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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"When COVID-19 came to California, the California organizations of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations, immediately sprang into action. They began organizing virtual meetings at the local level — hundreds of community members gathering every week primarily to share how they were doing....

In the summer of 2021, the California IAF organized an action. Six hundred leaders from over 100 parishes and community-based institutions gathered together virtually to call on the state to extend its eviction moratorium and reform its housing relief program....

The organizing work of the California IAF around housing has revealed two truths that should be held in tension with one another. First, government must do more to address the housing crisis. Public policy and investment are necessary to make housing more affordable.

But, second, government can often be disconnected with how things are working in communities. Effective government depends on the local expertise contained by those who are seeking a decent home. Solving the housing crisis in California hinges on the involvement of our parishes continuously working to ensure that government intervention matches the local needs of our people."

[In Photo: Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of San Jose.  Photo Credit: Tyler Osburn, CNS]

The Fight for Fair Housing in California, and How the Industrial Areas Foundation Helped ResidentsThe Dialog [pdf]

The latest video by the (Tony Hawk Foundation) Skatepark Project highlight stories of community transformation in and from the installation of the Lauridsen Skatepark in Des Moines, Iowa. 

"There was a dogged persistence in skaters trying to land whatever they were trying to learn," notes IAF organizer Paul Turner.  "In terms of advocacy, it's kind of the same."

The full story, told by Turner and AMOS leader Jan Hill, can be read in the Des Moines Register.    

Des Moines Lauridsen Skatepark: Tracing a 17-year Journey, From a Nuisance to a Metro TreasureDes Moines Register [pdf]

Story Behind America's Largest SkateparkRIDE Channel [video]

After two weeks of intensive mobilizing by COPA (Communities Organized for relational Power in Action), leaders secured a nine-month, $1.59M extension of the VIDA community health worker (CHW) program in Monterey County.  The 4-1 vote by the County Board of Supervisors extended the VIDA program at current levels to the end of 2022, preventing a reduction from 48 to 18 CHWs by the end of the month.

Prior to the vote, COPA leaders met with their district supervisors, telling stories about the impact of VIDA and asking that they support the extension.

At an online event drawing over 100 leaders, two County Supervisors and allies including the Community Foundation of Monterey County and the Grape Growers & Vintners Association, leaders taught attendees about the effectiveness of the program.  

Fr. Lucas, a priest from King City, shared how he narrowly avoided infecting 200 parishioners at a weekend retreat because Maricela Acevedo, one of the CHWs, and a member of his parish persuaded him to test everyone prior.  When one of the women on the kitchen crew was found to be positive, Maricela went to her house to test other family members.

Another woman, who speaks only Mixteco (an indigenous language in Mexico) got her questions about the vaccines answered only because one of the CHWs, Claudia, speaks both Mixteco and Spanish.  Claudia not only helped the woman register for a vaccination appointment, she came to the house when called weeks later to administer rapid tests and help infected family members quarantine. 

COPA first proposed the VIDA program to the Monterey County Supervisors, who voted unanimously in December of 2020 to allocate $4.9M to hire 100 CHWs.  VIDA is administered by the Community Foundation of Monterey County.

[Photo Credit: Daniel Dreifuss, Monterey Weekly]

As It Heads to the Board of Supervisors to Request Additional Funds, Here's How the VIDA Project has Impacted People's LivesMonterey County Weekly [pdf]

Local Organizations Seek County Support to Extend VIDA Community Health Worker ProgramMonterey County Weekly [pdf]


"The Diocese of Monterey is in the beginning stages of the synod, training parish groups to go out and listen to the experiences of everyone, including those on the margins. Bishop Garcia and Deacon David Ford, who is leading the process in the diocese, both have experience working with community organizing groups in the past. They were quick to enlist their help with the synod.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” said Bishop Garcia, who had been meeting with Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action, or COPA, since he arrived in Monterey. COPA is an association of community organizers based in California. “There are already some processes out there,” the bishop said. COPA “does a really good job of getting the pulse of the people. We’ve been really happy about how, at least initially, it’s going.”

Diocesan leaders planned to host five separate regional meetings to train leaders throughout the diocese about how to carry out the synod at their parish. Bishop Garcia invited pastors to attend along with a group of parishioners who would lead the synod at their church."

[Photo Credit:Diocese of Monterey]

A California Bishop Invited Community Organizers to Help with the Synod. So Far, It’s WorkingAmerica the Jesuit Review [pdf]

Catalina_Aldaco_VIP_leader.jpgValley Interfaith Project (VIP) and St. Francis Xavier Catholic leaders leveraged more than $5 million to improve neighborhood safety in the Maryvale region of Phoenix following a year-long organizing effort.

In Spring 2021, leaders from St. Francis Xavier began a house meeting campaign to develop a team of leaders to learn about issues affecting Maryvale families.  Leaders heard stories about unlit neighborhoods, gang activity, and dangerous streets. They moved to meet with City of Phoenix council members from districts 4 & 5 to secure commitments from them to address these issues.

By the summer of 2021, VIP and St. Francis Xavier leaders secured more than 30 new street lamps in the same sites VIP leaders had identified as needing lighting and where crime was an issue.

In early 2022, the Phoenix City Council voted to approve more than $5 million dollars to create a safety corridor along 27th Avenue -- installing new lighting and traffic cameras, implementing street safety features and assigning added officers to address ongoing vandalism and gang activity.  At the time of the vote, Phoenix City Councilwoman Laura Pastor recognized VIP for its work in bringing this issue to the City's attention and making this project a possibility. 

[In photo, St. Francis Xavier and VIP leader Catalina Aldaco announces the win at VIP's leaders assembly.]

Phoenix Considers Safety and Crime Prevention Project for 27th Avenue Corridor, KJZZ [pdf]

Phoenix Approves $5M Safety Plan Targeting 27th Ave., 12 News 

Isingoma_and_Senators_IMG_7481_VIP_02_2022.jpgValley Interfaith Project (VIP), along with allied organizations, temporarily averted a $1 billion funding crisis for Arizona public schools. A decades-old spending limit would have required school districts to abide by 1980 spending levels without legislative action.  Normally, the legislature would vote to override the limit as a routine procedure.  However, partisan brinkmanship, amidst a closely divided legislature, led to individual legislators withholding their votes.

While school district budgets were based on funding that the Legislature had approved last year, this arbitrary spending limit, if left unchecked, would have resulted in massive budget cuts as soon as April 1, 2022.  The cuts would have amounted to $1.2 billion statewide, resulting in widespread layoffs or school closures.

VIP leaders met with individual legislators and mobilized a flood of constituent phone calls in key areas. On February 21st, only one week before the statutory deadline, the Senate followed the House's lead and voted to allow school districts to exceed the arbitrary spending limit for the current school year.

While leaders celebrated the last-minute fix, the long-term outlook has Arizona revisiting this crisis every year until voters can repeal the outdated spending limit.  VIP leaders hosted a leaders assembly with two senators to explore a more permanent resolution.

[In photo: Revs. Brooke Isingoma and Martha Seaman discuss the spending limit with State Senators Tyler Pace and Sean Bowie.]

"Arizona Senate Votes to Raise Education Spending Limit, Avoiding Big School Funding Cuts," Arizona Republic [pdf]

Arizona Interfaith Network (AIN) leveraged a $5 million investment from the state of Arizona to help hundreds of families step into economic security with the expansion of long-term workforce development initiatives JobPath in Pima County and Arizona Career Pathways in Maricopa County.

AIN leaders worked with state legislators to direct $5 million from Arizona’s federal Coronavirus relief funding to expand the program in the wake of the pandemic.  This investment will ensure that low-income families can access high-quality education and training for lower earning families.

The completion rate for Arizona Career Pathways is 90%, the job placement rate is 85%, and the average starting wage is $24.50 per hour.

JobPath is an initiative of Pima County Interfaith and Arizona Career Pathways is a Valley Interfaith Project initiative.

Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) has for several years worked toward developing permanent housing solutions for unsheltered people.  That goal was advanced Tuesday, as the Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to accept a state "Project Homekey" grant and move forward with a site in an abandoned nursing home, creating permanent supportive housing for 43 people.

Hundreds of leaders from MOC member institutions signed and shared the petition in support of the project, wrote letters to the Board, and spoke at the Board meeting both in person and over Zoom. While the project faced significant opposition, MOC demonstrated to elected officials that MOC leaders support and believe in this project. 

[In photo: Former nursing home to be converted into permanent, supportive housing. Credit: Shary LaVars, Marin Independent Journal]

Marin Voice: In Support of ‘Housing First,’ Supervisors Should Push for Larkspur Homekey SiteMarin Independent Journal [pdf]

Following an opposition campaign by Texas IAF organizations, Comptroller Glenn Hegar is backing away from his proposal to gut Chapter 313 reporting and accountability requirements in the program’s final year of existence. Hegar signaled the change Friday after significant pushback by Chapter 313 critics, including a press conference held by Texas IAF organizations in December, and a barrage of public comments submitted to his office against the proposal, with the largest portion coming from Texas IAF leaders.

During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Texas IAF, along with allies, stopped the reauthorization of Chapter 313, the State’s largest corporate tax subsidy program. Though the current program, which costs taxpayers $1-2 Billion per year, is set to expire in December of 2022, Comptroller Hegar had proposed in November to reduce the reporting requirements on jobs, wages, and overall costs to taxpayers.

“Comptroller Hegar has recognized the voices of voters from across the political spectrum, including our organizations, and now says the data we are concerned will continue to be available,” said Bob Fleming, a leader with The Metropolitan Organization, the IAF affiliate in Houston. “However, we remain vigilant because he says the rules will still be revised and made ‘more efficient’. Given the history of this failed and discontinued program, we need even more transparency and accountability, not less.”


[Photo Credit: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle]

After Backlash, Texas Comptroller Abandons Plan to Hide Details of Controversial Tax Break ProgramHouston Chronicle [pdf]

Network of Texas IAF Organizations, Press Release

In Des Moines, Iowa AMOS leaders organized a listening campaign in which they learned how the pandemic was wreaking havoc on the mental health of their children.  They then launched a research campaign with 85 local officials and health system leaders to undergird the creation a new child crisis support system in central Iowa that includes: the hiring of two mobile crisis responders trained to work with children and adolescents by the Broadlawns Medical Center; a new Polk County Children’s Crisis Mental Health System including a warm line, community stabilization team, youth stabilization center; and youth-trained mobile crisis team.  At a delegates assembly, leaders furthermore secured commitments from the Des Moines Police Chief to hire a mental health clinician within 911 dispatch.

Each piece required careful consideration and mobilization of community leadership to demonstrate political support.  For example, 100 AMOS leaders appeared at a Broadlawns Medical Center Board Meeting to support the hiring of two mobile crisis responders trained to work with children and adolescents.  During the hearing, one of the Trustees declared, "Wow, that's a lot of people."  

AMOS leaders followed up on this and other plants of the program, inspired by thousands of Polk County residents who shared stories based on their experiences, conducted research, and organized postcard campaigns and neighborhood walks over 4 years to make new children's crisis support system a reality.

New Mental Health Resources Coming for Children in Polk CountyDes Moines Register  [pdf]

Polk County Unveils New Mental Health Services for ChildrenKCCI Des Moines [pdf]

With sadness, we report the loss of Michael Clements, longtime IAF organizer. He served as organizer with TMO and predecessor organizations of One-LA during a career that spanned four decades.


After supporting farm workers [with United Farm Workers of America], Clements joined the Industrial Areas Foundation, the longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations in the nation, and moved to Houston to work for the organization... [Back in California], Clements crossed paths with Fred Ross, Sr.... 

Said Fred Ross, Jr., a Bay Area-based social justice organizer: “My father respected Mike and saw him as one of the up-and- coming organizers back in 1985.”


Said [Cardinal Roger] Mahony, “He was the epitome of a great community organizer backed up by his wonderful Catholic faith, especially the social teachings of the church, which he knew inside and out from the Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891 all the way to Pope Francis today.”

[Photo Credit: Scott Smeltzer, Los Angeles Times]

On the Passing of IAF Boardmember Bishop Douglas Miles
by Ernesto Cortes, Jr.

The passing of Bishop Miles is a great loss to all of us.  We shared the earth with him for far too short a time.

He modeled character and leadership, while at the same time teaching those who were marginalized how to be their own agents.  Of him it could be said that he invited all the challenges of Matthew 25: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, break free the captives and take in the stranger.  

He was a man of faith and a full human being.  He embodied Pope Francis’ notion of being a political person.  And he was our friend.

We Mourn Together: Bishop Douglas Miles

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Bishop Douglas Miles, IAF Co-Chair and BUILD Co-Chair Emeritus, passed away August 3, 2021 after complications from heart surgery. 

Bishop was a giant of a man, pastor, leader and friend. For more than 50 years, Bishop Douglas Miles (in photo from left, marching with Pastor Prentice at right) has been on the front-lines of every major social change in Baltimore and every major fight led by IAF. 

As longstanding Metro IAF and BUILD Leader Carol Reckling said, “It’s almost unfathomable to grasp Bishop’s reach. One way or another he impacted every one of us."

We were blessed with one of the greatest. We are all part of his legacy. We miss him dearly and are reminded of the words from God to the prophet that Bishop often closed out actions with, "Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us? And the voice of the prophet responded, 'Here am I, send me.’”

Let us continue to answer the call and fight the good fight. As we grieve his loss, may his incredible prophetic voice, brilliant wisdom, deep laughter, and shared memory guide us.

Please hold his dear wife Rose Miles, sons Pastor Dante and Harvey Miles, his entire family, Koinonia Baptist Church and BUILD in your prayers.

Bishop Douglas Miles, Who Advocated for Baltimore's Impoverished Residents and Co-Headed BUILD, DiesBaltimore Sun [pdf]

Sister Christine Stephens, CDP entered eternal life on July 18, 2019 at the age of 78. She was the younger of two daughters born to Walter Irving and Frances Louise (Bulian) Stephens. She was born December 22, 1940 in Austin, Texas and was given the Baptismal name, Mary Christine. She entered the Congregation of Divine Providence on September 7, 1962 and professed first vows as a Sister of Divine Providence on June 22, 1964. Sister Christine graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics prior to entering Our Lady of the Lake Convent. She later earned a Master of Arts in History from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

Sister Christine attributes her faith formation to her parents who set the example of perseverance and seeking justice for one’s family and community. Her father was a member of the pipe fitters union. This foundation served Sister Christine in her first seven years as a teacher, then as a social worker for eight years, and expanded and deepened when she became an organizer 45 years ago.

Sister Christine did not choose organizing as a ministry, it chose her. She was spotted by her now close friend and mentor, Ernesto Cortés, Jr., who said it was her anger that caught his attention. That was the first time she viewed her anger in a positive light. The work of justice was at the heart of her ministry and her life. Her work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) was the vehicle to funnel her anger against injustice.

Sister Christine’s commitment to identifying, training and transforming leaders and organizers throughout the country worked to bring millions of dollars for water and waste water to the colonias along the Texas/New Mexico Border, instrumental in developing the Alliance School strategy that impacted hundreds of schools across the country, plus the creation of nationally renowned job training programs modeled after Project QUEST in San Antonio.

Her advocacy work during the past four decades in her various roles, as National IAF Co-Director and Supervisor of organizations across the IAF Network will be greatly missed. Her organizing career began with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) in Houston where she was a founder, followed by Lead Organizer of C.O.P.S. in San Antonio and Dallas Area Interfaith.

She enjoyed seeing ordinary leaders who worked across multi faith traditions, economic lines and race to do extraordinary things in their communities. She breathed and lived the Gospel values of justice and leaves a legacy to be continued. She had an enduring faith in the values of democracy.

She is survived by her sister Sarah Howell, and all her Sisters of Divine Providence. She is also survived by her niece Angela Duhon (William), their children, Emma and Nathaniel. She was preceded in death by her parents Walter and Frances Stephens.

The Rosary and Wake were Thursday, July 25, 2019 and Mass of Resurrection on Friday, July 26, 2019.  All services were held in Sacred Heart Chapel, next to Our Lady of the Lake Convent Center in San Antonio, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, you may make a memorial contribution to the Sisters of Divine Providence, 515 S.W. 24th Street, San Antonio, TX 78207-4619.

Tribute to Sister Christine StephensRio Grande Guardian 

Stephens was an Early COPS OrganizerSan Antonio Express-News [pdf]

Christine Stephens, COPS/Metro Alliance Leader, Remembered for her Faith, Sense of JusticeRivard Report

Christine Stephens Worked to 'Help Others Advocate for Themselves,' Austin American Statesman [pdf]

Sister Christine Passes AwayRio Grande Guardian