Advancing Careers in Education

VIDA Wins Recognition for Helping Low- Income Individuals Improve Education, Rio Grande Guardian

National Study Shows Impact of VIDA, Valley Central

Editorial: RGV Education Program for Low-Income Gets Worthy National Praise, The Monitor

 


March 6, 2018

 

NCLI Leads Second Local Rejection of Industrial Tax Break

For the first time in the history of Louisiana's Industrial Tax Exemption Program, a school board rejected an application in order to preserve public funding for its schools. Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith (NCLI) leaders and Caddo Parish teachers spoke passionately at a Caddo Parish School Board meeting, asking board members to "put the students first." As a result, the Board voted to deny exemptions from school board taxes for Inferno Manufacturing, Inc.

NCLI and Together Louisiana have worked hard to bring public accountability to tax exemptions under this program, helping make it possible for local taxing bodies to decide for themselves whether or not to forgo the public funds involved. Caddo Parish School Board joins the Caddo Parish Sheriff to become the second public entity in Louisiana to use that power judiciously.

Caddo School Board Denies Industrial Tax Exemption, Shreveport Times

 


February 20, 2018

 

NCLI Effort Leads to First Local Rejection of Industrial Tax Break

Fighting a four-front battle to better invest local public funds, Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith (NCLI) leaders recently persuaded the Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator to become the first local official in state history to use the newly-granted local authority to reject an industrial tax exemption request.

This month, three more local entities – Caddo Parish, the City of Shreveport, and the Caddo Parish School Board – will vote on multi-million dollar tax exemption requests, one application at a time.

Leaders called on the Caddo Economic Development Board to better invest its economic development dollars in human infrastructure (PreK-12 and long-term workforce development), as well as in systems for drainage, sewage, clean air and water.

 

In a First, Louisiana Sheriff Rejects Tax Break for Local Business - A Move That Has Business Leaders Concerned, The Advocate

Letter from Caddo Parish Sheriff Regarding Tax Exemptions for Inferno Manufacturing

 


February 14, 2018

 

Power of Together Baton Rouge Recognized by Business Journal

Those who had considered TBR little more than an annoyance suddenly realized it was a force with which to be reckoned. The gloves came off....

 

Who is Baton Rouge...and Why Has It Driven So Many in the Community Apart?, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

Additional background and press

 


January 15, 2018

 

Bishop Flores, Valley Interfaith Celebrate New Las Milpas Library

In the largest celebration of multiple events, Bishop Daniel E. Flores blessed the opening of a new library in Las Milpas, surrounded by Valley Interfaith leaders, children from Carmen Anaya Elementary School and other community supporters. An assembly chronicled the community-driven effort that went into changing the political culture of South Texas, reflected in the construction of the new library that leaders had fought for and won.

Three years prior, Valley Interfaith leaders signed up 1,000 new voters to a community-driven agenda that included the construction of a new library in low-income Las Milpas, the organization of a nonpartisan accountability assembly at one of the local churches and an election upset that replaced a non-responsive mayor and city commission with a slate of new officials that understood what they had to do to stay in office.

The first meeting of the new City Commission in 2015 included all of Valley Interfaith's 6-point agenda and was passed with overwhelming support. Said the then-new Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, "Valley Interfaith has a machine in place and I want to be re-elected. Let's build this library exactly how the community wants it."

The library opened in 2018 to community acclaim. City Commissioner Ramiro Caballero declared, "What VIF leaders did here in Pharr, we need you all to go out and train other citizens in other towns, cities, and county commissioner districts, and teach them to do what you did here with Pharr."

 

Bishop Flores to Bless New Las Milpas Library, Rio Grande Guardian

Historic Day for Las Milpas as Public Library is Officially Opened, Rio Grande Guardian

South Pharr Gets New City Facility: Development and Research Center to Offer Residents a Variety of Services, The Monitor

Las Milpas: A Case Study in How Civic Engagement Can Improve a Community, Rio Grande Guardian

Additional Background on 2015 Effort

Coverage of 2015 Accountability Assembly

Additional photos

 


December 19, 2017

 

Marin Organizing Committee Wins Major Step for Renter Protection

Less than a year after kicking off an organizing effort to address eviction threats in Marin County, the Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) won a significant victory.

On December 12, in response to pressure from MOC leaders, the Marin Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to support a mandatory mediation program for renters. The ordinance will require mediation when requested by a tenant or landlord for rent increases exceeding 5% per year. The ordinance would apply to unincorporated areas of Marin County which include approximately 8,300 renter-occupied units. About 1 in 4 of those renters pay more than 50% of household income on rent.

70+ members of MOC attended two hearings, speaking in support of this much needed program. "From our perspective, housing is not merely another commodity," said Rev. Thomas Gable (featured in above photo), "stable, affordable housing is the bedrock of life and well-being".

While MOC considers this an insufficient step toward meaningful protections for renters, leaders are pleased that this mandatory mediation ordinance passed. They plan to continue pressuring the Board of Supervisors to pass a Just Cause Eviction ordinance as well, out of concern that without such an ordinance, renters will be too afraid to ask for mediation when faced with a rent increase, since they could then be evicted without cause.

Pressure and presence from the Marin Organizing Committee helped advance the time frame in which Supervisors will consider a Just Cause eviction. Rather than wait a year, as originally intended, the Board directed staff to craft a plan for increased code enforcement and community education within three months, and then again in the second quarter of 2018 with a draft Just Cause eviction ordinance.

MOC is continuing to work for similar protections in cities throughout Marin County where the majority of renters reside.

Marin Landlords to Enter Mediation Before Hiking Rents, Marin Independent Journal

 


December 18, 2017

 

Valley Interfaith Credited with Transforming Las Milpas

 

"Years back, when we went with 40 or 50 people and packed the city commission, Carmen Lopez, other leaders, and our youth, spoke before the commission," Anaya said. "Carmen was reminded she had three minutes to speak. When she was speaking, very eloquently in Spanish, she was interrupted by the previous mayor and told, can you speak English. If not, you need to sit down. That, in itself, gave so much anger to the community. We knew there was only one thing we could do and that was educate our voters and go out and vote."

The education of voters came through house meetings and accountability sessions, Anaya explained.

"The community came together and identified issues that mattered to the families, and particularly to the youth. We told the elected officials, we need parks, a library, a place to gather. At a key accountability session, two of city commissioners did not show up. One of them lost by 12 votes, the other by 40," Anaya said, referring back to the 2015 city council election campaign.

...

Said Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez: "All of Las Milpas is transformed, thanks in large part to Valley Interfaith. This group played a critical role in identifying the improvements the City of Pharr had to make, and I am sure they have done it throughout the Rio Grande Valley."

 

Las Milpas: A Case Study in How Civic Engagement Can Improve a Community, Rio Grande Guardian

Additional background here

 


November 10, 2017

 

Colorado IAF Organizing Effort Dramatically Improves Elementary School Academic Achievement in Brighton

One year ago the Colorado IAF, Brighton Education Association and Northern Hills Church initiated an organizing campaign at North Elementary School, the lowest ranking of all schools in the 27J School District. Over the course of the year, North demonstrated the largest improvement in academic scores of any school in the district and one of the highest in the state (see article below). As a result, North changed its academic status from "improvement" to "performance."

Leaders initially began by developing individual relationships between congregational members and educators, and then reaching out to parents through neighborhood walks and pancake breakfast gatherings. Together, they succeeded in establishing a before- and after-school care program for students and an intensive tutoring program that matched community volunteers -- mostly from Northern Hills Church, with students demonstrating the greatest academic need. North Elementary staff additionally pursued internal changes including the reorganization of instructional teams and changes to the Master Schedule to better incorporate literacy and math blocks.

School-based leaders expressed pride over the dramatic improvement in academic achievement and gratefulness for the partnership with Northern Hills Chapel.

More Students Graduate in 27J in 2017, Brighton Blade

Caring For Students Home By Home in Brighton, Colorado Education Association

 


November 9, 2017

 

'Together Louisiana' Secures Gubernatorial Pledge to Disclose Tax Exemption Applications for Greater Transparency

Industrial Tax Break Info to be Posted Online, Edwards Says, US News & World Report

Governor John Bel Edwards Orders Disclosure of Tax Break Applications, The Advocate

Governor Edwards Challenges Lawmakers to Specify Cuts to Offset Fiscal Cliff, Red River Radio

La. Governor Promises Greater Transparency for State's Industrial Tax Breaks Program, KLFY News

Edwards: Anti-Tax Lawmakers Should Detail $1B-Plus Cuts, Times Picayune

Mutual Admiration Society, WRKF

 


November 5, 2017

 

For Immigrants Without State ID, DAI Negotiates Acceptance of Parish ID with Dallas-Area Police Departments

For the first time in North Texas, immigrants without state ID will be allowed to use parish identification cards to identify themselves with Farmers Branch, Carrollton and Dallas Police Department officers. Dallas Area Interfaith leaders negotiated this ground breaking police department policy change in the aftermath of the passage of anti-immigrant State Senate Bill 4, in order to engender greater trust between police and immigrants.

More than 1,500 immigrant leaders filled the sanctuary at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch in a standing-room-only assembly of leaders across multiple faiths and denominations. Three women shared stories of anti-immigrant abuse and community fears about reporting crimes to the police while lacking access to state-issued IDs. Friar Luis Arraiza of Nuestra Señora de Lourdes and Fr. Mike Walsh of from Holy Trinity explicitly challenged the chiefs of Farmers Branch, Carrollton and Dallas Police Departments to publicly commit to accepting parish identification cards as a means of identifying oneself during a police stop. All three said, 'yes,' to thunderous applause.

The largest applause, however, was reserved for Catholic Bishop Edward Burns who pledged, "the Church will do whatever it needs to do to stand with immigrants."

Nine years prior, Farmers Branch was best-known for being the first Texas city to pass an anti-immigrant ordinance, which included fines for landlords renting to undocumented immigrants. The police department paid a price in community trust -- one motivation for publicly pledging to accept parish IDs.

This approval will help the estimated 231,000 immigrants who call Dallas home.

 

Hundreds Meet to Discuss Immigration, Parish ID Card, Texas Catholic

Inmigrantes Sin Licencia Podrán Usar Otro Tipo de Identificación Ante Policías de Dallas, Carrollton y Farmers Branch, Al Día Dallas

Immigrants Without State ID Will Be Allowed to Use Other Forms if Stopped by Dallas-area Police, Dallas Morning News

Policia: Cualquier Identificación Sirve Durante Una Detención, Telemundo

Realizan un Foro Comunitario Sobre Inmigrantes en Farmers Branch, Univision

Live Stream of Assembly, Catholic Diocese of Dallas

Video Clip of Bishop's Statement

Video Clip of Carrollton PD's Response

 


October 25, 2017

 

TMO Efforts Result in $27 Million in Food Aid for Families Surviving Hurricane Harvey

On October 6th, as thousands of Harvey survivors spent hours in line attempting to meet the deadline for emergency food aid, the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), TMO leaders organized a press conference at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church to demand an extension of the deadline for families.

Said Fr. Simón Bautista, "For two days in a row got in line at 6 a.m. and by the time she was seen, around 7 p.m., she was told that her last name was not being seen that day. She returned at 3 a.m. to find that 10 to 15 individuals were already in line. These individuals and families have been waiting in the heat, missing work and some still haven't received the benefits."

More than one week later, state officials announced a three-day extension of the deadline for families to enroll. TMO leaders expressed pleasure at the news of the extension, and recognized Congresswoman Sheila Jackson and Commissioner Rodney Ellis for their role in securing that extension.

Leaders are now celebrating that the three-day extension permitted more than 27,000 additional families to enroll in D-SNAP, resulting in the award of $27 Million in food aid for Harris County Harvey survivors .

Said Fr. Albert Zannatta, "Matthew 25:35 reads: for I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. These words of Christ spurred TMO to call for an extension.... TMO will continue to work until all have received the recovery they need."

Sheila Jackson Lee Celebrated for Her Involvement in Extending D-SNAP Services in Houston, KIAH Newsfix

State Health Officials Continue Harvey Food Assistance Program, Houston Chronicle

TMO Demands Extension of Deadline for Harvey Victims to Sign Up for D-SNAP, Houston Public Media

Community Leaders Push for D-SNAP Extension, Click 2 Houston

Appeal for Aid on Behalf of Needy, Houston Chronicle

TMO Press Statement

 


October 25, 2017

 

California Episcopal Publication: "Blessed Are the Organizers"

After the Dean and President of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), the Very Reverend Mark Richardson, participated in the school's community organizing course, he had this to say:

"The Gospel was never meant to be a private affair of the heart alone, so learning the skills taught in Industrial Areas Foundation's community organizing program, of building public relationships and community modes of interaction, is in keeping with the mission impulse found in CDSP's curriculum."

The Church Divinity School of the Pacific is the only Episcopal seminary on the West Coast. Each year, it sponsors a community organizing training in collaboration with the IAF.

Blessed Are the Organizers, Crossings

California Organizers Prepare Seminarians for Public Life, Interfaith Education Fund

 


October 16, 2017

 

COPA Launches Esperanza Care: $2M Health Care Expansion for Monterey County Low-Income, Undocumented Families

When Maria Elena Manzo (upper left photo), an asthma educator from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, first discovered that children of Monterey County undocumented were unable to qualify for free life-saving asthma inhalers -- and that those in Santa Cruz county did -- she immediately reached out to COPA-IAF. She and other COPA leaders organized hundreds of conversations over the next few years to build the political will, first for a $500,000 county-funded pilot project providing basic healthcare services to undocumented families, and now for Esperanza Care.

Esperanza Care, is a $2 million program that will expand the pilot primary and preventive care program to make it more comprehensive and available to more people. It will also provide access, for the first time, to outpatient services at neurology, diabetes, heart and dermatology clinics.

"Esperanza Care is a step in the right direction," says Manzo, adding "hundreds of conversations in churches, schools and community institutions…speak to the need. We must continue these conversations and work so that all people have quality healthcare access."

Said District 4 Supervisor Jane Parker, "COPA comes up with ideas and invites the county to participate. We worked together to put together…the pilot program and now Esperanza Care." 200 leaders participated in the celebratory event.

 

Esperanza Care Expands Health Care in Monterey County for Undocumented Immigrants, The Californian

Roll-Out Event Set for Expanded County Health Program for Uninsured Immigrants, Monterey Herald

 


October 1, 2017

 

Working Together Jackson Protects Jackson Public Schools

Working Together Jackson (WTJ) collaborated with member institution Mississippi Association of Educators and Mayor A. Chowkwe Lumumba to prevent a hostile takeover of the Jackson Public School System by the state of Mississippi. WTJ worked with leaders, the Mayor and others to reach a compromise with Gov. Phil Bryant to develop the Better Together Commission and a totally new School Board to avoid the takeover. Four WTJ leaders are now on the Commission and new school board, planning for long-term reform.

 


September 19, 2017

 

COPS/Metro Hikes Municipal, County Wage to $14.25 / Hour

Months after 750 COPS / Metro leaders challenged candidates for San Antonio City Council and the Bexar County Commissioners' Court to support their living wage agenda in a nonpartisan accountability assembly -- and then delivered 8,555 voters to the polls in support of their agenda -- both Bexar County and the City of San Antonio increased entry wages to $14.25 per hour.

This is one of several steps leaders have initiated to raise public sector wages to $15 / hour by 2019.

Long-term workforce development program Project QUEST went on to secure $2.5 million in funding, an increase of $300 thousand compared to last year. COPS / Metro additionally secured $9 million in owner-occupied rehabilitation and $150 thousand invested in legal defense for immigrants.

 

Bexar County Boosts Spending, San Antonio Express-News

Activists Press Council Ahead of Budget Vote, KTSA

Council Members Open to Minimum Wage Increase for City Workers, Rivard Report

Group Seeks More Money for Jobs Program , Raise in Minimum Wage, San Antonio Express-News

Housing Renovation Projects Get More Money, San Antonio Express-News

As Nation's Poverty Rate Declines, San Antonio's Increases, Rivard Report

 


September 18, 2017

 

Pima County Interfaith Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Park

On school days, the children from St. John's School plan to use the park. After school, Pueblo High School and neighborhood skaters are expected to take over. In the evening, seniors and everyone else hope to walk and play in its environs. Lights won't go out until 10:00pm, when a neighbor will lock the gate and new bathrooms.

Leaders of Pima County Interfaith celebrated the opening of St. John's Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony that recognized the outcome of a unique collaboration between the city, county, and church. The land is leased by St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church to the City. Bond funds generated by the County's Neighborhood Reinvestment Bond paid for most of the development. Conversations to get and keep the ball rolling were catalyzed by Pima County Interfaith, Southern Arizona Interfaith and persistent leaders from St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

 


September 14, 2017

 

Houston Mayor, Texas Senator Join TMO in Call on Landlords for Post-Harvey Grace Period for Renters

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Texas Senator Sylvia García joined TMO in calling on landlords to extend a 30-day grace period and to refrain from charging renters' fees and penalties following the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.

According to TMO, some landlords use computerized systems that automatically charge penalties for late payments regardless of Houston being in post-Harvey recovery. Rev. Ed Gomez of St. Paul's/San Pablo Episcopal Church shared stories of tenants who work in the service industry and, due to the storm, missed days of work and are now unable to pay their rent at this time. "People are not asking for a handout but a hand up as we get through this difficult time," he said.

Turner, Garcia and other TMO leaders were forceful in urging undocumented immigrants not to shy away from assistance for fear of being asked for papers. Said Mayor Turner, "We are not going to tolerate anybody in this city being victimized because they may be poor or because they may be undocumented or because they may not speak the language. We expect people to treat people right, with dignity and respect."

 

Alcalde de Houston Pide a Propietarios de Apartamentos no Abusar de los Inquilinos Damnificados por Harvey, Univision

Lanzan Advertencia a Arrendatarios Que Abusan de Inquilinos, Telemundo

Houston Mayor to Discuss Post-Harvey Evictions, KPRC 2

Mayor Turner Urges Landlords to be Flexible After Harvey, ABC-13

Mayor Turner Fires Back at Houston Landlords Mistreating Renters, CW39

Mayor Turner Enforcing Renters Rights Following Harvey, FOX 26

Turner Asks Houston Landlords to Grant One Month Grace Period to Renters, Houston Public Media (NPR)

Mayor Turner Names Former Shell CEO as Recovery Czar, Houston Press

 


August 9, 2017

 

OTOC Leverages $1.1M for Demolition of Condemned Buildings

After working for the last 6 years to increase City funding to demolish 800 condemned buildings in Omaha, Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) testified in favor of $1.1 Million included in the proposed 2018 City budget for demolition of condemned structures, up from just $250,000 in 2012 when OTOC started pushing for increases. As a result, the backlog of abandoned houses has been brought down from over 750 to less than 125.

As the city reduces the backlog to fewer than 100 condemned homes, OTOC also challenged the Mayor and City Council to turn its focus to rehabilitating houses with code violations, even while pressing City Council to begin requiring the regular inspection of all rental properties.

Groups Praise Omaha Mayor's Proposed City Budget, Offer Some Suggestions for the Future, Omaha World-Herald

 


August 9, 2017

 

EPISO, Border Interfaith Extend New Water Lines into Colonia

Over 20 years ago, a developer in the City of El Paso bought acreage in a plot of land, an undeveloped "island" landlocked by, but not included within, El Paso's municipal lines. The developer recorded the purchase with the County, but then -- unbeknownst to anyone -- illegally partitioned the land and sold the reduced-sized lots to low-income families without providing certificates of occupancy.

120 families built their homes in the Norma-Georgia-Seventh-La Mesa colonia, having little idea they had purchased and were residing in illegal subdivisions. Because the land was not part of the City, and illegally partitioned in the County, neither local nor state entities assumed responsibility for ensuring access to safe water.

Some of the families from this subdivision who were members of St. Patrick's Catholic Church expressed their struggles at a house meeting convened by Fr. Pablo Matta, and later partnered with Border Interfaith to bring infrastructure to their colonia.

While working with the families, Border Interfaith leaders discovered the unauthorized nature of their tenancy and soon after began organizing to explain to the county why they didn't have certificates of occupancy. Their first victory consisted of compelling the County to formally recognize and register their occupancy in County records.

The fight for the extension of city water lines into the neighborhood continued as they organized to request funding from the Texas Water Development Board and financial assistance from the Economically Distressed Areas Program. Unfortunately, they received news that the state funding was depleted.

Finally, after many obstacles, the second victory came when Border Interfaith and EPISO approached the CEO of the El Paso Water Utilities and requested the authorized expenditure of $2 Million from the Public Service Board budget to extend public water utility lines into Norma-Georgia-Seventh-La Mesa. Together, the CEO and the leaders worked to secure the necessary votes from the Public Service Board, and on February 8, 2017 the Board voted unanimously in favor of the $2 Million funding.

Construction is programmed to begin in October of 2017.

See Texas Standard reference to prior success in the colonias .

 


August 4, 2017

 

COPS / Metro Secures Additional $6.5 Million for Housing Rehabilitation, Ushers in 'Decade of Neighborhoods'

Four months after a nonpartisan accountability assembly in which 750 COPS / Metro leaders secured public commitments of support for senior housing rehabilitation from city council candidates, the San Antonio City Council unanimously voted to support the allocation of $6.5 Million during the next year. This represents a 261% increase in funding and will allow the city to rehab 81 homes in the next fiscal year, compared to 25 in the current year.

Said COPS / Metro leader Shirley Ellis of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, "It is now time for the 'Decade of Neighborhoods.' Instead of investing in developers, we should invest in homeowners -- homeowners who have invested their lives into this community."

Last April, Mayor "Nirenberg and council members Roberto Treviño, William "Cruz" Shaw, Rebecca Viagran, Rey Saldaña, Shirley Gonzalez and Ana Sandoval all publicly committed to boost funding for rehabilitation. According to the San Antonio Express-News," Then Mayor Ivy Taylor did not attend the accountability session, nor would she make the same commitment."

COPS / Metro leaders delivered 8,555 people to the polls in support of their issues agenda.

 

Housing Renovation Projects Get More Money, San Antonio Express-News

Nonpartisan accountability assembly

Press conference on housing bond accountability

 


July 31, 2017

 

Working Together Jackson Opens Grocery Store in Food Desert

Two years ago, after Kroger announced the closure of a South Jackson grocery store, Working Together Jackson leaders rallied behind the laid-off workers and made a public commitment to fight for its replacement. Due to the creativity and persistence of Working Together Jackson leaders, a Jackson Cash and Carry grocery store opened in its place -- tangible fruits of local efforts.

Rev. Ronnie Drudup Jr. announced that the organization wants to not only "support this store, but all" stores across Jackson. "We've got to make sure we bring high quality fruits, vegetables, and produce all around the city of Jackson."

 

Community Groups Working to Combat Food Deserts Around Jackson, MS News Now

 


July 21, 2017

 

One LA, with LA Mayor, Sheriff, Takes On Housing & Immigration

500 One LA delegates from 28 member institutions assembled to hold themselves, and elected officials, accountable on a Sunday afternoon in July. Delegates ratified a new strategy team, updated the bylaws, and pledged increased dues.

In response to compelling stories, and the presence of hundreds of delegates, Mayor Eric Garcetti committed to working with One LA on concrete solutions to the affordable housing crisis, including a proposed linkage fee that would generate $75 Million per year towards affordable housing construction. Garcetti not only became the first mayor of a major city to sign on to the national IAF-initiated "Do Not Stand Idly By" campaign for safer guns, he additionally pledged to persuade other mayors to sign on.

After several young people shared stories about their immigration experience, the President of the LAUSD school board, Ref Rodriguez, pledged to support One LA and the Superintendent's efforts to create ways for the district to provide support to young "newcomers" (recent immigrant arrivals & unaccompanied minors).

Regarding the treatment of 190,000, mostly women and children, crime victims awaiting U-visas, Sheriff Jim McDonnell committed to working with One LA and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to place a stay on their deportations.

Additional officials in attendance who pledged their support included: LA City Attorney Mike Feuer; Mitch Katz, director of LA County Health Services; LA Police Deputy Chief Robert Arcos; and Bishop David O'Connell, San Gabriel Region of the Archdiocese.

 

Affordable Housing May Soon Get $75 Million in Funding Thanks to Efforts of Interfaith Organization, Angelus

Crisis de Vivienda, Univision 34

Additional Photos, Rafael Paz Parra

Video Preview, Rafael Paz Parra

 


July 17, 2017

 

700 DAI Leaders Clarify Impact of SB4 with Dallas Police

Before a packed audience of 700 leaders of Dallas Area Interfaith, and on the one-year anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of five police officers, Dallas Area Interfaith continued the public conversation about community relationships with the police in the context of SB4. In response to stories about immigrants fearful of reporting crimes they've witnessed to the police, Dallas Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly announced, "This is evidence of why SB4 is bad."

Assistant Police Chief Gary Tittle was asked to clarify how SB4 could work, given police need for witnesses and victim cooperation and the real fears immigrants have of reporting. Tittle explained that crime victims, witnesses and people calling 911 are exempt from questions about immigration status.

The assembly took place even as Dallas Police Department interviews for a new police chief are underway. Said Minister Jonathan Morrison of Cedar Crest Church of Christ, and DAI representative on the interviewing panel, "I think there is always progress anytime there can be first real dialog and conversation and when communities can begin to share of their struggles and we begin to see commonality in our struggles."

Religious leaders of DAI are working to develop a relationship of mutual accountability with the Dallas Police Department to address fears faced by all sides.

 

North Texas Religious Leaders Step Up to Speak Out Against State's SB4 Immigration Law, Dallas Morning News

Inmigrantes Buscan Refugio en sus Iglesias Por Temor a Leyes Migratorias Como SB4, Al Dia Dallas

Dallas Police Chief Candidates in Town for Interviews, FOX News

Dallas Police Asst. Chief Gary Tittle Responds to Question About SB4, Diane Solis - Dallas Morning News

DAI Leaders Commit to Working with Police, Allison Harris - FOX 4 News

Video, Judge Brandon Birmingham

Photos

 


June 28, 2017

 

COPA Expands Healthcare to 2,500 Low Income, Undocumented Residents in Monterey County

At the urging of COPA leadership, the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County unanimously voted to quadruple the size of COPA's healthcare pilot project from $500 thousand to $2 Million on an annual basis.

The expanded program will provide at least 2,500 low-income undocumented residents, including farm workers and their families, with full-scope primary and preventative care, labs, radiology, medication and specialty services. A third-party administrator will be hired to issue enrollment cards, administer payments and track data.

Said Catholic Bishop Richard Garcia, "This has been a success because of the strong belief and labor of so many of our COPA members and our many great leaders representing our various communities!"

The real story is the persistent leadership demonstrated by leaders who are also future beneficiaries -- immigrants concerned about their families and neighbors. These leaders organized hundreds of meetings in parishes and neighborhoods, participated in strategy meetings and publicly shared their story at Board meetings. Said leader Tony Jara of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, "This program will allow me to , so I can work and care for my family without experiencing ...constant pain. It gives me great joy to work towards something that will help others in a similar situation."

 

Background stories detail how COPA:

2016 - Won Support for Undocumented Healthcare

2015 - Leveraged $500,000 for Pilot Health Project

2015 - Defended Healthcare for Unauthorized Kids

2014 - Busted Up Barriers to Healthcare Access

2013 - Resurrected Low Income Health Plan

 


June 21, 2017

 

NCG Wins Fight to Save, Transform Fremont Middle School

Nevadans for the Common Good celebrated a positive resolution to an education issue affecting students of Fremont Middle School. When the school district released rebuilding plans that involved busing Fremont middle-schoolers to another school, courageous parents and teachers began a year of conversing with each other and identifying allies.

With the support of neighboring institutions Christ Church Episcopal and Reformation Lutheran Church, Fremont leaders persuaded the School Board to approve a "transformational new plan for Fremont": rebuilding Fremont as a K-8 school and constructing a new Global High School in the neighborhood.

 

Defenders Hopeful Board OKs Plan to Keep Middle-Schoolers at Fremont, Las Vegas Review Journal

 


June 17, 2017

 

ICON Stops Waste / Recycling 'Business as Usual' in Pomona

After years of fighting for better regulation of waste management industry in Pomona, Inland Communities Organizing Network (ICON) celebrated a unanimous City Council decision to ban new trash processing stations. The ban prohibits new businesses from moving into Pomona and prohibits any expansion of current establishments. ICON leader Reverend Julie Roberts-Fronk of First Christian Church testified that "since 2011, our leaders have come to the city council, planning commission and city staff. The overwhelming sentiment among residents was and continues to be 'enough, no mas! Fix this."

The effort initially grew out of an ICON "Don't Trash Pomona" campaign, begun by member congregation First Presbyterian Church, in which leaders succeeded in negotiating a 33% reduction of trash processed at the plant and conversion of company trucks to CNG alternative fuel.

Said Lisa Engdahl of First Presbyterian, the ban "communicates to the region that it is not business as usual in Pomona; we have high hopes and expectations for our city...we will no longer be the region's dumping ground."

Pomona Moves to Ban New Business in This Industry, Inland Valley Bulletin

Pomona Council Takes Steps Leading to Moratorium on Recycling, Waste Processing Businesses, Inland Valley Bulletin

 


June 12, 2017

 

DAI Turns out 400 Votes in District Runoff Race, Exceeds Margin

After forcing a runoff election in May, 20 DAI leaders each turned out 20 voters, primarily in the Bachman Lake area near San Juan Diego Catholic Church.

Former Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo, who waited until the day before the election to support Dallas Area Interfaith's agenda in support of affordable housing and early childhood education, lost the runoff by 291 votes - the largest margin of three runoff races that day.

Her challenger, Omar Narvaez, publicly supported the DAI agenda two months prior.

Both candidates were invited to support the DAI agenda at a nonpartisan accountability assembly of 350 District 6 resident leaders held in April. At that assembly, leaders committed to informing neighbors and fellow parishioners of how candidates had responded to their agenda.

True to their word, DAI leaders organized block walks in the Bachman Lake area near San Juan Diego where voter turnout was highest in the election.

 

Shakeup to Shift Council Dynamics, Dallas Morning News

 


June 7, 2017

 

NCG Leverages $3.4M in State Funding for Meals On Wheels

'Nevadans for the Common Good' leaders discovered that Nevada was ranked 51st in the nation in terms of the level of state support for Meals on Wheels. As a result, there were over 1,000 home-bound seniors who were on the waiting list. NCG leveraged the support of municipal governments, state legislators and the governor to increase state funding to $3.4 million (a tenfold increase) in order to eliminate the waiting list.

 

Meals on Wheels Waiting Lists Could be a Thing of the Past Under Preliminary Budget Plan, Nevada Independent

Additional Background

 


June 2, 2017

 

Together Louisiana Defends State Constitution, Kills Tax Giveaway Bill

When petrochemical companies operating in rural Louisiana attempted to directly negotiate an industrial tax discount with the local parish (county), the effort ran up against the Louisiana Constitution. The local tax assessor sued and the state courts ruled that the agreement violated the Constitution. Developers then crafted House Bill 444, a constitutional amendment that would legalize direct negotiations with local governments. The amendment would allow corporations to work around Industrial Tax Exemption Program reforms recently won by Together Louisiana.

Proclaiming the bill "taxation by backroom deal," leaders descended upon a Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee hearing to fight it. After leaders heard several rounds of testimonials about how HB444 would provide yet another "tool" in the "toolbox" of local economic development, a new metaphor emerged.

"I'm so tired of hearing about the toolbox for economic development." proclaimed veteran Together Louisiana leader Edgar Cage. "This tool in the toolbox.... It's a screwdriver. And guess who's getting screwed?"

Against all odds, and with commendation from sitting committee members, Together Louisiana leaders prevailed, influencing enough votes from both political parties to kill the bill.

 

Together Louisiana, State's Assessors Team Up to Defeat Major Corporate Tax-Giveaway Scheme, Weekly Citizen

Together Louisiana Kills HB444 -- Taxation by Backroom Deal, Together Louisiana

Major Tax Break for Business Dies in Senate Committee, The Advocate

 


May 24, 2017

 

Southern Arizona Interfaith Secures Passage of SPICE Ordinance

Fresh from a state legislative victory allowing the criminalization of SPICE, Southern Arizona Interfaith leaders succeeded in persuading local policy makers to pass a city ordinance against the nasty synthetic drug. Tucson City councilmembers listened intently as leader Christina Crawford described how SPICE gave her son seizures and spasms, and as Msgr. Raul Trevizo and other leaders described finding vomiting and passed out youth on St. John the Evangelist church grounds.

Councilmembers praised the team for their persistence over 18 months, before unanimously voting to include the new chemical in a Tucson drug ordinance. Reporters captured the standing ovation Southern Arizona Interfaith leaders delivered to the Council upon passage of the ordinance.

Said leader Lorena Santos, "Look what we can do when we work together! This is just the beginning!"

Tucson City Leaders Pass SPICE Ordinance, Tucson News Now

Tucson In a Cat-and-Mouse Fight Against Nasty Synthetic Drug, Arizona Daily Star

 


May 26, 2017

 

Bastrop Interfaith Secures Lights & Cleanup for County Park

Bastrop Interfaith leader Alma Lopez lived in Stony Point in western Bastrop County for thirty years. She grew angry about people doing and selling drugs, abetted by darkness, at a long-neglected Stony Point park. "That is my neighborhood and my friends and family don't want those things happening here," she said.

Two months after Bastrop Interfaith organized its first assembly, leaders secured lights for the park, with the Commissioners Court unanimously approving a contract with Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. The Cooperative will pay for the lights while the County will pay for the monthly electricity bill. Leaders additionally secured $1,500 for park cleanup.

The community wide cleanup will be the first step of many, according to Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape. "Anything we do is a giant step from doing nothing."

"It's a small cost to pay," asserted leader Maria Vargas.

Bastrop Interfaith is an expansion project of Austin Interfaith.

Bastrop County Supports Community-Wide Cleanup at Stony Point, Austin American Statesman

 


May 10, 2017

 

VOICE-OKC, Allies Stop Payday Legislation with Governor's Veto

After HB1913 passed, threatening to triple the cap on small personal loans and boost the maximum interest rate to 204% per year, VOICE leaders and allies persisted in their fight against the bill.

Leaders publicly called on Governor Mary Fallin to veto the bill, on television and in writing arguing, as did Fr. Tim Luschen, that the bill is "not anything that can make our community a better place."

In her veto message, Governor Fallin urged legislators to consult with "all stakeholders," including consumer advocates, if they choose to revisit the issue.

Oklahoma Governor Fallin Vetoes Payday Loan Bill, The Oklahoman

Churches, Charities Asking Gov. Mary Fallin to Veto Payday Loan Bill, KOCO TV

Oklahoma Priest: Legislature Should Reject High Interest Loan Bill, The Oklahoman

 


April 21, 2017

 

IAF Workforce Development Model Shows Sizable, Significant and Sustained Results for Graduates

Almost ten years ago, Project QUEST agreed to participate in a randomized control trial in which half of a pool of 400+ qualified and equally motivated applicants were picked by a computer to participate in Project QUEST. The other half were turned away and they pursued other options.

After three years, Project QUEST graduates already earned more than those who were turned away. By Year 6, the difference in earnings not only persisted, but increased to over $5,000 per year.

Said study co-author Mark Elliott, "Other programs have had large earnings impacts, but they haven't taken people completely out of poverty into the middle class....This is a stunning achievement."

This "gold standard" study is said to be the first in the nation to show sustained, statistically significant increases in participant's earnings (and employment) over time.

Project QUEST was established by COPS / Metro in San Antonio and continues to be the flagship for ten other projects across the US.

Study Affirms Project QUEST Achievements, San Antonio Express-News

Escalating Gains: Project QUEST'S Sectoral Strategy Pays Off, Economic Mobility Corporation

Texas Job Program Shows Unusually Strong, Lasting Gains, Study Finds, Austin American Statesman

IAF Labor Market Intermediaries

 


April 3, 2017

 

Southern Arizona Interfaith Changes State Law to Combat Drug

When neighborhood users of SPICE, a synthetic marijuana with side effects including seizures and disorientation, began walking into traffic and collapsing on church and school grounds, leaders from St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church stepped into the void to identify solutions. Church leaders, in collaboration with Southern Arizona Interfaith, soon launched a campaign to "Give them Food" in addition to collaborating with local law enforcement and county health department to educate the community about the drug and prevent its sale. Over 250 area residents attended one of the community meetings.

In fall 2016, SAI and Pima County Interfaith hosted a nonpartisan accountability session drawing more than 500 leaders to address several issues, including SPICE. In front of hundreds of voters, candidates promised to introduce a bill to criminalize SPICE ingredients and to help law enforcement press charges against dealers.

This spring, Rep. Pamela Powers (LD9-D) negotiated the inclusion of SPICE ingredients in a bill (HB2033) sponsored by Rep. Heather Carter (LD15-R) on controlled substances, that Governor Ducey signed it into law.

SAI leaders are pointing to this victory as an "example of the great things we can achieve when we work together," including bi-partisan cooperation in the expansion of the bill to include SPICE ingredients. Leaders also recognized the Tucson Police Department, St. John's Pastoral Council and the Pima County Health Department for its collaboration.

Leaders are now working with City of Tucson Councilmembers Richard Fimbres and Steve Kozachik to follow through on their campaign pledges to pass a stricter local ordinance prohibiting the sale of SPICE in Tucson.

Pima County Interfaith, SAI & Allies Challenge Candidates for State Legislative and County Office, West / Southwest IAF

Southern Arizona Interfaith Confronts 'Spice' Epidemic in Tucson, West / Southwest IAF

 


March 7, 2017

 

OneLA, Allies Pass Measure H for Homeless Services, Prevention

One LA leaders celebrated a second election victory for the most vulnerable in Los Angeles County after the March 7 election. Together, with a coalition of other organizations and with the support of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, leaders worked to pass Measure H— a quarter cent sales tax to fund critical services for homeless populations as well as homelessness prevention for those at risk.

Following successful efforts to pass Measure HHH in November, a county-wide ballot measure to fund the construction of housing for the homeless, One LA leaders rallied again to support Measure H in 2017. Expecting low turnout, leaders organized civic academies and information sessions in their congregations to encourage members to vote.

One day prior to the election, One LA leaders joined Rabbi Dara Frimmer of Temple Isaiah and Fr. Arturo Corral of La Placita in lending moral authority to the measure at a press conference in which they stood flanked by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Supervisors Mark Ridley Thomas and Sheila Kuehl.

Measure H passed by only 2 percentage points, approximately 16,000 votes, driving home the lesson that all politics is local, and every vote counts.

 


February 22, 2017

 

Together LA Blocks Tax Exemptions, Wins Sunshine Provision

Eight months after their victory in reforming the state Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP), leaders of Together Louisiana noticed that industrial tax exemptions spiked 441% in its last year (2016), with the majority of tax exemptions granted after the reforms passed. They additionally noticed that the Commerce and Industry Board reversed the wording of the measure to undermine the reform that would have limited exemptions to proposals that had secured the approval of the local municipalities sacrificing the revenue.

Unsatisfied with the explanation that the 2016 reforms were not to touch applications already in the works, 100 faith and community leaders of Together Louisiana organized a press conference before the Board of Commerce and Industry's meeting and then sat in on the meeting itself -- demonstrating a rare presence of citizen oversight of a committee that distributed $4.9 billion in tax exemptions last year.

Under the watchful gaze of Together LA, the committee unanimously rejected six applications that directly violated the Governor's order and added a "Sunshine Provision" to the ITEP program rules to allow local citizens to learn when exemptions are being considered by local bodies. Thanks to Together LA, Louisiana Economic Development must now post on its website, within three days, when proposed tax expenditures are forwarded to local municipalities for consideration, thus beginning a 120 day period for the provision of public input.

 

Despite Gov. Bel Edwards' Efforts to Rein It In, Tax Break Even More Lucrative for Manufacturers in 2016, The Advocate

Together LA: Corporate Giveaways Continue Apace, The INDsider

Together Louisiana Protests Industrial Tax Exemption Program, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

The Ship is Not Turning: Status Update on Gov. Edwards' Effort to Reform the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, Together Louisiana

 


February 14, 2017

 

AMOS Expands Affordable Housing Possibilities in Ames, Iowa

Six months after advocating that a 10-acre city-owned property be developed with a variety of affordable housing options for local working families, AMOS leaders succeeded in expanding the number of rental and lower-priced housing units to be made available.

Initially, the land parcel was zoned for single family detached homes, with some of the loudest voices calling for exclusively owner-occupied units. Thanks to the intervention of AMOS leaders, Ames City Council voted for more affordable housing to be developed on-site, including 60% to be made available at affordable rates, and to include rental housing in its Request for Proposals.

The following month, the City of Ames further committed to two years of matching funds for an affordable housing trust fund that was created at AMOS' initiative. This move will help the fund gain funding and build momentum, locally.

Housing Trust Fund Task Force Continues Progress Toward Affordable Housing, Ames Tribune

Housing Trust Fund Task Force Approved for Incorporation, Ames Tribune

Affordable Housing Task Force Holds First Meeting, Ames Tribune

Housing Trust Fund Task Force Approved for Incorporation, Ames Tribune

AMOS Ups Number of Affordable Housing Units in New Ames Development, AMOS

 


February 13, 2017

 

Working Together Jackson Demolishes Campus Blight

Two months after Working Together Jackson put public pressure on Jackson State University (JSU) to replace long-abandoned buildings with green space, leaders celebrated the first demolition on campus. The demolition resulted from a collaboration initiated by Working Together Jackson in which Revitalize Mississippi Inc. agreed to demolish the properties at no cost to the JSU Development Foundation or university.

 

Nonprofit to Remove Blight in Jackson, Clarion Ledger

 


February 10, 2017

 

MACG & Allies Secure Tenant Relocation Assistance in Portland

As part of a larger strategy to secure affordable housing options in Portland, Oregon, leaders of the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good (MACG) and allies secured unanimous passage of an emergency tenant relocation assistance ordinance, persuading an "on the fence" Commissioner to support the measure. Seventy-five MACG leaders packed City Hall chambers, with direct views of the commissioners as they voted.

Three MACG leaders testified in support; one read a statement from a St. Andrew parish leader who had been prepared to speak, but stayed home due to recent ICE activity in the city.

The new temporary law requires that Portland landlords pay $2,900 - $4,500 to tenants who are evicted without cause or have to move as a result of a +10% rent increase. Leaders see the approval of this temporary measure as a critical step toward providing immediate relief. The plan now is to target the state legislature to pass Just Cause Eviction and Rent Stabilization legislation this year.

Testimony: Dr. Luis Manriquez, Portland Primary Care Doctor

Testimony: Gillian Weisgram, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church

Photos

 


February 2, 2017

 

Texas IAF Network Joins Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in Stand Against Anti-Immigrant Bill SB4

Said Bishop Joe Vásquez, on behalf of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, "We reject the premise that persons who are merely suspected of being undocumented immigrants should be rounded up by state and local police agents."

"This bill requires local police and sheriff's deputies to enforce federal immigration laws as if their job of maintaining public order and the public safety weren't difficult enough as it is," said John Elford, senior pastor of University United Methodist Church and member of Austin Interfaith.

 

Valley Priest: Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill Could End Up Empowering Drug Cartels, Rio Grande Guardian

Texas Interfaith Leaders Take a Stand Against SB4, KXAN

Local Organizations Stand Against Sanctuary Cities Bill, KEYE

CLC Urges Lawmakers to Reject 'Anti-Sanctuary City' Legislation, Baptist Standard

Testimony by Reverend John Elford, Austin Interfaith, Network of Texas IAF Organizations

Press Release, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops

 


January 11, 2017

 

Spokane Alliance & Allies Victorious in School Bullying Action

Following almost nine weeks of pressure from Spokane Alliance members and allies, the Spokane Public Schools (SPS) school board unanimously voted to make a public statement on recent school bullying that included four key points leaders advocated for: reaffirmation of the district's commitment to respect all students; commitment to swift enforcement of harassment, intimidation and bullying; contact information for those needing to report incidents; and the context of the divisive year in politics.

Leaders testifying at the school board meeting were supported by dozens of parents and community leaders inspiring one leader to say, "It makes me want to cry to see so many people standing up together for children - as I've stood alone with parents so often with no resolution."

Spokane School Board Reaffirms Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion Following Reports of Harassment Following Trump's Election Win, Spokesman-Review

Parents Call for Spokane Public Schools to Address Trump Inspired Bullying, Inlander

Full SPS Board Statement

 


December 8, 2016

One LA Reaches Milestone Healthcare Enrollment of 146,000, Celebrates Expansion of Enrollment to 54,000 More!

Before a packed audience of 200 health care leaders and Dr. Mitch Katz, Director of the LA County Department of Health, One LA celebrated the milestone enrollment of 146,000 Los Angeles residents into My Health LA, 8,000 of whom were enrolled by One LA leaders themselves at their institutions. My Health LA is a program One LA leaders compelled the County to create to cover undocumented residents and leaders ultimately secured an additional $6 million in funding and negotiated an agreement from LA County to conduct healthcare enrollment at One LA member institutions. 350 trained leaders held over 100 events to enroll the 8,000 residents.

At the celebration, Dr. Katz agreed to authorize funding to expand healthcare enrollments to reach an additional 54,000 residents!

 



West / Southwest IAF Organizations

Northwest IAF Organizations