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.
Learn more about Who We Are.
Read below for recent victories. Click here for more extensive News Coverage.
RECENT VICTORIES & PROGRESS
June 11, 2015
Sisters Combat Poverty, Impacting Thousands in San Antonio
At a graduate recognition ceremony for 200 Project Quest students, Executive Director Sr. Pearl Ceasar and Boardmember Sr. Gabriela Lohan — both instrumental in the creation and implementation of the long-term workforce development program — congratulated each one on stage.
Says Sr. Pearl Ceasar:
“Jesus was about the transformation of people and that’s what we do. We are about the transformation of people.”
Read the Global Sisters’ Report for more about the people behind Project Quest and their impact on families. Project Quest was founded by COPS / Metro Alliance leaders in 1992.
[Photo Credit: Nuri Vallbona, Global Sisters Report]
Workforce Programs Moves People Up and Out of Low-Paying Jobs, Global Sisters Report
June 24, 2015
‘Better Together’ Beats Back Baton Rouge Separatists
Leaders of ‘Better Together’ successfully undermined a suburban incorporation effort (in the St. George area) by convincing voters who had signed onto the original petition to withdraw their signatures.
A small minority of St. George residents needed 17,859 signatures to call a vote for incorporation, an essential first step in separating the suburb from the City of Baton Rouge. After these residents turned in 18,000 signatures, ‘Better Together’ leaders painstakingly reviewed the list, contacting signatories to confirm they understood the significance of their signature . Over 1,100 original signatories were persuaded to submit petition withdrawal forms, thus ensuring that St. George remain part of the City.
[Photo Credit: Richard Alan Hannon, The Advocate]
[Video] How Citizens Turned the Tide on the St. George Breakaway, Better Together
[Oped] Better Together If That is the Goal, The Advocate
June 18, 2015
Memorial Service for Ed Chambers Announced
8:30am, Wednesday, July 1st
American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90077
The service will be open to IAF organizers and others, and will precede the IAF International meeting scheduled that same day.
Reflections on Chamber’s life and legacy below:
Recognizing Ed Chambers by Dick Harmon
Lessons From a Great Community Organizer,Council of Philanthropy
May 19, 2015,
Valley Interfaith Upsets Pharr Election, Community Wins Big
As a result of Valley Interfaith‘s impact on the recent Pharr city comissioners race, the newly constituted city commission has placed six of the organization’s top agenda items on the agenda — all of which are expected to be approved. At an accountability assembly three weeks prior, leader raised the issue of needed investments in parks, libraries, additional job training, a bridge across a canal to link two neighborhoods, curtailment of predatory lending, street paving and additional bus routes. Back story here.
The Rio Grande Guardian reports:
“In the recent Pharr City Commission election, Valley Interfaith leaders knew the races were likely to be close. They calculated that if they turned out their supporters and members, particularly in south Pharr, they could impact the election and thus have leverage on which policies get implemented.”
After turning out 1,000 additional voters of South Pharr, the strategy appears to be paying off.
[Photo Credit: Steve Taylor, Rio Grande Guardian]
City Commits More Funds to Education-Based Nonprofit, The Monitor
City of Pharr Set to Adopt Valley Interfaith’s Initiatives for Las Milpas, Rio Grande Guardian (05/17/15)
All City Candidates Commit to Valley Interfaith Agenda, Lincoln Park, The Brownsville Herald (04/26/15)
Pharr Candidates Back Valley Interfaith’s Agenda, Rio Grande Guardian (04/27/15)
Valley Interfaith Hosts Forums Across Area, The Brownsville Herald (04/24/15)
‘Accountability Session’ to Feature Commission and Mayor Candidates, The Brownville Herald (04/18/15)
Pharr Candidates Commit to Valley Interfaith Agenda One Day Before Voting Starts, The Monitor (04/27/15)
Forum in Pharr to Focus on Las Milpas, But Only Challengers Commit to Attending, The Monitor (04/27/15)
Valley Interfaith to Host Forum for Pharr Candidates on Sunday, Rio Grande Guardian (04/24/15)
May 15, 2015
TMO Parent Leaders Triumphant Over Rezoning Proposal
TMO Lyons Elementary parents won an 8 – 1 Houston Independent School District board vote against proposed boundary changes to their school. The changes would have sent students from one of the top ranked schools in the state to one ranked in the lowest 18% statewide. Parent leaders signed up 600 petitioners opposed to the change to convince board members that this was a bad idea.
Rosa Rivera told board members, “We want you to listen to us. Don’t move our children.” Demonstrating that organized parents would be heard, board trustee members, including area representative Anna Eastmann, subsequently rejected the the proposed plan.
May 7, 2015
Stephens, Cortes and Others Reflect on Life of Edward Chambers
In a New Yorker piece by Samuel Freedman, Industrial Areas Foundation co-chair Ernesto Cortes and Sr. Christine Stephens reflect on the life and spirit of Edward Chambers, the long-time executive director of the IAF that led it to to become the premier community organizing network in the US and around the world.
“Ed believed in the mission of the church, and I don’t just mean the Roman Catholic Church,” Sister Christine Stephens, a member of Chambers’s leadership team in the I.A.F., said. “That mission involved dealing with people who are on the margins, people who don’t have power.”
Says Ernesto Cortes:
“Ed had a spiritedness, a levity. And a lot of straight talk about power.”
[Photo Credit: George Tames, New York Times]
Lessons From a Great Community Organizer, Council of Philanthropy
March 28, 2015
Valley Interfaith Celebrates In Their (Newly Paved) Streets
When Valley Interfaith leader Monse Martinez (in photo, upper left)
first moved into Las Milpas he noticed the roads were in very bad conditions. Says Martinez: “The potholes were destroying our vehicles. But we started to get organized…talking about it in church, holding house meetings and demanding these roads get fixed.”
When the residents got their street paved, they organized a celebration where the potholes used to be.
Said Martinez’s pastor Reverend Edouard Atangana: “It is part of the Christian responsibility to participate in the life of the community.” Leaders of the Los Ebanos colonia are also pushing for a recreation center and a library. To that end, Father Atangana urged parishioners to stay involved in the process. ”We want our people in this part of Pharr, especially, to vote.”
[Photo Credit: Esmeralda Leal, Rio Grande Guardian]
Colonia Residents Celebrate After Streets Get Repaired, Rio Grande Guardian
March 16, 2015
EPISO & Border Interfaith Punch Payday Lenders in the Base with $13M Alternative Lending Program
For the second time in one year, IAF organizations in El Paso (EPISO and Border Interfaith) dealt a harsh blow to the bottom line of payday lenders.
During last year’s fight to restrict how much payday lenders can legally make off the backs of lower-income families, opponents from the lending industry couched their financial predation under the guise of “providing a valuable service” to residents. After winning a significant victory in 2014 limiting payday lending profits, leaders wanted more.
In financial literacy civic academies held in the poorest neighborhoods of El Paso, families revealed that when a tire blew, or a child got sick, they needed fast cash. They had the capacity to repay small loans, but were shut out of traditional consumer credit markets due to lack of income or credit…(more here)
March 10, 2015
PCIC Celebrates 25 Years of Successes in Battle
Over 250 leaders of Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) convened at St. Phillips in the Hills to celebrate 25 years of success. Since 1980, PCIC has leveraged upwards of $100 million in state and local funds into projects that benefit the common good including KidCo, JobPath, local parks and recreation centers across the County.
In addition to enjoying the sound of a youth-led mariachi band, participants honored longtime and retired leaders Episcopal priest Paul Buckwalter, Methodist Pastor David Wilkinson, former PCIC/AIN Lead Organizer Frank Pierson, former Diocesan CCHD representative Joanne Welter, and deceased former Tucson Mayor and PCIC leader George Miller. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Tucson Catholic Dioceses chaired the event (more here)…
February 4, 2015
VIP Leverages $26.6M for Tempe & Scottsdale Public Schools
Phoenix, AZ – 200 Valley Interfaith Project delegates assembled after the fall 2014 election to celebrate the leveraging of $26.6 Million in public school dollars for Tempe Elementary and Scottsdale Unified School Districts. Leaders achieved this by passing school override ballot measures.
Key legislative allies in attendance vowed to to protect Medicaid expansion that was won in 2013, re-connect public school funding to inflation and advance new legislation for Respite Care, all part of VIP’s 2015 Human Development agenda.
February 3, 2015
ICON Wins PUSD Boardmember Commitments for Cleaner Buses
ICON and its ‘Clean & Green’ team leveraged commitments from three board members of the Pomona Unified School District to begin to eliminate the use of diesel buses in favor of cleaner alternatives. Leaders made the case against a district contract that relies on diesel buses, excessively exposing schoolchildren to diesel particulate matter.
Pomona Unified’s Smog-Belching Diesel Buses Should be Mothballed, Residents Say, Inland Valley Bulletin [pdf]
Pomona Unified Officials, Residents to Discuss Diesel Buses, Inland Valley Bulletin [pdf]
January 28, 2014
TMO to David Brooks: Programs You Call For Already Exist!
Responding to David Brooks’ assertion that the President’s proposal to provide cost-free community college access is not enough, TMO leaders Rev. Kevin Collins, Mr. Franklin Olson and Mr. Bob Fleming offer initial agreement and the good news that the types of programs Brooks calls for already exist in Texas.
“Local programs in San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Dallas and the Rio Grande Valley developed by IAF affiliates have graduated thousands of students from our community colleges, lifting them out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. These initiatives are ripe for expansion and replication.” Read more below:
December 24, 2014
Texas Observer Names Cortes Major Change Maker in Texas
Change Makers – The Texas Observer Celebrates 60 Years, Texas Observer
December 17, 2014
COPS / Metro Raises Wages of Lowest Paid Colleges Workers
In a win that COPS / Metro is calling “a beginning,” the Board of the Alamo (Community) Colleges approved wage raises for its lowest paid workers including an $11.50 minimum for full-time employees. This represents a $1.38 / hour raise for approximately 49 long-time housekeeping staff now making the lowest wage.
The district will also increase pay to $10 / hour for 700 part-time and temporary employees.
COPS leaders say they want these raises to continue to the level that Bexar County is implementing, and to include contracted workers as well.
Alamo Colleges Board OKs Raises For Its Lowest Paid Workers, San Antonio Express News [pdf]
November 24, 2014
Odd Couple?: US Catholic Bishops & the IAF
“Alinsky protégé and ‘genius grant’ recipient Ernesto Cortés, Jr. cites Catholic social teaching as influential in the development of community organizing, and when the nation’s largest denomination holds that Thanksgiving-week special collection of mostly small donations, it will be supporting one element in a broad-based coalition aimed at empowering ordinary folks. As Ernie Cortés notes, ‘The only answer to organized money is organized people.’ For all the efforts that are furthering that vision, we can truly give thanks.”
In photo: Bishop Joe Vasquez (in black suit on right) stands with Austin Interfaith in support of workers.
Odd Couple?, Huffington Post
November 14, 2014
Houston Chronicle Credits TMO With Changing Lives
“The Metropolitan Organization, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of its charter this October, works with the voiceless to help transmute their anger into leadership. In a meeting with the Chronicle editorial board, TMO representatives said that the nonprofit, which organizes church congregations and other institutions across the region, encourages residents to say: “This is the city I want,” and then to hold government accountable. Under TMO’s stewardship, neighborhoods find their voices, and city government acquires a hearing aid….”
TMO at 30: The Metropolitan Organization’s Successes Have Changed the Lives of People, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
The Metropolitan Organization Celebrates 30th Anniversary, Honors Three Community Heroes, Texas Catholic Herald [pdf]
October 16, 2014
Project Quest Wins $6 Million DOL Grant
Workforce development program Project QUESTwon an award of $6 Million from the US Department of Labor to train 475 adults in the San Antonio area for living wage IT careers. Project Quest’s “Homegrown IT” program is backed by local employers including Rackspace, Zachry Holdings and WP Engine. Quest will focus on training long-term unemployed residents of Bexar and neighboring counties. Said Executive Director Sr. Pearl Ceasar, “We are ready to implement it.”
Labor Department Awards IT Job Training Funds to Project QUEST, San Antonio Business Journal
Quest Wins $6 Million for IT Training, San Antonio Express News
October 6, 2014
With Fairfax Win Under Belt, MOC Steps Up Fight for Shelter
Fairfax became the first municipality in Marin to commit to providing funding for the expansion of the REST winter homeless shelter program into a year-round project, thanks to intervention from the Marin Organizing Committee. The Town Council voted unanimously to approve a request for $16,392, as part of a regional proposal put forth by MOC leaders.
At its ‘Housing Sabbath’ MOC gave a standing ovation to the Fairfax Council and announced plans to step up the fight for year-round emergency housing. In addition to targeting nine other cities, including San Anselmo, Tiburon and Novato, leaders aim to persuade Marin County to put in $500,000 and the Marin Community Foundation to put in $250,000. Congregations plan to step up their in-kind contributions of food and shelter as well.
Fairfax Becomes First Town in Marin to Pledge Money for Homeless Shelter, Marin Independent Journal
Housing Sabbath: Hospitality and Home in Marin, Marin Independent Journal
Marin Homeless Shelter Committee Steps Up Push for Funding, Marin Independent Journal
September 23, 2014
One LA Wins $6M in Added Funding for County Health Coverage
The morning after an assembly in which hundreds of San Fernando Valley leaders of One LA leveraged commitments from District 3 candidates to ensure sufficient funding for the ‘My Health LA’ program, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to invest $6 Million in additional dollars for the program.
One LA estimates that the added funding will expand coverage by 35 to 40 thousand individuals. This victory comes months after the organization identified millions of County dollars that could be used to cover more uninsured people, including undocumented County residents.
One LA leaders and allies were on hand for the vote.
LA County’s Top Health Official Shows Compassionate Side, LA Daily News
One LA Urges Supervisors to Cover the Uninsured, Angelus – The Tidings Online
Additional background information, WXSWIAF
August 28, 2014
COPA Leaders Get Crosswalk in Front of Senior Living Facility
Doña Francisca’s death by car, the 4th accident in front of the Sherwood Village senior living facility, brought clarity to members of Aging Latinos in Action. Without a stop sign, seniors were left vulnerable to rushing and inattentive drivers. ALA reached out to COPA for training, then conducted their own research actions and meetings with sitting Council members to secure a crosswalk in front of their living facility. In photo, ALA leaders process down their newly installed crosswalk.
Said leader Fermin Gonzalez, “We’re not part of history…we’re making history!”
Salinas Seniors Organize to Improve Crosswalk, The Monterey Herald
August 21, 2014
Capital IDEA-Houston Gets Praise from Chase + $100K Award
Carolyn Watson, Chase Bank VP of Corporate Responsibility, announced the award of $100K to Capital IDEA-Houston at a meeting of the Houston Community College Board of Trustees. Capital IDEA-Houston, established by leaders of TMO as a labor market intermediary, pulls working students out of poverty wage jobs and into living wage careers starting at upwards of $30,000 per year plus benefits. TMO (The Metropolitan Organization) built the political will to establish the training program to bridge the wage gap between industry needs and the skills base of the city.
“The Capital IDEA / Houston Community College partnership works!” declared Watson. “It gives workers aspiring to a better future the training and practical supports they need to persist to graduation….”
Full Statement [pdf]
August 15, 2014
COPA Breaks Ground On Acosta Plaza Basketball Court in Salinas
COPA leaders and their young children celebrated the breaking of ground at Acosta Plaza with shovels, stories and speeches. The story, the way Bibiana Alcala tells it, involved an important first phone call. ”Once our residents said they wanted a basketball court….we contacted COPA.”
Youth and community leaders of Acosta Plaza, in collaboration with other congregations of COPA, lobbied neighborhood associations, Mayor Gunter of Salinas and statewide community foundations to identify funding for the construction of a basketball court. The $100,000 construction project is the result of negotiation: Residents will assist COPA-member and affordable housing provider CHISPA in building the court while the City of Salinas and the California Endowment will help shoulder the costs.
Earlier this year, youth leveraged $500 from a local neighborhood association and then brought Mayor Gunter into the effort — framing the project as an opportunity to help young people in Salinas thrive. This week, construction begins. By October, the court will be ready for basketball.
Acosta Plaza Residents Build BB Court, The Californian
COPA’s Acosta Plaza Youth Accost Mayor to Clean Up Park, WXSWIAF [March 2014]
August 1, 2014
Texas IAF Calls on White House to Stop Deportations of Children
Asserting that anyone under 18 years must have an attorney and should never be subjected to expedited processing, hundreds of bishops and clergy from every major religious denomination in Texas denounced proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Act of 2008 and called on the White House for a better approach to the humanitarian crisis at the border.
In El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth and Dallas, religious leaders preached about the crisis at the border, organized relief efforts and held press conferences reminding the White House and Congress of the Judeo-Christian admonishment for nations to “show kindness and mercy to one another, [to] not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner or the poor (Zechariah 7:9-10).”
Texas IAF organizations are spearheading an effort to ensure that the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Act not be weakened, that expedited deportations of children be halted and that religious congregations be granted access to attend to the spiritual needs of the children currently detained in detention facilities. [In photo, El Paso Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz delivers joint statement.]
Border Interfaith & EPISO (El Paso):
COPS / Metro Alliance (San Antonio)
Allied Communities of Tarrant (Fort Worth):
Dallas Area Interfaith:
June 30, 2014
Works of IAF Nuns & West / Southwest IAF Celebrated
For over 30 years, Sr. Christine Stephens and co-director Ernie Cortes have trained lead organizers for organizations like Austin Interfaith, “an eclectic mix of 40 dues-paying partner organizations that include labor unions, churches, mosques, synagogues and non-profits…. The mission of her organization…is to identify and train people like Malone to solve problems for themselves.
‘You find people who . . . if put into relationship with one another and taught how to organize, can do just incredible things,’ she explains.”
June 26, 2014
Secure Communities Denounced by Austin Interfaith & City of Austin
At the urging of Austin Interfaith, Central Texas Bishops, Catholic Charities and immigration reform allies, Austin City Council unanimously passed an official denunciation of Travis County’s “Secure Communities,” directing the City Manager to explore alternative ways to book arrests. High achieving 13-year old Alan Gonzalez Otero, from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and Austin Interfaith, testified against Secure Communities, describing an occasion when he was 9 years old and thought he might never see his father again. Rev. Thomas VandeStadt of the Congregational Church of Austin reminded the Council that Central Texas Bishops opposed cooperation between law enforcement and immigration, and that “on principle” was opposed to Secure Communities.
City Hall Chambers, filled with 300 supporters of the resolution, erupted in cheers as the Mayor announced the 7-0 vote.
June 19, 2014
TMO Leverages $500K for Capital IDEA-Houston From Local Sources
Less than one month after Capital IDEA-Houston won a $500 thousand Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant to train hundreds more community college students for living wage careers, leaders of The Metropolitan Organization of Houston leveraged an additional $500 thousand in local money after testifying at City Hall.
The money will come from two source of funding: $250 thousand from Community Development Block Grants and another $250 thousand from a City of Houston budget line-item, marking the first time Capital IDEA-Houston has been included in the City budget.
Said Fr. Kevin Collins of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, “The city will benefit because studies show that over 20 years, Capital Idea provides a 501% return on investment. Moreover, we stand with Pope John Paul II who said ‘a just wage is (one of) the concrete means of verifying the whole socioeconomic system and, in any case, of checking that it is functioning justly.’”
June 17, 2104
Austin Interfaith Wins Historic Living Wage Vote on School Construction
Labor caucus leaders of Austin Interfaith leveraged a historic living wage vote from AISD school board members in a close-to-midnight vote approving the use of federal Davis-Bacon wage standards for workers employed on school construction projects. After months of deliberation and negotiation, labor caucus members of Austin Interfaith testified at AISD board proceedings, backed by a crowd of supporters.
Catholic Bishop Joe Vasquez’s letter exhorting the Board to support Davis-Bacon wages was followed by impassioned testimony from leaders representing LiUNA, Education Austin, IBEW, Painters Local 1779, Pipefitters, Workers Defense Projects, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and the Equal Justice Center. Plans are in the works for the school district to soon establish an accompanying living wage floor to raise the wages of the lowest paid workers. [Photo Credit: Austin American Statesman]
Austin District Approves Prevailing Wages for Bond Work, Austin American Statesman [pdf] (06/17)
Top Local Stories of the Week, Austin American Statesman (06/22)
June 13, 2014
Together Louisiana Takes Payday Fight to Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
Undeterred by the Louisiana legislature’s reluctance to pass payday lending reform this year, Together Louisiana leaders turned their attention to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, taking over a hearing on mobile banking and pointing out the need for intervention on payday lending.
Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith Marie Brown drove in from Monroe because, in her words, “my sister was also in the payday lending trap.” Brown said she attempted to pay off her sister’s debt multiple times but was prohibited from doing so by payday representatives. It wasn’t in their interest for her to pay off her sister’s debt, since they earn more money from her failure.
‘Together Louisiana’ leader Edgar Cage asserted,”If a person doesn’t have economic proficiency, it doesn’t mean they should be exploited.”
[Photo Credit: Michelle Millhollon, The Advocate]
Payday Lending Dominates CFPB Hearing on Mobile Payments, America Banker
Payday Lending Opponents Take Their Concerns to the Feds, Times Picayune
Together Louisiana to Push Feds for Payday Loan Changes, The Advocate
Consumer Groups Getting Restless Over Delay of Federal Payday Lending Rules,Columbus Business First
June 9, 2014
1,500 VOICE Leaders Rally For Schools, Get Candidate Commitments
Convening 1,500 at Oklahoma City University Sunday afternoon, VOICE leaders challenged a bipartisan panel of candidates for Oklahoma State Superintendent with stories and questions around the state of Oklahoma schools; 5 of the 7 invited candidates directly heard from community members, teachers and parents, and responded with answers to direct questions.
Over the last six months VOICE leaders (including the Oklahoma Educators Association) have been presenting “High-Stakes Testing: Is it Worth the Cost?” all over the state. The presentation exposed the cost of and examines the impact of high-stakes testing and created opportunities for students, teachers, parents and school administrators to weigh in. VOICE leaders collected input regarding what would make an “A” school, identifying four main themes:
a fairer means of assessing schools that incorporates numerous factors shaping a school (i.e. no more A-F Grading System); movement away from high-stakes testing; championing increased funding for the classroom (i.e. teacher pay, supplies, class sizes); and restoring the love of learning.
Will Janet Skip Again?, View from the Edge
Photos from the Action, VOICE OKC Facebook Page
June 9, 2014
OTOC & Allies Stop Coal Burning in North Omaha
The OTOC Environmental Sustainability Team formed early this year upon learning that the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) planned to continue burning coal in North Omaha and retreat from the use of renewable energy sources (including wind and solar). They presented 4 key demands to the OPPD Board leading them to revise their plans to end coal burning in North Omaha by 2016 and maintain a minimum use of 32% of renewable sources.
Pictured at right is the team of OTOC leaders that pushed the Board to revise its energy plan. Articles below quote OTOC leader Laurie Gift and OTOC ally Rev. Eric Elnes.
Amid Alleged ‘War On Coal,’ Nebraska Plant Finds ‘Path Forward,’ US News & World Report
May 28, 2014
VIP Leverages $21 Million Vote for Maricopa Community Colleges
As part of a long-term regional economic development strategy, Valley Interfaith Project leader Monica Dorcey testified at a Maricopa Community College District board meeting to support increasing local investment in the community colleges. ”These community colleges are the best driver of economic development that we have,” said Dorcey, who is also a member of the board of Arizona Career Pathways, a non-profit job-training program that has a partnership with the community colleges.
“If you don’t have a skilled workforce you’re not going to have an economic recovery for everybody.”
Maricopa College District Raises Property Taxes, The Republic
May 23, 2014
TX Rep. Zerwas (R): “No Better Use of $500K Than Capital IDEA”
Leaders celebrated word that the labor market intermediary established by The Metropolitan Organization of Houston, Capital IDEA-Houston, won a Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant, giving it half a million dollars to train hundreds more community college students for living wage careers in Houston. TMO, with their sister organizations in the Texas IAF, helped establish the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant to support projects that prepare low-income workers to attain degrees and certificates in high demand occupations including nursing and information technology.
Texas State Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) highly praised Capital IDEA-Houston, declaring he “could not find a better use of $500K than to invest in Capital IDEA-Houston.”
Texas State Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) chimed in adding “we should continue to invest $5 Million in these [workforce development] projects.”
The award will support about 250 students attending Houston Community College and Lone Star College.
Financial Aid to Help Low Income Students in Houston Prepare for Careers, News 92 FM – Houston
May 22, 2014
ARRIBA Celebrates 1,000th Graduate & $500K Expansion
The same week Project ARRIBA celebrated its 1,000th graduate, leaders received word that the labor market intermediary won a Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant, giving it half a million dollars to train 300 more El Paso Community College students into living wage careers. EPISO and Border Interfaith leaders, along with other Texas IAF organizations, helped establish the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education grant to supports projects that prepare low-income workers to attain degrees and certificates in high demand occupations including nursing and information technology.
According to a 2010 report prepared by the Institute for Policy and Economic Development at the University of Texas at El Paso, Project ARRIBA’s work provides a $26 return for every dollar invested. Graduates of the labor market intermediary “contribute half a billion dollars to the El Paso economy,” ARRIBA Executive Director Roman Ortiz said.
Project ARRIBA Receives $500,000 Grant to Improve Local Workforce, KVIA Channel 7 News
Project ARRIBA Receives $500,000 to Help 300 EPCC Students, El Paso Times
May 21, 2104
MOC Leverages Supervisor Candidates Commitments for Emergency Shelter
Building on a program they created 7 years ago to provide emergency shelter for Marin residents during winter months, 250 MOC leaders succeeded in persuading both leading candidates for Marin County District 1 Supervisor to commit to finding money to expand the program to year round. Candidates Susan Adams and Damon Connolly both said yes to the crowd gathered at Congregation Rodef Sholom.
The Rotating Emergency Shelter Team (REST) program operates during five winter months each year, housing and feeding 40 men at rotating congregations — as well as 20 women housed at the County Wellness Center and served by congregations.
“We can and must do better,” said Patti Breitman of Gan Halev, who volunteers with the Homeless Help Desk at the St. Vincent De Paul Society of Marin. “It is heartbreaking to tell people there is no place to go after REST closes each year.”
Leaders additionally secured commitments for an ongoing partnership on implementation of ACA in the county and on addressing long-term affordable housing.
Press Release, Marin Organizing Committee
May 21, 2014
Sydney Alliance Leverages Commuter Lift at Arncliffe Station
Leaders long working to secure funding for a lift at the Arncliffe commuter station, celebrated Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s announcement that an elevator would be installed soon. Stroller-carrying parents, senior citizens and wheelchair using citizens launched a campaign to make the Sydney public transportation system more accessible. Leaders have identified an additional 761 stations that are not currently wheelchair accessible.
Arncliffe Commuters Get a Lift!, Sydney Alliance
Commuters Demand Rail Improvements, Yahoo Channel 7 News
1,500+ Nevadans for the Common Good Celebrate 2nd Anniversary
More than 1,500 leaders from across Nevada convened at the packed Cashman Theatre in Las Vegas to celebrate the passage of anti-sex trafficking legislation last year to and issue challenges to a broad range of public officials around multiple issues. The organization obtained solid commitments from public officials after sharing stories about elder abuse in unlicensed group homes, public transportation problems for wounded veterans and disabled, and the need for immigration reform and respite care for caregivers. The organization has grown over the last two years to include 33 member institutions. [Photo Credit: L.E. Baskow, Las Vegas Sun)
Photo Gallery 1, Las Vegas Sun
Photo Gallery 2, Democratic Faith
May 6, 2014
COPA Leverages Healthcare Win in Monterey County, California
Testifying before the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, COPA leader Elsa Quezada called for a County strategy to educate undocumented and uninsured Monterey residents about newly available healthcare services. "They are our neighbors, our friends, they go to church with us, they join us at the park, the rodeo...their children go to school with our children," she argued.
At COPA's urging, the Board approved the creation of a strategic plan and simplified "access point document" to better spread the word about healthcare access to the uninsured; both are to be produced within 90 days.
Study: Undocumented Rarely Visit Doctors, The Californian
Buscan Servicios de Salud, Univision Monterey-Salinas Channel 67
April 22, 2014
VIP & AIN Celebrate Signing of Anti-Trafficking Bill in Arizona
VIP and Arizona Interfaith Network leaders celebrated the passage and signing of groundbreaking legislation which will increase minimum penalties for sex-trafficking of minors. Both organizations were early supporters of HB 2454, which will more than double the penalty for a child-prostitution conviction from 10 years to 24 years in prison, and make pimping a racketeering offense.
The Valley Interfaith Project action team took on the issue of child trafficking earlier this year, holding research meetings to educate parishioners on the issue and lobbying legislators for support. In photo, Rabbi John Linder, Rev. Jayne Baker, Rev. Martha Seaman, Carolyn Jean Jones, Canon Ray Dugan and VIP Vice-President Dave Ryan stand with Governor Jan Brewer and Cindy McCain at the bill signing.
April 17, 2014
Austin Interfaith Advances Protections for Section 8 Voucher Users
Asserting that 9 out of 10 apartment owners indiscriminately ban Section 8 voucher users, Austin Interfaith clergy and lay leaders applauded the city council for introducing a proposal to prohibit apartment managers and owners from discriminating against Section 8 users. They described the resolution, introduced and passed on a Holy Day shared by Jewish and Christian traditions, an example of how the public can better protect the poor and most vulnerable.
New Policy Aims to Stop Discrimination Against Tenants with Housing Vouchers, Austin American Statesman
Council: Getting a Round Tuit, Austin Chronicle
March 17, 2014
13 Minutes That Could Change Your Practice - Ernesto Cortes
This video, designed to showcase the craft of experienced organizer practitioners, was shot during a 3-Day IAF Training in Las Vegas, Nevada. Click on the video at right to view clip or click here.
March 13, 2014
Catholic Church Works with TMO to Stop Closure of Houston Neighborhood Schools
When the Houston Independent School District Superintendent proposed the closure of five schools to cut costs, concerned parents noted that in at least one case students from a higher performing school would be re-directed to a struggling one. Port Houston Elementary School parents, who happened to worship at Resurrection Catholic Church, quickly organized a challenge to the closures in partnership with TMO, which their church had just joined.
Concerned TMO leaders met with HISD board members, in addition to meeting with parents and educators, to figure out how to preserve these schools. On Thursday, March 13th, over 100 leaders and parents descended upon the HISD board meeting and recognized board president Juliet Stipeche for removing Port Houston Elementary, Nathaniel Henderson Elementary and Fleming Middle School from the closure list.
In photo: Father Christopher Plant, pastor at Resurrection Catholic Church, congratulates Port Houston parents and leaders for their turnout and presentation at the HISD school board meeting.
February 20, 2014
Capital IDEA Celebrates 1,000th Graduate
Capital IDEA celebrated its 15th anniversary and 1,000th graduate at the Norris Conference Center in Austin. Elizabeth Soltero, the 1,000th graduate entertained the crowd with her story of triumph — learning English then learning her third language, Technical English, before landing a job in computer security. Elected city and county officials were in attendance, and other graduates honored — including a single father who not only worked his way through college, but volunteered at his son’s pre-school.
Facebook Album, Capital IDEA
West / Southwest IAF Labor Market Intermediaries
February 12, 2014
PCIC Outsmarts Opposition: Makes Pima, AZ “Immigrant Welcoming”
Even with a Board that included a Supervisor elected by the Tea Party, PCIC leaders leveraged a unanimous vote (5-0) in support of a resolution making Pima an "immigrant welcoming county."
Bud Foster of KOLD-TV reports that half the speakers were against the resolution. However, he notes, "the opponents were not organized like the supporters were. Most of this crowd [w]ere from the Pima County Interfaith Council.” In photo, PCIC leaders pre-meet before filing into the boardroom. Fr. Tom Tureman of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Rev. Randy Mayer of Good Shepherd of United Church of Christ spoke on behalf of the organization.
Over the last year, leaders of the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) crafted the resolution, taking into account the concerns of their institutional base and those of Supervisors. This is part of a state-wide strategy to demonstrate a constituency in Arizona that supports federal immigration reform.
County Officially Adopts “Immigrant-Welcoming” Designation, Arizona Daily Star
PCIC Photo Gallery
February 1, 2014
COPA Explodes Barriers to Healthcare Access in Monterey
Since last year’s victory in busting through political blockage to resurrect the Low Income Health Plan, Viacare, over 3,000 Monterey County residents have enrolled, doubling last year’s projections. In addition to this, and in partnership with the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, COPA institutions reached over 2500 people through civic academies about the Affordable Care Act. [Photo Credit: Nic Coury, Monterey County Weekly]
County Extends Health Insurance Bridge Program, Obamacare Enrollment Kicks In, Monterey County Weekly
January 29, 2014
Executive Order Builds on IAF’s Living Wage Tradition
It is evident that the mood of the country is shifting, and the IAF is happy to see attention being paid at the national level to the issue of wages. The President has announced plans to sign an executive order mandating a minimum wage of $10.10 / hour for all jobs that emerge from federal contracts.
An IAF affiliate, Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD), designed and passed the nation’s first living wage ordinance in 1994, requiring that City service contract workers be paid a living wage. Affiliates across the West / Southwest IAF soon launched successful living wage campaigns of their own.
January 15, 2014
Angry Jackson Citizens Vote to Tax Themselves for Infrastructure; Working Together Jackson Credited with ‘Heavy Lifting’
At a press conference less than three months before a critical city-wide vote, leaders of Working Together Jackson publicly endorsed the proposed 1% sales tax earmarked for infrastructure repairs across Jackson. The weekend before the vote, leaders reached as many as 1,200 voters by phone. Of those, about 1,000 pledged their support. And on election day, some 90% of voters supported the new tax, far surpassing the most hopeful of predictions. The Clarion Ledger credited Working Together Jackson with doing the “heavy lifting” of educating and turning out voters to pass this important initiative.
Jackson Residents Approve 1-Cent Sales Tax, Clarion-Ledger
1 Percent Sales Tax on Ballot Today, Clarion Ledger
January 7, 2014
EPISO & Border Interfaith Pass Payday Lending Reforms in El Paso
Leaders of EPISO and Border Interfaith leveraged enough City Council votes to restrict, for the first time, how much payday lenders can make off low-income families. The new payday lending reform in El Paso allows lenders to loan no more than 20% of a borrower’s gross income. Contracts must now be presented in the person’s dominant language and short-term loans cannot be rolled over without a 25% payment made towards the principal balance. Such loans can be renewed no more than three times.
Bishop Mark Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso supported these efforts to protect families from compounding debt and excessive fees. With 160 payday lending centers in El Paso, leaders are now working with the City to examine whether to restrict how many payday lenders can set up shop in low-income neighborhoods.
Lobbyists flew in from Dallas and Austin to fight this ordinance, but this did not keep the council from heeding the organized voice of families and institutions, and voting 6-1 in support.
December 10, 2013
NCG Gets Trafficking Hotline Posted at Vegas Hubs
After a bill that would have mandated the posting of the hotline number in Nevada was killed at the eleventh hour (11:30 PM on the last day of the session) due to unrelated political squabbles, leaders of Nevadans for the Common Goodpursued a local route. Barbara Bell of Green Valley UMC and Nancy Thompson of Grass Valley UMC organized a meeting with the County Commissioner to discuss posting the National Sex Trafficking Hotline number at important transportation hubs so that trafficking victims could see them. The Commissioner agreed to work with NCG and changes are already in place; the McCarran International Airport has already posted the number and plans to install the posters at bus shelters are underway. Taking the local route was an effective way to accomplish an important goal without waiting for the next legislative session in 2015. [Poster Credit: Polaris]
Stories of Human Trafficking Turn Valley Woman into Activist, Las Vegas Review Journal
December 9, 2013
Sound Alliance Helps Pass School Bond with 69.5% Vote
The Sound Alliance partnered with the Tahoma school district, parents, and other organizations to sway voters to overwhelmingly pass a school bond. Two years ago, the vote on a smaller bond failed to receive the 60% supermajority needed to pass, and failed with 53% of voters supporting it.
This time, Alliance members – led by our building trades members living in the area – negotiated with district leaders to secure a Community Workforce agreement that creates preference for hiring local residents to do the work, for using local business for material and supplies, and that creates a full range of apprenticeship opportunities for recent local graduates. More local benefits, more support.
With that commitment, Alliance members rallied to add their numbers to an already strong citizens committee – door belling in every community neighborhood, sending special mailings and making hundreds of phone calls to their members in the district.
At the end of the day, Tahoma residents voted by an overwhelming 69.5% to support the bond; compared to the April 2011 bond vote, there was a massive increase in yes votes of 74% (from 5,862 to 10,199) and an equally strong increase of 32% in voter turnout.
November 15, 2013
Sound Alliance Reaches Agreement on ICE Detainer Requests
300 leaders of the Sound Alliance and their allies reached an agreement with King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski to support an ordinance that would change how the County handles ICE “detainer requests”. Under current practice, when undocumented immigrants are arrested and taken to the County Jail, ICE often sends requests to the jail to hold them at County expense until ICE can transfer them to a nearby for-profit immigrant detention center. Under the ordinance, the County will stop honoring these requests except when an individual has been convicted of certain violent or serious crimes.
The people from a diverse mix of faith, labor, and community organizations at the assembly were excited to have an opportunity to strike a blow against our nation’s unjust immigration policy at a local level. King County has a population of over 2 million residents and includes the City of Seattle.
In photo, Sound Alliance leader Roberta Ray of University Unitarian Church receives a positive commitment from King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski.
November 4, 2013
White House Lauds Dallas Area Interfaith Enrollment Efforts
President Obama plans to meet with Dallas Area Interfaith at Temple Emanu-El, where hundreds of institutional leaders gathered last month to launch their institutional enrollment outreach strategy. Chair of the DAI Healthcare Committee Gwen Lummus explained to the Dallas Morning News that “this area had the highest percentage of uninsured in the whole country. That’s one of the reasons [DAI's] been working on this.”
Rabbi David Stern e-mailed congregants of Temple Emanu-El noting that, “With our Dallas Area Interfaith partners, Temple members have advocated for Medicaid expansion and created the Durable Medical Exchange of Dallas, along with our most recent efforts to educate citizens.”
[Photo shows last month's assembly to launch DAI's healthcare enrollment strategy.]
Obama to Visit Emanu-El , Thank Healthcare Navigators and Dallas Area Interfaith, Dallas Morning News
Obama to Talk Healthcare in Dallas, Politico
Obama to Thank Dallas Navigators, The Hill
October 25, 2013
Austin Passes Historic Living Wage Ordinance
Austin Interfaith leaders celebrated the passage of a historic living wage ordinance they had fought for over the course of five years. Institutional representatives from congregations, schools and workers associations challenged city council candidates in 2012 to craft an ordinance requiring that jobs emerging from taxpayer incentives pay at least a living wage or prevailing wage, if higher. An economic incentive team put together language, which included an exception process, that was later adopted by a Special Committee on Economic Incentives and proposed by Councilmembers Martinez, Tovo and Morrison (and enhanced by Councilmember Riley) Thursday night.
Catholic Bishop Joe Vasquez intervened reading a statement of support for the ordinance at a 6pm rally, which was later read by an Austin Interfaith leader in Council chambers. After four hours of testimony and debate, the City of Austin passed, for the first time ever, a requirement that corporations receiving taxpayer incentives be required to pay the City established living wage of $11 per hour or prevailing wages, whichever is higher.
Then There’s This: A ‘Decent Wage’, Austin Chronicle
In Austin, Workers Score Big, Texas Observer
Background on Living Wage Fight in Austin, Austin Interfaith
October 2, 2013
NAIC Secures Flagstaff Resolution For Immigration Reform
Leaders of the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council succeeded in persuading the city council of Flagstaff to adopt a resolution supporting immigration reform that reflects the essential economic role immigrants play as workers, the importance of family unity and the need for a path to citizenship. Flagstaff is the only municipality in Arizona to pass a resolution with these elements. [Photo Credit: Frank Moraga, NAZ]
September 17, 2013
Austin Leaders Leverage $2.38 Million for Investments in Youth & Young Adults
“Austin Interfaith worked from the ground up to get its priorities included in the budget….It represents the interests of low-income families and has become a familiar presence at City Hall in recent years. Austin Interfaith leaders mobilized members to show up en masse to city budget hearings to plug these programs, meet with council members and bombard council offices with calls and emails in the days leading up to the final budget vote. The nonprofit was elated that council members agreed to spend money on all of Austin Interfaith’s priorities, totaling $2.4 million.”
[Photo Credit: Felipa Rodrigues, KUT News]
Well-Organized Groups Won the Day in Austin Budget Vote, Austin American Statesman
Details on Austin Interfaith Priorities, Austin Interfaith
September 15, 2013
Del Rio Leaders Secure Funds for Domestic Violence Shelter
“A new shelter to aid victims of domestic violence is one step closer to reality. Monday, Val Verde County Judge Laura Allen and the Commissioners Court granted a one-year funding contract for $128,846 to Quad Counties Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (QCCADA) to help begin the process of opening and operating a shelter.”
Said Simon Sotelo, Director of QCCADA: ”We thank the community and the commissioners’ court for voting and demonstrating confidence in us. We thank the community for their trust and we thank the churches, the mayor’s office, The Border Organization and all the people and organizations that believe in us.”
County Commissioners Approve Funds for Domestic Violence Shelter, Del Rio News Herald
September 11, 2013
OTOC Leverages $1 Million for Demolition & Training in Omaha
Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) leaders applauded the decision of the Mayor and City Council to finalize $957,000 for demolition of condemned houses and $25,000 to support job training in the 2014 Budget.
OTOC advocated for increased demolitionfunding in the 2013 budget and as a result, approximately 93 structures will be demolished this year, nearly triple the number from 2012. OTOC expects that the $957,000 in demolition funding in the adopted budget will allow the city to demolish over one hundred dangerous, condemned buildings in 2014. “These demolitions will heighten the quality of life for neighborhoods, businesses, and nearby institutions like churches and schools like the one where I work ” said OTOC leader Karen McElroy.
Additionally, the City Council committed $25,000 to Heartland Workforce Solutions at OTOC’s request.
September 6, 2013
COPS / Metro Convenes 100 Stakeholders for ACA Planning
With about 100,000 Bexar County residents eligible to get healthcare insurance through the exchange, leaders from COPS/Metro Alliance and University Health System brought together close to 100 community stakeholders to evaluate ACA implementation readiness and identify concerns. The first enrollment period for the subsidized insurance runs from Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. Leaders aim to develop a comprehensive plan to educate San Antonio area residents on the launch and impact of the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare Insurance Marketplace provision.
[Photo Credit: John Davenport, San Antonio Express News]
Confusion Over Health Insurance Exchange, NBC Channel 4 News
University Health System to Lead Affordable Care Act Education, San Antonio Business Journal
August 29, 2013
AZ Interfaith Convenes Key Leadership for Immigration Reform
Arizona Interfaith Network‘s ‘Making an Impact on Immigration Reform’ assembly drew 150 clergy and laity (including five denominational bishops) for lengthy, frank and bipartisan conversation with Senator John McCain and US Representative Raul Grijalva about the strategy needed to pass immigration reform this fall. Both concluded that the next two months are critical, with serious consideration in the House to commence late September and October. Arizona Interfaith clergy leaders are laying the groundwork for a statewide response this fall.
[In photo: Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas addresses the audience, Senator McCain and Rep. Grijalva. Photo Credit: Linda Victoria]
August 28, 2013
Border Interfaith & EPISO Leverage $1.5 Million for Training
Citing evidence that the regional return on investment for Project ARRIBA‘s workforce development is $26 for every $1 invested, the City Council of El Paso voted to increase funding to $1.5 Million over five years, rather than the $1.25 Million initially recommended by city staff. This is the single largest city investment in ARRIBA since its inception.
This funding will enable the project to support the training and placement of 600 El Pasoans into living wage careers in the border region. Organization leaders are hopeful that this will help leverage matching funds from the State of Texas through the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant Program.
[In photo: Leaders from EPISO, Border Interfaith and Project ARRIBA explain what happened to reporters.]
$1.5 Million Approved to Help Students, KTSM News Channel 9
August 28, 2013
Texas IAF Reconstitutes Launchpad (Job Training) Fund to $5M
“The Launchpad Fund, which gave nonprofits $10 million starting in the 2010-11 biennium to support career training programs for low-income students, will be replaced by the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education Grant program. The ACE grant program will award about $5 million under a similar model to nonprofits for the next biennium. It will be administered by Austin Community College, which will step into the comptroller’s office’s current oversight role….
Said Minerva Camarena-Skeith, a representative of Austin Interfaith, the nonprofit that helped found Capital IDEA with business community members and advocates for public funding: “It still gives these job-training programs the opportunity to apply for these $5 million, and also be able to leverage more city and local funds.”
[Photo Credit: Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune]
Job Training Program Adjusts Amid Funding Cuts, Texas Tribune
Governor Signs Bill: $5 Million for Adult Career Training, Network of Texas IAF Organizations
August 12, 2013
AZ Interfaith Meets with Senator John McCain, Reaffirming Support for Immigration Reform
Taking full advantage of the August recess, Arizona Interfaith leaders met with Senator John McCain for frank conversation about the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform. Judicatory leaders and key Arizona clergy discussed with the Senator how to broaden Congressional support for reform that includes a path to citizenship.
McCain: Backing Immigration Reform Sends Right Message, Arizona Republic
August 10, 2013
Austin Interfaith & Allies Victorious in Defense of Workers
In the latest segment of a long-standing battle for living wages in Central Texas, 200 supporters of construction workers, including Austin Interfaith leaders, Catholic Bishop Joe Vasquez of the Austin Diocese and Workers Defense Project, rallied on the steps of City Hall demanding that workers receive the pay promised to them by developers of White Lodging, in exchange for $3.8 million in fee waivers granted by the City.
After an hour of testimony from both sides, City Council voted unanimously to stand by its revocation of economic incentives in light of the developers’ refusal to pay the promised prevailing wages.
[Photo Credit: Alberto Martinez, Austin American Statesman]
How Austin’s Marriott Incentive Deal Fell Apart, Austin American Statesman
Council Approves Revoking of Marriott Incentives, Austin American Statesman
July 17, 2013
‘Quest’s Results…Extraordinary’ Says Head of Taskforce
“Trying and difficult circumstances, namely the closing of San Antonio’s Levi Strauss plant, inspired the visionary leadership that created Project Quest more than 21 years ago. Different, but equally challenging circumstances, have led to redefining that vision that will carry Quest forward stronger than ever for the next 20 or more years.
Quest, a nationally-awarded workforce development agency, was founded by COPS/Metro Alliance, leaders of the business community, the city of San Antonio, the state of Texas and the regional Private Industry Council…”
[Photo of AJ Rodriguez By William Luther, San Antonio Express-News]
New Vision for Project Quest, San Antonio Express News
Who Can Fix the “Middle-Skills” Gap?, Harvard Business Review
June 28, 2013
Austin Interfaith Preserves 173 Affordable Housing Units
…Koreena Malone, president of the Oak Creek Tenants Association, said a cohesive agreement was reached on the redevelopment through the partnership of the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, the tenants association and the developer. ’I strongly believe that the redevelopment of Oak Creek Village won’t just lead us to a better community but a model for the city of Austin,’ Malone said.
The Oak Creek Village complex, located at 2324 Wilson St., has 173 units that qualify as affordable housing. According to city documents, the developer is planning to keep all of the affordable housing units in the complex and build up to 313 new market-rate units…The developer also entered into an agreement … to provide on-site, affordable housing for 35 years. Said Kurt Cadena-Mitchell, an Austin resident and leader of Austin Interfaith,… ‘It will lead to a more livable neighborhood and will lead to a more livable Austin.’”
Oak Creek Village Strikes a Deal, Austin Chronicle
Oak Creek Village Redevelopment Approved by Austin City Council, Community Impact
June 25, 2013
AMOS Wins $200K for Project IOWA: Governor Signs Bill
Republican Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa signed into law a bill that will appropriate $100,000 per year for Project IOWA for the next two years. Project IOWA is a labor market intermediary that prepares adults for dignified participation in the labor market by training for jobs that already exist, and thus also helping employers find motivated and skilled workers. Project IOWA was established with the support of AMOS to better address the jobs -skills mismatch in the state.
June 24, 2013
Common Ground Launches with 1,500 Delegates in Vallejo, CA
“An enthusiastic crowd of about 1,500 people filled a Vallejo high school gym Sunday afternoon to welcome a new multi-county organization to the community.
Common Ground was introduced at the convention, which was attended by members of its 15 member institutions, and Napa and Solano counties and state elected officials. The broad-based organization is made of religious and non-profit organizations from Vallejo, Benicia, Fairfield, American Canyon and Napa, who ‘have the capacity to act on the issues in our community,’ said co-chairman Todd Bertani, of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Fairfield.”
June 19, 2013
Central Texas Religious Leaders Call for Immigration Reform
In a prayer service and press conference organized by Austin Interfaith, Central Texas Bishops and clergy from six religious denominations “pressed Tuesday for reforms centered on keeping families together and allowing unauthorized immigrants to earn legal residency with a path to citizenship….[stating] such principles are key to what they called just and humane immigration reforms.”
Central Texas Religious Leaders: Immigration Change Must be Just, Humane, Austin American Statesman [Printable version]
June 6, 2013
Nevada Governor Signs Anti Sex Trafficking Bill into Law
Governor Brian Sandoval signed ground breaking anti-sex trafficking legislation in the presence of ‘Nevadans for the Common Good.’ Leaders had fought hard to crack down on the pimps that recruit young people into prostitution, including organizing assemblies, press conferences and legislative visits to Carson City. Said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, “Nevadans for the Common Good have been a driving force behind this bill.”
[Photo Credit: Cathleen Allison, Las Vegas Review Journal]
Interfaith Groups, Non-Profits Valleywide Back Bill to Stop Sex Trafficking, Las Vegas Review Journal (07/29)
Governor Signs Sex Trafficking Bill Aimed at PimpsLas Vegas Review Journal (06/06)
June 5, 2013
Scottsdale USD Joins VIP Call for Increased School Funding
“The Valley Interfaith Project is sparking a grass-roots movement to increase school funding statewide, and the Scottsdale Unified School District is the first to jump onboard.
Last week, the Scottsdale district governing board endorsed a resolution calling on the state Legislature ‘to fulfill its constitutional duty to fully restore the recent cuts in school funding.’
The resolution, which notes that the state has cut base funding to the district by $20 million since 2008, was drafted by a group of parents in the district who are working with Valley Interfaith Project, a non-profit group of 40 churches and other institutions that promotes civic engagement. Valley Interfaith also is active in advocating for the expansion of Medicare in Arizona, and supported a tax increase imposed by the Maricopa Community Colleges.”
May 31, 2013
Superintendent Agrees to Expand RGV Adult Education Efforts
“On Thursday evening, King spoke to over 100 adults who are either participating in the Valley Interfaith GED program or waiting to do so. The house meeting was held at St. John the Baptist’s in San Juan. Speaking in Spanish, King praised those participating in the GED program and spoke about his vision for scaling up what Valley Interfaith has started….
….asked if the GED en Español program could be scaled up to match the obvious demand, King had no doubts. ’I have no doubt at all. We will find a way to do it.’”
[Photo Credit: Rio Grande Guardian]
King Plans to Scale Up Valley Interfaith Efforts, Rio Grande Guardian
May 22, 2013
VIP Secures Backing for Maricopa Community Colleges
“Valley Interfaith Project, a community organization composed of religious and civic leaders, spoke in support of the tax hike, telling the board members that the increase was small but would yield a good return on investment. ’The state has placed our educational system in a vise grip and now only provides 1 percent of the funding for the district,’ Monica Dorcey said.
‘The Legislature has simply passed the buck on its responsibility to be good stewards of our economic future. They placed an added burden on our local government to make up the difference,’ said Dorcey, who also is a member of the board of Arizona Career Pathways, a non-profit job-training program that has a partnership with the community colleges.”
MCCCD Approves Tax Hike, Arizona Republic
May 6, 2013
800 VIP Leaders Renew Call for Expanded Medicaid in Arizona with Governor Jan Brewer & Key Legislators
“Meeting city, state, faith and education leaders on Thursday, [Republican] Sen. John McComish, of District 18, voiced his continued support for Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to expand Medicaid in the state at a panel hosted by the Valley Interfaith Project (VIP)…..McComish and [Republican State] Rep. Heather Carter, of District 15, pushed the expansion that would give Medicaid to about 300,000 low-income Arizona residents.
VIP’s crowd included nearly 800 people from surrounding churches, school districts and organizations.” [Photo by David Jolkovski, Ahwatukee Foothills News]
McComish Voices Support for Governor’s Medicaid Expansion, Ahwatukee Foothills News (05/06)
Refusing Medicaid Expansion Means Abandoning Neighbors, Arizona Central (05/19)
April 30, 2013
‘Together Louisiana’ Leaders Keep Pressure on Gov. Jindal
“With a call for a “pragmatic” approach to the expansion of Medicaid healthcare for the poor, the leaders of the Together Louisiana alliance of congregations has challenged Governor Bobby Jindal and lawmakers to work with the federal government on expanding health coverage for the poor. ”We don’t need an ideological discussion about Obamacare,” the Rev. Melvin Rushing of Baton Rouge told a State Capitol rally. ”We need our state’s technocrats to sit down with the national Medicaid technocrats and work through this issue as the practical, pragmatic matter it is.”
“Our Views: Poor need coverage,” The Advocate (4/29)
“Medicaid expansion wins support,” The Advocate (4/24)
“Editorial: If Gov. Jindal won’t accept Medicaid expansion, lawmakers should,” The Times Picayune (4/24)
April 24, 2013
Project IOWA Celebrates One Year of Success
“Douglas Wells’ path to a well-paying job with potential for advancement had a few bumps, but the 27-year-old credits perseverance and a publicly and privately funded training and mentoring program with helping him reach his goal.
Wells completed a welding course and has been working at the Bridgestone Firestone tire plant in Des Moines. For now he is driving a forklift, but he is sure there are opportunities for advancement. More important, this father of two young girls will be able to set an example…. [In photo: Douglas Wells speaks at the Iowa Capitol. Photo Credit: Rodney White, Des Moines Register]
Wells is one of 57 participants in the Project Iowa program who have completed job training…The initiative was formed last year by AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy).”
Year of Success in Training Program, Des Moines Register
April 24, 2013
TMO Press Conference Responds to Immigration Bill
“[Gabriela] Nieto spoke Tuesday during a news conference called by The Metropolitan Organizationat which Houston faith and business leaders responded to a new plan for comprehensive immigration reform. The legislation, unveiled last week by a bipartisan group of senators, is the first major overhaul of U.S. immigration policy since 1986.
Speakers including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel said the highest priority should be creating a process for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship.”
[Photo: Business leader Stan Marek, flanked by Catholic Bishop DiNardo and UMC Bishop Janice Riggle Hui. Photo Credit: Olivia Tallet, La Voz]
Faith, Business Leaders Encouraged by Immigration Bill, Houston Chronicle
Clergy Urge Support for Immigration Reform, Jewish Herald Voice
April 11, 2013
Valley Interfaith Brings Spanish GED Prep to Hidalgo County
In civic academies on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Valley Interfaith leaders learned that there were almost no Spanish GED classes or testing sites in the County of Hidalgo and a lack of classes to prepare. This led some to travel hours to Brownsville – the only available site in the Rio Grande Valley.
Leaders worked with the McAllen Independent School System and St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church to expand Spanish language GED preparation classes, and with South Texas College to begin Spanish GED testing in Hidalgo County. Today, more than 60 students are enrolled. [Photo Credit: Steve Taylor, Rio Grande Guardian]
Valley Interfaith Plans to Expand GED En Espanol Program, Rio Grande Guardian
April 8, 2013
Project IOWA Gives Workers Stability and Dignity
“Jalissa Daniels wrote dark poetry as an early adolescent…She became pregnant at 15, graduated from Scavo Alternative High School and worked at convenient stores and temp agencies. Even though these jobs helped pay the bills, they were not fulfilling…Finding full-time work with benefits was looking grim…
The[n] Rev. Diane McClanahan, one of the pastors at Trinity United Methodist Church, encouraged Jalissa to consider a new program called Project IOWA, which was initiated by AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy)….”
This ‘Village’ is Helping the Underemployed, Des Moines Register
March 8, 2013
Arizona Bishops & Clergy Strategize on Immigration Reform
75 bishops and clergy from Lutheran, Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist faiths strategized on the future of immigration reform at an ecumenical gathering organized by the Arizona Interfaith Network.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas, of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson told the group that “today is a day to develop…strategies” and challenged clergy, asking “what can we do to mobilize our congregations?” Episcopal Bishop Kirk Smith asserted that “the current system is broken, cruel and an affront to God and man.”
[Photo Credit: Nicole Krug, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona]
Interfaith Immigration Gathering Held, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona
March 6, 2013
NTO Rallies at Capitol Again For Texas Medicaid Expansion
“Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday on the front steps of the Capitol to rally in support of Medicaid expansion….Willie Bennett, along with 45 other members of theDallas Area Interfaith, turned up for the march that snaked down Congress Avenue and up to the Capitol. Bennett said more than 3,000 individuals and 38 institutions had signed up in favor of Medicaid expansion.”
“Anderson and her 66-year-old mother, Martha Anderson, were among about 60 Tarrant County residents who gathered at the St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Fort Worth … for the 200-mile bus trip to Austin. The trip was organized by the Allied Communities of Tarrant (ACT)” in coordination with the Network of Texas Organizations, including Austin Interfaith, The Border Organization, EPISO, Border Interfaith, TMO, WIN, WTOS, Valley Interfaith and COPS / Metro Alliance.
Protesters March on Texas Capitol for Expanded Medicaid, Star Telegram
Hundreds March to Capitol to Show Support for Medicaid Expansion, Dallas Morning News
February 27, 2013
PCIC Wins In-State Tuition for DACA Students in Pima County
150 PCIC leaders, DREAMers and their parents filled the Board Room at Pima Community College and cheered when the Board of Governors voted 4-1 in favor of in-state tuition discounts for DACA students. Currently, hundreds of undocumented local students pay five times the in-state rate and are not eligible for financial aid.
PCIC leader Melanie Nelson spoke of the six Deferred Action Civic Academies held at her church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, last fall. “These students have lawful status now, but they can’t afford the high tuition. Before DACA we had several attempted suicides in our parish. Now they need an pathway to an education and a future,” she said. Before the vote, Jimmy Ojeda, a homeowner and parent, from St. John’s, and Monica Leon, a U of A graduate, from Casa Maria Catholic Worker shared their own immigration stories. The group’s goal is now to get the University of Arizona system to follow Pima’s lead.
February 27, 2013
COPS / Metro Wins Bexar County Support for Medicaid
“On a bipartisan vote, Bexar County commissioners Tuesday urged Texas lawmakers to expand the state’s Medicaid program and take advantage of federal matching funds under the Affordable Care Act.2014 to 2017, expansion will bring $27.2 billion in federal revenue to Texas for just over $3 billion in state investments,” said [Republican]County Judge Nelson Wolff….
“Medicaid expansion is a must,” COPS member Gloria Mora said. “As people of faith and as Christians, we find it morally repugnant that the state leadership would deny health care to a large segment of our population,” she said.”
Bexar Commissioners Urge Medicaid Expansion, San Antonio Express News
February 26, 2013
Valley Interfaith Leverages Hidalgo County Support for Medicaid
“…Valley Interfaith members were at Hidalgo County Commissioners Court to urge commissioners to pass a resolution in support of Adult Medicaid. In a news release, Valley Interfaith said it urges other counties in the Valley to stand also in support. The Rev. Javier Leyva, a Valley Interfaith leader, pointed out that expanding Medicaid would bring over $400 million in Medicaid funds to Hidalgo County and nearly $670 million to the Valley overall.”
Hidalgo County Passes Resolution in Support of Medicaid Expansion, Rio Grande Guardian
February 20, 2013
Network of Texas Organizations Fights for Medicaid Expansion
Religious leaders and clergy from throughout the state gathered at the north entrance the Capitol on Wednesday at noon to rally in support of Medicaid expansion…”
[Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune]
Interfaith Groups Rally for Medicaid Expansion, Texas Tribune
Death, Taxes, God and Medicaid, San Antonio Express-News
County Judges, Clergy Rally in Favor of Expanding Medicaid, Dallas Morning News
Rally at Capitol Urges Texas to Spend More on Medicaid, Star Telegram
Interfaith Groups Rally for Medicaid Expansion, The Monitor
El Paso Group Joins Others to Urge Expansion of Medicaid, El Paso Times
February 20, 2013
Austin Interfaith Leverages County Support for Medicaid
“At the urging of Austin Interfaith, the Travis County Commissioners Court this week passed a resolution supporting expansion. Dallas County has approved a similar resolution, and Bexar County is expected to do the same next week….
County and legislative leaders joined members of religious organizations, including Austin Interfaith, in a rally outside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to urge Texas lawmakers to expand the number of low-income people covered by Medicaid.”
Religious Leaders, Politicians, Rally for Medicaid Expansion, Austin American Statesman
February 19, 2013
One LA Wins Fight to Enroll Thousands in Healthcare Services
One LA leaders fought for and won “Community Partner Status” with the LA County Department of Health Services, granting it direct access to the county enrollment system. Now 50 leaders will train to become ‘Certified Application Assisters’, with the power to directly enroll people through the County computer system at 25 One LA mobile enrollment events at member institutions. They will be supported 30 leaders at each institution trained as ‘healthcare experts,’ who will educate and recruit people to attend their institiution’s events. The goal is to enroll thousands of eligible LA residents.
February 13, 2013
Northern Louisiana Interfaith Leverages $208K for NOVA
The Delta Regional Authority awarded workforce development project NOVA $208 thousand to expand training opportunities further into the Delta region. But before doing so, the proposal had to win the approval of Republican Congressman Rodney Alexander and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Northern Louisiana Interfaith successful urged both officials to sign off, which will allow NOVA to pull more people out of working poverty.
DRA Funding Benefits NOVA, The News Star
January 29, 2013
Nebraska Leaders Improve Police & ICE Treatment of Immigrants
After leaders of OTOC’s Immigration Action Team challenged Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer to ensure that immigrants stopped by OPD officers receive fair treatment, OPD issued an official bulletin to all officers informing them that the matricula consular could be accepted as valid identification. (The matricula consular is an identification card issued by consulates verifying the place of residence for foreign nationals.) Photo shows leaders in early encounter with Chief Schmaderer.
OTOC leaders also met with the head of Douglas County Corrections and the regional director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about ways to reduce the number of immigrants with small children being detained in Douglas County jails while they await deportation hearings. ICE has now implemented a new release program which allows up to 100 persons who would otherwise be detained to return home to their families while they await their hearings.
January 16, 2013
Austin Interfaith Leverages Unanimous Vote for In-District Charter School
“School board members have lauded the process that Travis Heights used to garner support for the transformation, which they approved last month. Unlike the district’s failed partnership with [another charter school]… the move to turn Travis Heights into a charter school had the enthusiastic backing of the school’s parents and teachers, joined byAustin Interfaith and Education Austin.
‘It’s a real democratic process that empowers the parents, empowers the teachers, empowers the students,’ said Britt Adams, a special education teacher at the school.”
[Photo Credit: Laura Skelding, Austin American Statesman]
Travis Heights Will Be Austin District’s First Home-Grown Charter School, Austin American Statesman
New Charter Gets School Board Blessing, KXAN (12/18)
Austin School Trustees Vote to End IDEA Charter Partnership, Austin American Statesman (12/18)
January 16, 2013
COPA Celebrates Low Income Healthcare Victory
When COPA leaders discovered a lapsed initiative to provide healthcare to low-income adults in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, leaders organized an assembly with seven out of the ten county supervisors and leveraged commitments to bust through the political blockage to resurrect ViaCare. Congregational and labor leaders of COPA rejoiced when the Monterey Board of Supervisors voted to implement the Low Income Health Care Plan (LIHP) and to extend healthcare coverage to as many as 1,500 additional adults. Said St. Mary of the Nativity Catholic Church and SEIU United Long Term Care Worker leader Mario Torres: “Now sooner, rather than later, I will have a doctor’s appointment and that feels great.”
See more extensive Media Coverage here.