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Central Texas Interfaith Opposes Chapter 313 Tax Subsidy to NXP

[Excerpt]

NXP Semiconductors, which is based in the Netherlands and has two fabrication plants in Austin, is seeking tax breaks from the Austin Independent School District under the state's Chapter 313 incentive program for proposed expansion. An initial presentation to the district's board Tuesday night didn't specify the amount, but previous incentives agreements from Texas school districts for similar Chapter 313 deals have been for tens of millions of dollars.

The Chapter 313 incentives program — which is named after a portion of the tax code — has been controversial. It's set to expire at the end of this year because state lawmakers declined to renew it during last year's legislative session, although deals struck before then won't be affected....

Under the Chapter 313 program, school districts are reimbursed by the state for the corporate tax breaks they agree to provide. That attribute has made Chapter 313 controversial among critics who say school districts have no reason not to grant them, and that the program siphons money from taxpayers statewide as handouts to corporations.

“There's no such thing as free money," said Doug Greco, lead organizer with Central Texas Interfaith, a group that opposes all Chapter 313 deals and has worked to help end the program.

“It's money that is being drained out of the state budget that could be going to schools," Greco said. "When you add these (deals) up, it's just a drain on the system that we can't sustain. Let's stop the gold rush here."

[Photo Credit: Mark Matson, Austin American Statesman]

Chipmaker NXP Considers Austin for $2.6 Billion Expansion, Up to 800 New JobsAustin American Statesman [pdf]


EPISO/Border Interfaith Challenges Candidates with 3 Key Questions

[Excerpts]

The El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization (EPISO) and Border Interfaith held its first in-person candidate accountability session Sunday since the pandemic.

The six El Paso County Commissioners Court candidates remaining in the May 24 primary runoff election for Precincts 2 and 4 were invited to the session where they were asked to state their position on policies such as colonias, education and economic development programs....

The incumbent for Precinct 2, David Stout, and Judy Gutiérrez, a candidate for Precinct 2, both attended the meeting.

Sergio Coronado and David Adams, are both candidates for Precinct 4, and they were in attendance.

"I thought it was a great meeting. I wish more organizations, people would take the time to inform themselves, of what their candidates are willing and wanting to do for the people... how you’re [candidates] aligning to my needs," Coronado said.

Precinct 2 & 4 Candidates Feeling Confident After Attending Community MeetingFOX News 14 [pdf]


Capital IDEA Houston Raises Wages in Houston from $7 to $24/hour

Executive Director Michelle Paul explains how Capital IDEA Houston transforms lives.  Capital IDEA Houston is a long-term job training program established by TMO.  


Cortes: How the IAF Helped California Residents in Fight for Fair Housing

[Excerpt]

"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]


AMOS' Dogged Persistence Leads to Largest Skatepark in America

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]


ABQ Interfaith: State Officials Need to Hold Schools Harmless

[Excerpt]

New Mexico – and the world – have just been through a natural disaster. Our children, families and schools are recovering slowly, but recovery will take time. Schools are just beginning to understand and evaluate what was lost during the pandemic, and are moving into recovery mode. Now is not the time to nickel-and-dime school budgets, forcing districts and charter schools to choose between laying off educators or cutting spending for the programs that will bring families back.

Albuquerque Interfaith’s 22 member churches, synagogue, schools and nonprofit organizations call on the Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to fully fund the salary increases approved for teachers and other educators.

We also call on them to allow two more transition years for schools and districts to find the students and families who left during the disaster. The pandemic hit overnight, but it is unfair to families and educators struggling with its impact to expect recovery to happen instantly and without extraordinary resources....

Oped: Governor, Lawmakers Need to Hold NM Schools HarmlessAlbuquerque Journal 


AMOS Conflict Resolution Program Highlighted in Axios

As Des Moines Public Schools shifts disciplinary policy, Axios contrasts the new discipline rules to the “Let’s Talk” conflict resolution strategy that A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS) designed and successfully implemented in Des Moines Middle Schools 8 years ago.

[Excerpts]

The rules [assigning students involved in fights to virtual learning] are likely to take more students out of classrooms and increase disciplinary disparities among students of color, says Cheryl Hayes, a juvenile justice reform advocate with A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS), a network of metro churches and community groups that runs a mediation program in the district….

Community volunteers [from AMOS] launched the Let's Talk program in three district middle schools eight years ago with one key objective: fix a system that disproportionately disciplines students of color, Hayes, who's also a coordinator for the program, tells Axios.

The district has since expanded the program to nearly all of its 12 middle schools...

Let's Talk is run by AMOS, a network of dozens of metro churches, neighborhood groups and community organizations.

The program helps students resolve conflicts peacefully, and ultimately aims to disrupt the "school-to-prison pipeline" — the link between punishments and the criminal justice system.

Inspiration for the restorative justice program came from "The New Jim Crow," a book about the U.S. legal system and how it has led to the mass incarceration of Black men, Hayes says.

What they do: Volunteer mediators, such as retired judges, go into schools to help resolve student conflicts or other disciplinary issues through discussion.

Oftentimes, mediators help students work through home-life traumas that are a factor in problems surfacing at school, Hayes says.

Program facilitators also assist with cultural awareness training among district educators to help improve teaching and disciplinary practices.

What they're saying: Hayes says organizers believe Let's Talk is a factor in why disciplinary referrals — generally those involving assaults or weapons — were down in grades 6-8 during the first four months of this school year [as reported by Axios, February 2022].

[Photo credit: Let's Talk via Axios]

Reducing Violence in Des Moines Public Schools, Axios [pdf]


AMOS Leaders Testify For Diversity Position at Ankeny IA School District

Fr._Michael_Amadeo_AMOS.png

AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) leaders in Ankeny, Iowa, organized in support of an additional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) position to serve in the Ankeny School District. AMOS pastors Fr. Michael Amadeo, Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, and Pastor Beth Wartick, Resurrection Lutheran Church, provided testimony at the Ankeny school board meeting. AMOS leaders are calling for school board decisions that will support the success of every learner in the district.

[Top photo credit: KCCI News DeMoines]

Ankeny Parents Rally in Support of Diversity HiringKCCI News Des Moines

Fr. Michael Amadeo Testimony, Facebook [video]

Pastor Beth Wartick Testimony, Facebook [video]


OneLA Enrolls 115 in Health Program

Last Sunday, One LA-IAF leaders from Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero and La Placita Church worked together to enroll over 115 low-income residents into healthcare programs including My Health LA and Med-Cal. Many of these undocumented seniors will now have access to healthcare services in Los Angeles County for the first time.

My Health LA is a program that was created with the support of One LA-IAF to allow low-income and undocumented immigrants to access health services in Los Angeles County.


CTI Partners with Huston-Tillotson for Conference in Support of Funding for Historically Black Colleges & Universities

Central Texas Interfaith (CTI) collaborated with Huston-Tillotson University for the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) conference in Texas.  In the conference, CTI organizers and leaders worked with students to tell stories and challenge state legislators to identify funding for the colleges.  

[In photos: right, Robert Ceresa, Doug Greco (CTI lead organizer) and Theodore Francis, credit Aaron E. Martinez, Austin American-Statesman; Left, students, top to bottom, Jeffrey Clemmons and Marcus Workman; Aja Fulton; Caleb Brizuela.]

Texas HBCU’s Hold Statewide Conference At Huston-Tillotson to Address Funding Inequities, Austin American-Statesman [pdf]