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[Excerpt]

Project ARRIBA has been quietly working with El Paso leaders to help hundreds of mostly Hispanic students from poor families through nursing school and drastically changing their lives since 1998. They’ve been at it so quietly they barely get noticed publicly anymore. But they have been busy.

The Hunt Institute of Global Competitiveness at the University of Texas at El Paso released a study last month that found for every dollar invested in Project ARRIBA, $28 is returned to the region. ARRIBA has added $893 million to El Paso’s economy in earnings by the program’s graduates since 1995, the report says.

The nonprofit recently received a $250,000 Bank of America grant for regional workforce development to address “a shortage of healthcare workers at a critical time.”  The El Paso region has long suffered an acute shortage of nurses, but since the novel coronavirus made its debut, the shortage has worsened. And hospitals in El Paso, like many others across America, are short on registered nurses by the hundreds.

....

El Paso businessman Woody Hunt endorsed the organization in the announcement, saying,

“Project ARRIBA has become a crucial community partner that is helping build the next generation of healthcare workers who come from and understand the unique needs of our region...."

ARRIBA sprang from a social justice organization that El Paso’s Catholic Diocese formed in 1985 known as the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization, or EPISO. It’s now called EPISO-Border Interfaith because churches of other denominations have joined.

[In photo: Roman Ortiz, Executive Director of ARRIBA.  Photo Credit: David Crowder, El Paso Inc.]

Report: ARRIBA Program That Helps Low-Income Students Through Nursing School Has $893 Million ImpactEl Paso Inc. [pdf]

 


[Excerpt]

Education advocacy groups on Tuesday filed hundreds of thousands of signatures to block Gov. Doug Ducey’s sweeping income tax cuts, the largest in state history, from going into effect and forcing a public vote on them. 

For that to actually happen, at least 118,823 of the 215,787 signatures the Invest in Arizona coalition submitted on one of the measures must be deemed valid by elections officials. If they are, Arizona voters will decide the fate of the tax cuts in November 2022.

....

[The flat tax] ..."is an affront to the voters of the state, an insult to our teachers, and it’s a direct attack on people that all of us people of faith are instructed to protect: children, the vulnerable, those who live in the margins and have suffered the most in the pandemic,” said Rev. Jeff Procter-Murphy, a member of the Valley Interfaith Project.

Procter-Murphy highlighted one of the points the Invest in Arizona coalition has made since the launch of its referendum campaigns in July: The planned tax cuts won’t just affect education, but the overall state budget. 

The utter lack of political will to invest in future generations has to stop,” 

he said.  “We see how this rushed tax code will handcuff our state in coming budget cycles, we see how it shortchanges our most vulnerable families for generations to come. We see how these expanded tax cuts will cripple our state government beyond education, health and human services and public safety will also be impacted affecting everyone. Today we are standing up for those whom our elected officials have refused to defend: the poor, the vulnerable, and our children.”

Behind him, white boxes were stacked, some with a red sticker on it with a message in white letters: “The people of Arizona gave Senate Bill 1828 an F.” Next to him were school-aged children holding white poster boards with different messages on them. Some read, “Governor, your handout to the wealthy is in time-out!” “$1 Billion to the wealthy at the expense of my classroom? Not today Governor!” and “Invest in AZ now.”

[Photo Credit: Laura Gómez, Arizona Mirror]

School Advocates Turn in Petitions to Overturn Arizona's $1 Billion Tax CutArizona Republic [pdf]

Foes of Massive Arizona Tax Cuts File to Block ThemAssociated Press [pdf]

Education Advocates File Signatures to Force Vote on Ducey’s Tax Cuts in 2022Arizona Mirror [pdf]

Petitions Turned in, Apparently Will Force Public Vote on Arizona Tax CutArizona Daily Star [pdf]

Tax Cut Likely to Go to Voters, AZ Capitol 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]


[Excerpt]

....The JobPath program was founded by the Pima County Interfaith Council in 1998. Now its own, separate nonprofit entity, the program continues to provide supplementary funds to Pima County students.

But after 23 years, the workforce development program is bolstering its operations — with the help of $1.75 million in funding from the county — to reach hundreds of more students this year.

The county allocated JobPath $1 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11 to facilitate economic recovery from the pandemic. The other $750,000 was budgeted from the county’s general fund.

Including private and public donations and $185,000 from the city of Tucson, JobPath is operating under its largest budget ever this year at $2.3 million. Last fiscal year, the program enrolled 378 students. This year, the goal is to provide assistance to 670 students while hiring more staff to get the job done.

[Photo Credit: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star]

Nonprofit JobPath to Expand its Reach with $1M in American Rescue Plan FundsArizona Daily Star [pdf]

 


[Excerpt]

Churches in Brazoria County, with its county seat being in Angleton, are helping residents still hurting from the pandemic’s financial fallout to apply for rental assistance through a recent $11.3 million federal grant, community leaders say.

The monies became available June 14 after Church and community leaders met with Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta earlier in the spring. They specifically asked him how they could help distribute the funds so it wouldn’t be sent back to the federal government as had been considered.

A contingency of three Catholic priests, The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) nonprofit and other church groups, including Grace Episcopal, met with the county judge back in March.

“We let the county judge know that we have volunteers to help with the paperwork and we have those in dire need of assistance,” said Sister Maureen O’Connell, director of the Secretariat for Social Concerns.

“Poor and vulnerable people trust the Church more. So this collaboration between government and Church groups is a wonderful opportunity to help them,” she said.

[Photo Credit: Catholic News Service]

$11.3 Million Approved for Brazoria County Residents Struggling With Rent in Pandemic, Texas Catholic Herald

 


Thousands of leaders across California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations celebrate a new deal announced by the Governor and state legislators to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and rent relief program that was set to expire June 30, 2021.

The California IAF specifically applauds State leaders for:

  • Extending the eviction ban to September 30, 2021
  • Paying 100% of overdue rent and utilities paid for landlords and tenants
  • Providing up to18 months of rental assistance for past and future rent
  • Allowing either tenants or land lords to receive funds
  • Forestalling evictions until rental assistance applications are attempted

On June 3rd, 2021, over 600 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom -- along with Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantú (whose op-ed can be read here), Episcopal Bishop Lucinda Ashby and two state legislators -- to call for an extension of the eviction moratorium and expansion of SB91 to allow more flexibility with rental assistance distribution to keep families housed.  California IAF organized hundreds of phone calls and emails to State Senators, Assembly members and the Governor asking for more time and flexibility to get funds to families who missed rent due to the pandemic.

“California IAF leaders are pleased our state legislators acted to protect our families from eviction and provide 100% of rent owed.  Our thanks go to Senators Caballero, Durazo, Laird and Weiner and Assemblymembers Chiu, Bloom, Reyes and Santiago for leading the charge on behalf of our families," said Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El, Aptos.  "We would have preferred a 6 month extension, but we will turn our focus now to local organizing meetings so our families understand their rights and how to apply for rental assistance.”

“By sharing our stories with state agency staff and legislators, our recommendations were accepted to allow for easier income verification and tenants with informal leases to be included as eligible for assistance.  By making future months of rent available, this will allow tenants like me to be able to cover my rent while I pay off the debts to my family and credit card that I took on to keep my landlord paid,” said Lourdes Rios, COPA leader in Santa Cruz County.


Joe Rubio to begin as IAF Co-Director

Dear IAF Leaders, Organizers, Allies and Friends --

After over 50 years organizing and building the West/Southwest IAF region, Ernesto Cortes Jr. will be transitioning from IAF Co-Director to a new role as IAF senior advisor. Mr. Cortes officially submitted his transition plan to our Board in January, and he and the IAF Board have carefully planned this process over the past year. 

We are also pleased to announce that Joe Rubio, long-time IAF senior organizer, will succeed Mr. Cortes as Co-Director effective July 1, 2021. Mr. Rubio, who has organized and supervised IAF projects in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado, will join Martin Trimble, IAF’s other Co-Director, who succeeded Mike Gecan in 2019. 

The IAF Board is deeply grateful for Mr. Cortes’ leadership and work to build the modern IAF in the West/Southwest, developing some of the most powerful and enduring non-partisan, broad-based citizens’ organizations in the country. We are gratified that, as a senior advisor, he will continue to offer seasoned guidance for organizer formation, leadership training, and development of the region. 

Under Mr. Cortes’s leadership, the West/SW IAF has grown to 30 member affiliates, beginning in the early 1970’s with the founding of Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) in San Antonio, which pioneered institutionally based membership organizations. Since then, West/Southwest IAF won transformative victories to bring billions of dollars in major infrastructure improvements, education finance reform, health care, immigrant rights, and workforce training, among others. These victories have dramatically changed the face of communities throughout the region. Even more importantly, these IAF organizations have identified and trained thousands of leaders who learned to enter public life and create long-term change. 

As you all know, there is only ONE Ernesto Cortes, and his contributions have been irreplaceable. We look forward to honoring and celebrating Mr. Cortes’ IAF leadership at a collective celebration sometime in the near future when we can all gather together in person. 

Sincerely,

IAF Co-Chairs
Georgianna Gleason
Bishop Douglas Miles
Bishop Joel Martinez


After 100 AMOS leaders appeared at a Broadlawns Medical Center Board Meeting to support an initiative expanding children and youth access to mental health services, Broadlawns Trustees voted 5-2 to hire two mobile crisis responders trained to work with children and adolescents.  Walnut Hills UMC leader Connie McKeen delivered testimony on behalf of AMOS in support of this momentous step forward for Polk County youth and their families.  During the hearing, one of the Trustees exclaimed, "Wow, that's a lot of people."  

20 AMOS leaders followed up in person within weeks, 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 children's crisis services a reality.

In a related Oped, leaders Lindsey Braun and Benjamin C. Bell expressed, 

Anger has been the pilot light that has kept AMOS leaders doggedly pursuing the implementation of youth mental health crisis services for over four years.

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]


[Excerpts]

When organizers set out to overturn Texas’s giveaway program for the oil and gas industry, they had a long game in mind. Over 20 years, the tax exemption program known as Chapter 313 had delivered $10 billion in tax cuts to corporations operating in Texas — with petrochemical firms being the biggest winners. This year, for the first time in a decade, the program was up for reauthorization. Organizers decided to challenge it for the first time.

At the beginning of last week, as Texas’s biennial legislative session approached its end, the aims of organizers remained modest. “We thought it would be a victory if the two-year reauthorization passed so we could organize in interim,” said Doug Greco, the lead organizer for Central Texas Interfaith, one of the organizations fighting to end the subsidy program.

At 4 a.m. last Thursday, it became clear that something unexpected was happening: The deadline for reauthorization passed. “The bill never came up,” Greco told The Intercept. Organizers stayed vigilant until the legislative session officially closed on Monday at midnight, but the reauthorization did not materialize....

“No one had really questioned this program,” said Greco, of Central Texas Interfaith.

The reauthorization was a once-in-a-decade chance to challenge it. “We knew in our guts that the program was just a blank check, but we also are very sober about the realities of the Texas legislature.”  ....an unlikely coalition...emerged from across the political spectrum — including the right-wing Texas Public Policy Foundation, the progressive Every Texan, and [Texas IAF], which does nonpartisan political work among religious groups.

....

The Texas Chapter 313 defeat is the second recent win against multibillion-dollar oil and gas industry subsidies in fossil fuel states. Last fall, organizers in Louisiana beat back a ballot initiative designed to counteract dramatic reforms to the state’s industry giveaway program. In a state that leans heavily Republican, people voted down the constitutional amendment by a landslide.

Broderick Bagert, who helped organize the Louisiana effort, sees what happened in Texas as part of a turning of the tides in a region where industry has long ruled. “In a lot of cases, it’s not that these battles have been lost — they just haven’t been fought,” he said. “What you’re seeing for the first time is the battles being fought.”

....Bagert noted that Louisiana and Texas are two of a handful of states whose industries will decide what our climate future will look like. “The question of these subsidies is being tied more and more with the question of whether these changes in energy production that we need to save the planet are going to be made in time to save the planet,” he said. “It all boils down to the price of energy. Once industries have to bear the full cost of their production, including emissions and taxes and all the other things that have been subsidized, then it’s no longer advantageous, and that’s when things start happening.”

In Blow to Big Oil, Corporate Subsidy Quietly Dies in Texas, The Intercept [pdf]

Texas Legislature Dooms Chapter 331, Which Gives Tax Breaks to Big Businesses, Business Journal [pdf]

Missed Deadline Could Doom Controversial $10B Tax-Break Program, Houston Chronicle

A Texas Law Offers Tax Breaks to Companies, but It's Renewal Isn't a Done DealTexas Tribune [pdf]

A Controversial Tax Program Promised High Paying Jobs. Instead, Its Costs Spiraled Out of ControlHouston Chronicle [pdf]

Losers and Winners from Chapter 313Central Texas Interfaith

The Unlikely Demise of Texas’ Biggest Corporate Tax Break, Texas Observer [pdf]


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