West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) affiliates celebrated a banner year for 2022, organizing to protect families, vulnerable communities and the environment.
WEST/SOUTHWEST IAF VISITS POPE FRANCIS
At the invitation of Pope Francis, an interfaith delegation of 20 West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation leaders made the pilgrimage to Rome for an enlivening conversation with the Holy Father. Pope Francis offered his blessing to IAF organizing and challenged leaders to "not rest on their laurels."
And rest EPISO/Border Interfaith leaders did not. Within days, they celebrated their 40th anniversary, while El Paso Matters recognized the victories and struggles of its founders.
STATE FINANCES (FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD)
Texas IAF Saved Families Over $1 Billion in Fight Against Chapter 313 Corporate Tax Subsidies
Texas IAF remained vigilant in the 11th hour, halting extravagant and dangerous corporate tax giveaways in a campaign Jon Stewart described as "very powerful.” Leaders across the state mobilized to protect families from paying the cost of Chapter 313 tax breaks to major corporations in its final year of existence. (In 2021, Texas IAF organizations led the charge to stop reauthorization of Chapter 313 subsidies in the Texas legislature).
In early January, the Texas Comptroller attempted to conceal Chapter 313 data by gutting reporting and accountability requirements in the program's final year of existence. Texas IAF leaders thwarted the Comptroller's plans, testifying by the hundreds through phone calls and letters.
By August, after the filing of an unprecedented 400+ applications, leaders raised the alarm that corporate hogs at the trough would blow a hole in the state budget.
- Austin Interfaith went to the mat over a proposal by NXP that would cost the state $100 Million over ten years. On December 15th, the AISD school board voted against a multimillion dollar tax break for NXP.
- Dallas Area Interfaith pressured the Dallas schools administration to pull a vote to approve a property tax break for Hanwha Q Cells, as Chapter 313 is set to expire at the end of December.
- Central Texas Interfaith leader Rev. Minerva Camarena-Skeith explained to Jon Stewart how Chapter 313 harms families by passing on the cost of tax breaks to homeowners and depriving 95% of Texas schools of needed monies.
- Bastrop Interfaith leaders testified before Elgin ISD to prevent $37.8 Million in subsidies for the clear-cutting of 2,100 acres of pine forest.
- Valley Interfaith and allies testified that the LNG proposal in Brownsville would abuse taxpayers, preventing $100 Million per year in unnecessary tax subsidies for oil terminal construction.
As monied interests work to resuscitate Chapter 313 legislation in the 2023 legislative cycle, Texas IAF leaders convened hundreds across the state to prepare to fight the next permutation of Chapter 313.
WORKING FOR A LIVING
Colorado, Texas IAF Boost Local Wage Floors to $20/Hr
Coloradans for the Common Good (CCG) boosted the base pay of school paraprofessionals to $20/hr in Denver Public Schools and $18/hr in Jefferson County Public Schools. To achieve this, CCG and union partners leveraged school board commitments in an accountability assembly last fall and at a rally this spring.
In Central Texas, the City of Austin voted on a budget that raised the municipal wage floor to $20/hr including contracted workers, temporary workers and those employed by corporations benefiting from City tax subsidies. Central Texas Interfaith leaders engaged workers, labor allies and elected officials, leveraging city council commitments for the wage boost over multiple nonpartisan accountability assemblies.
Arizona and Texas IAF Leverage Over $6 Million in New Funding for Long Term Job Training
- EPISO/Border Interfaith secured commitments to fund Project ARRIBA from key County Commissioners in advance of primary runoffs. In December, the El Paso County Commissioners Court awarded Project ARRIBA $1,000,000.
- Arizona Interfaith worked with state legislators to direct $5 Million from federal coronavirus relief funding to expand AZ Career Pathways in Phoenix and JobPath in Tucson.
- COPS/Metro Alliance welcomed praise by US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh for 'Ready to Work SA', for which they leveraged $200 Million in 2021 through a hard-fought ballot initiative. Leaders persisted in calling for a $20/hour wage floor for 'Ready to Work SA' graduates (photo above).
- Corridor Interfaith (a project of Central Texas Interfaith) boosted Hays County's investment into Capital IDEA by 10%, leveraging $55,000 for local job training.
Recognizing the Stranger Expands, Supports Global Synod
DAI leaders run parish ID clinics and banking workshops. [Photo Credits: Revista Catolica & Dallas Morning News]
With continued support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and Mission & Ministry Impact (MMI), more than 1,350 immigrant and nonimmigrant allies participated in training -- many helping their parishes and Catholic Dioceses fulfill the 'Synod on Synodality' launched by Pope Francis last year.
- Immigrant leaders with Dallas Area Interfaith taught others how to avoid predatory loans at St. Luke Catholic Church and made parish IDs available to fellow parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
- America Magazine detailed how Monterey Bishop Daniel E. Garcia turned to COPA to help prepare 500 leaders from 46 parishes to conduct the synod.
- National Catholic Reporter highlighted how EPISO/Border Interfaith and El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz prepared 222 ministry leaders from 39 parishes to "hear excluded voices."
- TMO's two-day 'Recognizing the Stranger' training drew 123 parish leaders from Galveston Houston, with support and participation by Bishop Dell'Oro, CRS.
- Bishop David O'Connell from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles welcomed 115 parish leaders to 'Recognizing the Stranger' training in collaboration with One LA.
- With support from Arizona Interfaith Network leaders, Proposition 308 passed in Arizona, allowing noncitizen students to receive financial aid and access in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
Together Louisiana Launches Microgrid Community Lighthouse Project in New Orleans, Captures Eye of National Press
With global warming worsening and electrical grids proving less reliable, Together New Orleans began to build a network of 85 congregations and neighborhood institutions across the city with commercial-scale solar power and back-up battery capacity. More importantly, these community lighthouses will serve as resiliency hubs during power outages and natural disasters. Wall Street Journal cast a spotlight on the launch.
Texas IAF Helps Protect Native Pine Forest, Gulf Wetlands
- Bastrop Interfaith dissuaded Elgin ISD from subsidizing a project put forth by an oil & gas hedge fund which would have resulted in the loss of 2,100 acres of native pine forest.
- Valley Interfaith and environmental allies blocked a proposal before Port Isabel ISD which would have granted millions to LNG for a new export terminal in Brownsville. Valley Interfaith's arguments around the proposal's impacts on Texas schools helped clinch the deal.
CHILDREN & SCHOOLS
California, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico Affiliates Fight for Children's Health, Safety & Education
255 Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee leaders prepare to engage officials around street safety near schools.
Across the network, IAF leaders engaged parents, teachers, school leaders and municipal officials in conversations about how to better protect children inside and outside of schools.
- Coloradans for the Common Good & union allies in Jeffco Schools began a pilot program to bring healthier food to students.
- Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee established a public relationship with local officials for street safety near schools in a 255-person assembly following the tragic death of a 3rd grade student (photo above).
- ABQ Interfaith held a press conference calling on state officials to "hold schools harmless" in post-pandemic public school finance.
- VIP and allies averted a $1 Billion school spending crisis by persuading nine Arizona legislators to temporarily raise the school spending limit.
Colorado, California IAF Create New Housing Opportunities
In the Greater Western Slope of Colorado, Mountain Voices Project leaders and allies advanced a Glenwood Springs ballot proposition for a 2.5% increase in the lodging tax to support workforce housing. After knocking on doors and educating voters, the initiative passed, resulting in $1.35 Million in new affordable housing for Glenwood Springs workers (photo at right). Also:
- One LA-IAF secured commitments from winning candidates around mental health and housing in key Mayoral, City and County races, calling for construction of permanent housing over criminalization of homelessness.
- Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) worked successfully with the Marin County Board of Supervisors to create 43 new units for permanent supportive housing.
- After a neighborhood walk confirmed the suspicions of Nevadans for the Common Good that short-term rentals were constricting housing supply, leaders are now working with Clark County officials to address the affordable housing shortage.
- COPA received recognition for playing a key role in the distribution of $6.75 million of rental assistance in Monterey County.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Arizona, Iowa and California Affiliates Innovate to Improve Community Health, Safety & Well-Being
Building on previous innovations, IAF organizations labored to improve the physical and mental well-being of people and families.
- VIP leveraged more than $5 Million to create a safety corridor in a low-income neighborhood of Phoenix, including new lighting, traffic cameras and street safety features.
- AMOS leveraged $1.8 Million to diversify and retain local mental health workers. They also gained national recognition for their middle school conflict resolution program, "Let's Talk."
- COPA leaders won $1.59 Million to extend the life of VIDA during the first Omicron wave. VIDA is a covid prevention program that COPA helped Monterey County create in 2021.
- One LA-IAF enrolled 115 low-income residents into Medi-Cal and My Health LA, a program One LA helped create to allow low-income, undocumented immigrants access to County health services (photo above).
- Common Ground crafted a proposal for police oversight in Vallejo, CA that includes a civilian police commission, inspector general, and community police review agency. It passed with a 6-1 vote.
- Leaders of Together West Michigan' marched across Grand Rapids to announce they will become "ambassadors of their lives," building power to address the struggles of families and communities.