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In Memoriam: Kevin Courtney

We were saddened to share that former IAF organizer Kevin Courtney died on October 19, 2023 in Tucson, Arizona. He left this earth a better place.  Kevin organized with the West / Southwest IAF for more than 20 years, and he was the Lead Organizer for EPISO/ Border Interfaith (El Paso) and PCIC (Tucson, Arizona).

He was a lifelong advocate for adult education, GED, and ESL learners. His organizing career began in Tucson while assisting with Adult Basic Education students to advocate for increased program funding. During his two-stop tenure with PCIC, he was instrumental in the creation and continued funding of Job Path, which has since graduated thousands of Tucsonians into living wage jobs.

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AMOS Advances Public School Restorative Justice Programs & Hiring

In a public assembly at St. Paul AME, 140 AMOS leaders secured commitments from new DMPS Superintendent Dr. Ian Roberts and four school board candidates to work together to expand 'Let’s Talk Now' and restorative justice practices, support student mental health, and retain and diversify the Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) teaching workforce.  In the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Roberts announced that DMPS will change hiring practices for people with criminal records.

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Charice Williams, the Hiatt Middle School student engagement coordinator [and Bethel AME Church leader], spoke about the importance of having school staff who look like their students and about the barriers to achieving this goal.

Williams told those gathered about a woman... who was previously incarcerated but ultimately earned a master's degree and 30 years later has worked for both the state and county. Yet because of her criminal record, the woman was not eligible for a stipend position as part of the district's school-based mentor program Sisters 4 Success, Williams said.

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AMOS & City of Des Moines Kick Off Community Land Trust Advisory

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The city of Des Moines and A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS) are accepting applications from community stakeholders interested in sitting on the advisory committee for a proposed Community Land Trust in an effort to reserve land for permanent affordable housing....

Officials and AMOS say the land trust will be classified as a nonprofit organization with the goal to provide “a supply of sustainable housing for residents with low to moderate incomes” and strengthen, stabilize and preserve neighborhoods...

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AMOS Skatepark Gains USA Skateboarding Certification

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Lauridsen Skatepark is being certified with USA Skateboarding during a public event Sunday, Polk County and Catch Des Moines officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The designation means the facility will be a regional skateboarding hub and likely attract more Olympic-qualifying events, Laura Jass, director of sports for tourism advocacy group Catch Des Moines, tells Axios....

DSM police previously had a "three-strikes-and-you're-in-jail" policy to discourage public skateboarding....

[Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Dew Tour]

Scoop: Lauridsen Skatepark Gains CertificationAxios [pdf]


KSAT Marks COPS/Metro History in Westwood Square

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[A] new coalition of neighborhoods, churches and others formed Communities Organized for Public Service, or COPS, in 1974....

“That was the perfect storm that planted the seed that allowed COPS to flourish,” said Father Mike DeGerolami, also a leader for COPS/Metro Alliance.

...Garza said needed projects and improvements only proceeded after the community demanded that a piece of the city budget be spent on the West Side.

Struggle, Determination Mark History of Westwood SquareKSAT [pdf]


CCG Leaders Call on City Council to Increase Funding for Emergency Rental Assistance

On Monday, Oct 23rd, CCG leaders held a press conference with 5 city council members to call on council to stand united in the effort to expand rental assistance funding from the Mayor's proposed $15.5 million to the CCG proposal of just over $30 million. CCG leaders expressed their disappointment in the Mayor's proposal, describing it as "woefully inadequate." Leaders have brought this issue to the Mayor many times over the past 5 months, starting with an action of over 350 leaders back in May.

CCG will continue working with council to advance a budget amendment on this issue. See press coverage of the action herehere, and here.


Recognizing the Stranger Video Spotlights Voices of Immigrants & Allies


150 Leaders Advance Agenda for the Common Good in Jeffco Schools

On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Coloradans for the Common Good (CCG) convened a Jefferson County Public School Board Candidate Forum with over 150 leaders countywide, including district Education Support Professionals and other educators, parents, students, religious leaders, and community supporters. Wednesday's gathering was the county's largest School Board Candidate event this election season. Attendees secured commitments from candidates to work with CCG on proposals concerning the understaffing and the district generating millions of dollars, selling unhealthy snacks to students, and others. The full agenda can be seen here

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COPS/Metro Calls for Gun Reform & Involvement in 'Memorial to the Lost'

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COPS/Metro Alliance is calling for people to participate in the Memorial to the Lost, which aims to recognize all the lives lost to gun violence in Bexar County over the last five years....

Organizers hope to line the streets surrounding the Alamodome with the T-shirts ahead of and during the gun buyback, Pastor Robert Mueller of Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church told the San Antonio Report last week. They also hope it will spread to other major Texas cities, and they plan to take the shirts to the state capitol to advocate for gun control legislation.

“Almost three-quarters of voters of every persuasion support about three to four common gun safety laws that are not about taking guns away from anybody,” said Mueller, who is a member of COPS/Metro Alliance.

“It’s about elevating the responsibility of gun ownership.”

[Photo Credit: Mark Felix, AFP via Getty Images]

Faith Groups Step Up to Work on San Antonio's Gun Violence ProblemSan Antonio Report [pdf]

Guns for Groceries: San Antonio Aims to Take Weapons Off the Street in Exchange for Gift CardsSan Antonio Express News