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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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Read below for recent victories.  Click here for more extensive News Coverage.


RECENT VICTORIES & PROGRESS

March 17, 2014

13 Minutes That Could Change Your Practice – Ernesto Cortes

Industrial Areas Foundation Co-Director Ernesto Cortes, Jr. articulates and models the fundamentals of relational meetings, the core practice of broad based organizing.

This video, designed to showcase the craft of experienced organizer practitioners,  was shot during a 3-Day IAF Training in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Click on the video at right to view clip or click here.


March 13, 2014

Catholic Church Works with TMO to Stop Closure of Houston Neighborhood Schools

When the Houston Independent School District Superintendent proposed the closure of five schools to cut costs, concerned parents noted that in at least one case students from a higher performing school would be re-directed to a struggling one.  Port Houston Elementary School parents, who happened to worship at Resurrection Catholic Church, quickly organized a challenge to the closures in partnership with TMO, which their church had just joined.

Concerned TMO leaders met with HISD board members, in addition to meeting with parents and educators, to figure out how to preserve these schools.  On Thursday, March 13th, over 100 leaders and parents descended upon the HISD board meeting and recognized board president Juliet Stipeche for removing Port Houston Elementary, Nathaniel Henderson Elementary and Fleming Middle School from the closure list.

In photo:  Father Christopher Plant, pastor at Resurrection Catholic Church, congratulates Port Houston parents and leaders for their turnout and presentation at the HISD school board meeting.


February 20, 2014

Capital IDEA Celebrates 1,000th Graduate

Capital IDEA celebrated its 15th anniversary and 1,000th graduate at the Norris Conference Center in Austin.  Elizabeth Soltero, the 1,000th graduate entertained the crowd with her story of triumph — learning English then learning her third language, Technical English, before landing a job in computer security.  Elected city and county officials were in attendance, and other graduates honored — including a single father who not  only worked his way through college, but volunteered at his son’s pre-school.

Facebook AlbumCapital IDEA

West / Southwest IAF Labor Market Intermediaries


February 12, 2014

PCIC Outsmarts Opposition: Makes Pima, AZ “Immigrant Welcoming”

Even with a Board that included a Supervisor elected by the Tea Party, PCIC leaders leveraged a unanimous vote (5-0) in support of a resolution making Pima an “immigrant welcoming county.”

Bud Foster of KOLD-TV reports that half the speakers were against the resolution.  However, he notes, “the opponents were not organized like the supporters were.  Most of this crowd [w]ere from the Pima County Interfaith Council.” In photo, PCIC leaders pre-meet before filing into the boardroom.  Fr. Tom Tureman of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Rev. Randy Mayer of Good Shepherd of United Church of Christ spoke on behalf of the organization.

Over the last year, leaders of the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) crafted the resolution, taking into account the concerns of their institutional base and those of Supervisors.  This is part of a state-wide strategy to demonstrate a constituency in Arizona that supports federal immigration reform.

County Officially Adopts “Immigrant-Welcoming” Designation, Arizona Daily Star

Pima County Becomes Immigrant Welcoming Community, KOLD-TV

PCIC Photo Gallery


February 1, 2014

COPA Explodes Barriers to Healthcare Access in Monterey

Since last year’s victory in busting through political blockage to resurrect the Low Income Health Plan, Viacare, over 3,000 Monterey County residents have enrolled, doubling last year’s projections.  In addition to this, and in partnership with the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, COPA institutions reached over 2500 people through civic academies about the Affordable Care Act.  [Photo Credit: Nic Coury, Monterey County Weekly]

County Extends Health Insurance Bridge Program, Obamacare Enrollment Kicks InMonterey County Weekly


January 29, 2014

Executive Order Builds on IAF’s Living Wage Tradition

It is evident that the mood of the country is shifting, and the IAF is happy to see attention being paid at the national level to the issue of wages. The President has announced plans to sign an executive order mandating a minimum wage of $10.10 / hour for all jobs that emerge from federal contracts.

An IAF affiliate, Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD), designed and passed the nation’s first living wage ordinance in 1994, requiring that City service contract workers be paid a living wage. Affiliates across the West / Southwest IAF soon launched successful living wage campaigns of their own.

More here


January 15, 2014

Angry Jackson Citizens Vote to Tax Themselves for Infrastructure; Working Together Jackson Credited with ‘Heavy Lifting’

At a press conference less than three months before a critical city-wide vote, leaders of Working Together Jackson publicly endorsed the proposed 1% sales tax earmarked for infrastructure repairs across Jackson.  The weekend before the vote, leaders reached as many as 1,200 voters by phone.  Of those, about 1,000 pledged their support.  And on election day, some 90% of voters supported the new tax, far surpassing the most hopeful of predictions.  The Clarion Ledger credited Working Together Jackson with doing the “heavy lifting” of educating and turning out voters to pass this important initiative.

Jackson Residents Approve 1-Cent Sales Tax, Clarion-Ledger

1 Percent Sales Tax on Ballot Today, Clarion Ledger


January 7, 2014

EPISO & Border Interfaith Pass Payday Lending Reforms in El Paso

Leaders of EPISO and Border Interfaith leveraged enough City Council votes to restrict, for the first time, how much payday lenders can make off low-income families.  The new payday lending reform in El Paso allows lenders to loan no more than 20% of a borrower’s gross income.  Contracts must now be presented in the person’s dominant language and short-term loans cannot be rolled over without a 25% payment made towards the principal balance.  Such loans can be renewed no more than three times.

Bishop Mark Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso supported these efforts to protect families from compounding debt and excessive fees.  With 160 payday lending centers in El Paso, leaders are now working with the City to examine whether to restrict how many payday lenders can set up shop in low-income neighborhoods.

Lobbyists flew in from Dallas and Austin to fight this ordinance, but this did not keep the council from heeding the organized voice of families and institutions, and voting 6-1 in support.

Oped by St. Jude and EPISO leader Larry Garcia: City Should Keep Rules on Payday, Title LendersEl Paso Times [pdf]

El Paso Ordinance on Payday Lenders to Take Effect January 16El Paso Times


December 10, 2013

NCG Gets Trafficking Hotline Posted at Vegas Hubs

After a bill that would have mandated the posting of the hotline number in Nevada was killed at the eleventh hour (11:30 PM on the last day of the session) due to unrelated political squabbles, leaders of Nevadans for the Common Goodpursued a local route.  Barbara Bell of Green Valley UMC and Nancy Thompson of Grass Valley UMC organized a meeting with the County Commissioner to discuss posting the National Sex Trafficking Hotline number at important transportation hubs so that trafficking victims could see them.  The Commissioner agreed to work with NCG and changes are already in place; the McCarran International Airport has already posted the number and plans to install the posters at bus shelters are underway.  Taking the local route was an effective way to accomplish an important goal without waiting for the next legislative session in 2015. [Poster Credit: Polaris]

Stories of Human Trafficking Turn Valley Woman into ActivistLas Vegas Review Journal


December 9, 2013

Sound Alliance Helps Pass School Bond with 69.5% Vote

The Sound Alliance partnered with the Tahoma school district, parents, and other organizations to sway voters to overwhelmingly pass a school bond.  Two years ago, the vote on a smaller bond failed to receive the 60% supermajority needed to pass, and failed with 53% of voters supporting it.

This time, Alliance members – led by our building trades members living in the area – negotiated with district leaders to secure a Community Workforce agreement that creates preference for hiring local residents to do the work, for using local business for material and supplies, and that creates a full range of apprenticeship opportunities for recent local graduates. More local benefits, more support.

With that commitment, Alliance members rallied to add their numbers to an already strong citizens committee – door belling in every community neighborhood, sending special mailings and making hundreds of phone calls to their members in the district.

At the end of the day, Tahoma residents voted by an overwhelming 69.5% to support the bond; compared to the April 2011 bond vote, there was a massive increase in yes votes of 74% (from 5,862 to 10,199) and an equally strong increase of 32% in voter turnout.

More info


November 15, 2013

Sound Alliance Reaches Agreement on ICE Detainer Requests

Roberta Ray of University Unitarian Church in Seattle pins King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski300 leaders of the Sound Alliance and their allies reached an agreement with King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski to support an ordinance that would change how the County handles ICE “detainer requests”.  Under current practice, when undocumented immigrants are arrested and taken to the County Jail, ICE often sends requests to the jail to hold them at County expense until ICE can transfer them to a nearby for-profit immigrant detention center.  Under the ordinance, the County will stop honoring these requests except when an individual has been convicted of certain violent or serious crimes.

The people from a diverse mix of faith, labor, and community organizations at the assembly were excited to have an opportunity to strike a blow against our nation’s unjust immigration policy at a local level.  King County has a population of over 2 million residents and includes the City of Seattle.

In photo, Sound Alliance leader Roberta Ray of University Unitarian Church receives a positive commitment from King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski.


November 4, 2013

White House Lauds Dallas Area Interfaith Enrollment Efforts

President Obama plans to meet with Dallas Area Interfaith at Temple Emanu-El, where hundreds of institutional leaders gathered last month to launch their institutional enrollment outreach strategy.  Chair of the DAI Healthcare Committee Gwen Lummus explained to the Dallas Morning News that “this area had the highest percentage of uninsured in the whole country.  That’s one of the reasons [DAI's] been working on this.”

Rabbi David Stern e-mailed congregants of Temple Emanu-El noting that, “With our Dallas Area Interfaith partners, Temple members have advocated for Medicaid expansion and created the Durable Medical Exchange of Dallas, along with our most recent efforts to educate citizens.”

[Photo shows last month's assembly to launch DAI's healthcare enrollment strategy.]

Obama to Visit Emanu-El , Thank Healthcare Navigators and Dallas Area InterfaithDallas Morning News

Obama to Talk Healthcare in DallasPolitico

Obama to Thank Dallas NavigatorsThe Hill

Obama in Dallas on Wednesday for Fundraiser, Healthcare EventFox News


October 25, 2013

Austin Passes Historic Living Wage Ordinance

Austin Interfaith leaders celebrated the passage of a historic living wage ordinance they had fought for over the course of five years.  Institutional representatives from congregations, schools and workers associations challenged city council candidates in 2012 to craft an ordinance requiring that jobs emerging from taxpayer incentives pay at least a living wage or prevailing wage, if higher.  An economic incentive team put together language, which included an exception process, that was later adopted by a Special Committee on Economic Incentives and proposed by Councilmembers Martinez, Tovo and Morrison (and enhanced by Councilmember Riley) Thursday night.

Catholic Bishop Joe Vasquez intervened reading a statement of support for the ordinance at a 6pm rally, which was later read by an Austin Interfaith leader in Council chambers. After four hours of testimony and debate, the City of Austin passed, for the first time ever, a requirement that corporations receiving taxpayer incentives be required to pay the City established living wage of $11 per hour or prevailing wages, whichever is higher.

Council OKs Economic Incentive Rules, Austin American Statesman [pdf]

Then There’s This: A ‘Decent Wage’, Austin Chronicle

In Austin, Workers Score Big, Texas Observer

Background on Living Wage Fight in Austin, Austin Interfaith


October 2, 2013

NAIC Secures Flagstaff Resolution For Immigration Reform

Leaders of the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council succeeded in persuading the city council of Flagstaff to adopt a resolution supporting immigration reform that reflects the essential economic role immigrants play as workers, the importance of family unity and the need for a path to citizenship. Flagstaff is the only municipality in Arizona to pass a resolution with these elements.  [Photo Credit: Frank Moraga, NAZ]

Flagstaff City Council Approves Resolution Supporting Comprehensive Immigration ReformAmigos NAZ


September 17, 2013

Austin Leaders Leverage $2.38 Million for Investments in Youth & Young Adults

After founding Prime Time, an after-school program, Austin Interfaith fought for its continued funding.Austin Interfaith worked from the ground up to get its priorities included in the budget….It represents the interests of low-income families and has become a familiar presence at City Hall in recent years. Austin Interfaith leaders mobilized members to show up en masse to city budget hearings to plug these programs, meet with council members and bombard council offices with calls and emails in the days leading up to the final budget vote. The nonprofit was elated that council members agreed to spend money on all of Austin Interfaith’s priorities, totaling $2.4 million.”

[Photo Credit: Felipa Rodrigues, KUT News]

Well-Organized Groups Won the Day in Austin Budget Vote, Austin American Statesman

Austin City Council Adopts New Budget, YNN

Austin City Budget Restores $1 Million for Youth Programs, KUT News

Details on Austin Interfaith Priorities, Austin Interfaith


September 15, 2013

Del Rio Leaders Secure Funds for Domestic Violence Shelter

“A new shelter to aid victims of domestic violence is one step closer to reality.  Monday, Val Verde County Judge Laura Allen and the Commissioners Court granted a one-year funding contract for $128,846 to Quad Counties Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (QCCADA) to help begin the process of opening and operating a shelter.”

Said Simon Sotelo, Director of QCCADA:  ”We thank the community and the commissioners’ court for voting and demonstrating confidence in us. We thank the community for their trust and we thank the churches, the mayor’s office, The Border Organization and all the people and organizations that believe in us.”

County Commissioners Approve Funds for Domestic Violence ShelterDel Rio News Herald


September 11, 2013

OTOC Leverages $1 Million for Demolition & Training in Omaha

OTOC leader explains need for housing demolition in Omaha.  Lead Organizer: Joe HiggsOmaha Together One Community (OTOC) leaders applauded the decision of the Mayor and City Council to finalize $957,000 for demolition of condemned houses and $25,000 to support job training in the 2014 Budget.

OTOC advocated for increased demolitionfunding in the 2013 budget and as a result, approximately 93 structures will be demolished this year, nearly triple the number from 2012.  OTOC expects that the $957,000  in demolition funding  in the adopted budget will allow the city to demolish over one hundred dangerous, condemned buildings in 2014. “These demolitions will heighten the quality of life for neighborhoods, businesses, and nearby institutions like churches and schools like the one where I work ” said OTOC leader Karen McElroy.

Additionally, the City Council committed $25,000 to Heartland Workforce Solutions at OTOC’s request.


September 6, 2013

COPS / Metro Convenes 100 Stakeholders for ACA Planning

COPS / Metro Alliance leader Sr. Gabriela speaks to the press. Congressman Doggett and County Judge Wolff look on.With about 100,000 Bexar County residents eligible to get healthcare insurance through the exchange, leaders from COPS/Metro Alliance and University Health System brought together close to 100 community stakeholders to evaluate ACA implementation readiness and identify concerns.  The first enrollment period for the subsidized insurance runs from Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.  Leaders aim to develop a comprehensive plan to educate San Antonio area residents on the launch and impact of the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare Insurance Marketplace provision.

[Photo Credit: John Davenport, San Antonio Express News]

Confusion Over Health Insurance ExchangeNBC Channel 4 News

University Health System to Lead Affordable Care Act EducationSan Antonio Business Journal


August 29, 2013

AZ Interfaith Convenes Key Leadership for Immigration Reform

Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Senator John McCain & Rep. Raul Grijalva challenged at AZ Interfaith conference with 150 in attendance.Arizona Interfaith Network‘s ‘Making an Impact on Immigration Reform’ assembly drew 150 clergy and laity (including five denominational bishops) for lengthy, frank and bipartisan conversation with Senator John McCain and US Representative Raul Grijalva about the strategy needed to pass immigration reform this fall.  Both concluded that the next two months are critical, with serious consideration in the House to commence late September and October.  Arizona Interfaith clergy leaders are laying the groundwork for a statewide response this fall.

[In photo: Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas addresses the audience, Senator McCain and Rep. Grijalva. Photo Credit: Linda Victoria]


August 28, 2013

Border Interfaith & EPISO Leverage $1.5 Million for Training

Leaders from EPISO, Border Interfaith and Project ARRIBA explain the council vote to KTSM reporters.  Lead Organizer: Arturo Aguila.Citing evidence that the regional return on investment for Project ARRIBA‘s workforce development is $26 for every $1 invested, the City Council of El Paso voted to increase funding to $1.5 Million over five years, rather than the $1.25 Million initially recommended by city staff.  This is the single largest city investment in ARRIBA since its inception.

This funding will enable the project to support the training and placement of 600 El Pasoans into living wage careers in the border region.  Organization leaders are hopeful that this  will help leverage matching funds from the State of Texas through the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant Program.

[In photo: Leaders from EPISO, Border Interfaith and Project ARRIBA explain what happened to reporters.]

$1.5 Million Approved to Help StudentsKTSM News Channel 9

Aprueba Municipio Paseno Subsidio de $1.5 Millones para Project ArribaEl Diario


August 28, 2013

Texas IAF Reconstitutes Launchpad (Job Training) Fund to $5M

Photo of compressors and mechanical drives class at Texas State Tech in Waco“The Launchpad Fund, which gave nonprofits $10 million starting in the 2010-11 biennium to support career training programs for low-income students, will be replaced by the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education Grant program. The ACE grant program will award about $5 million under a similar model to nonprofits for the next biennium. It will be administered by Austin Community College, which will step into the comptroller’s office’s current oversight role….

Said Minerva Camarena-Skeith, a representative of Austin Interfaith, the nonprofit that helped found Capital IDEA with business community members and advocates for public funding: “It still gives these job-training programs the opportunity to apply for these $5 million, and also be able to leverage more city and local funds.”

[Photo Credit: Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune]

Job Training  Program Adjusts Amid Funding CutsTexas Tribune

Governor Signs Bill: $5 Million for Adult Career TrainingNetwork of Texas IAF Organizations


August 12, 2013

AZ Interfaith Meets with Senator John McCain, Reaffirming Support for Immigration Reform

Taking full advantage of the August recess, Arizona Interfaith leaders met with Senator John McCain for frank conversation about the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform.  Judicatory leaders and key Arizona clergy discussed with the Senator how to broaden Congressional support for reform that includes a path to citizenship.

McCain: Backing Immigration Reform Sends Right MessageArizona Republic


August 10, 2013

Austin Interfaith & Allies Victorious in Defense of Workers

In the latest segment of a long-standing battle for living wages in Central Texas, 200 supporters of construction workers, including Austin Interfaith leaders, Catholic Bishop Joe Vasquez of the Austin Diocese and Workers Defense Project, rallied on the steps of City Hall demanding that workers receive the pay promised to them by developers of White Lodging, in exchange for $3.8 million in fee waivers granted by the City.

After an hour of testimony from both sides, City Council voted unanimously to stand by its revocation of economic incentives in light of the developers’ refusal to pay the promised prevailing wages.

[Photo Credit: Alberto Martinez, Austin American Statesman]

How Austin’s Marriott Incentive Deal Fell ApartAustin American Statesman

Council Approves Revoking of Marriott IncentivesAustin American Statesman

City Council Affirms Original Agreement with Marriott Developer, ABC – KVUE

Austin American Statesman Photo Gallery


July 17, 2013

‘Quest’s Results…Extraordinary’ Says Head of Taskforce

“Trying and difficult circumstances, namely the closing of San Antonio’s Levi Strauss plant, inspired the visionary leadership that created Project Quest more than 21 years ago. Different, but equally challenging circumstances, have led to redefining that vision that will carry Quest forward stronger than ever for the next 20 or more years.

Quest, a nationally-awarded workforce development agency, was founded by COPS/Metro Alliance, leaders of the business community, the city of San Antonio, the state of Texas and the regional Private Industry Council…”

[Photo of AJ Rodriguez By William Luther, San Antonio Express-News]

New Vision for Project QuestSan Antonio Express News

Who Can Fix the “Middle-Skills” Gap?, Harvard Business Review

Printable Version


June 28, 2013

Austin Interfaith Preserves 173 Affordable Housing Units

…Koreena Malone, president of the Oak Creek Tenants Association, said a cohesive agreement was reached on the redevelopment through the partnership of the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, the tenants association and the developer.  ’I strongly believe that the redevelopment of Oak Creek Village won’t just lead us to a better community but a model for the city of Austin,’ Malone said.

The Oak Creek Village complex, located at 2324 Wilson St., has 173 units that qualify as affordable housing. According to city documents, the developer is planning to keep all of the affordable housing units in the complex and build up to 313 new market-rate units…The developer also entered into an agreement … to provide on-site, affordable housing for 35 years. Said Kurt Cadena-Mitchell, an Austin resident and leader of Austin Interfaith,… ‘It will lead to a more livable neighborhood and will lead to a more livable Austin.’”

Oak Creek Village Strikes a DealAustin Chronicle

Oak Creek Village Redevelopment Approved by Austin City CouncilCommunity Impact


June 25, 2013

AMOS Wins $200K for Project IOWA: Governor Signs Bill

Photo of AMOS leaders at Governor's Signing of $200K for Project IowaRepublican Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa signed into law a bill that will appropriate $100,000 per year for Project IOWA for the next two years.  Project IOWA is a labor market intermediary that prepares adults for dignified participation in the labor market by training for jobs that already exist, and thus also helping employers find motivated and skilled workers.  Project IOWA was established with the support of AMOS to better address the jobs -skills mismatch in the state.


June 24, 2013

Common Ground Launches with 1,500 Delegates in Vallejo, CA

“An enthusiastic crowd of about 1,500 people filled a Vallejo high school gym Sunday afternoon to welcome a new multi-county organization to the community.

Common Ground was introduced at the convention, which was attended by members of its 15 member institutions, and Napa and Solano counties and state elected officials.  The broad-based organization is made of religious and non-profit organizations from Vallejo, Benicia, Fairfield, American Canyon and Napa, who ‘have the capacity to act on the issues in our community,’ said co-chairman Todd Bertani, of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Fairfield.”

Common Ground Kicks Off to Serve CommunitiesTimes Herald (Printable Version)

Common Ground Kicks Off with Energetic ConvictionDaily Republic (Printable Version)


June 19, 2013

Central Texas Religious Leaders Call for Immigration Reform

In a prayer service and press conference organized by Austin Interfaith, Central Texas Bishops and clergy from six religious denominations “pressed Tuesday for reforms centered on keeping families together and allowing unauthorized immigrants to earn legal residency with a path to citizenship….[stating] such principles are key to what they called just and humane immigration reforms.”

Central Texas Religious Leaders: Immigration Change Must be Just, HumaneAustin American Statesman [Printable version]

Lideres de Diversas Iglesias Alzan sus Plegarias por la Reforma MigratoriaUnivision 62


June 6, 2013

Nevada Governor Signs Anti Sex Trafficking Bill into Law

Governor Brian Sandoval signed ground breaking anti-sex trafficking legislation in the presence of ‘Nevadans for the Common Good.’  Leaders had fought hard to crack down on the pimps that recruit young people into prostitution, including organizing assemblies, press conferences and legislative visits to Carson City.  Said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, “Nevadans for the Common Good have been a driving force behind this bill.”

[Photo Credit: Cathleen Allison, Las Vegas Review Journal]

Interfaith Groups, Non-Profits Valleywide Back Bill to Stop Sex TraffickingLas Vegas Review Journal (07/29)

Governor Signs Sex Trafficking Bill Aimed at PimpsLas Vegas Review Journal (06/06)


June 5, 2013

Scottsdale USD Joins VIP Call for Increased School Funding

“The Valley Interfaith Project is sparking a grass-roots movement to increase school funding statewide, and the Scottsdale Unified School District is the first to jump onboard.

Last week, the Scottsdale district governing board endorsed a resolution calling on the state Legislature ‘to fulfill its constitutional duty to fully restore the recent cuts in school funding.’

The resolution, which notes that the state has cut base funding to the district by $20 million since 2008, was drafted by a group of parents in the district who are working with Valley Interfaith Project, a non-profit group of 40 churches and other institutions that promotes civic engagement. Valley Interfaith also is active in advocating for the expansion of Medicare in Arizona, and supported a tax increase imposed by the Maricopa Community Colleges.”

Valley Interfaith Prodding Parent Groups on School FundingThe Republic


May 31, 2013

Superintendent Agrees to Expand RGV Adult Education Efforts

“On Thursday evening, King spoke to over 100 adults who are either participating in the Valley Interfaith GED program or waiting to do so. The house meeting was held at St. John the Baptist’s in San Juan. Speaking in Spanish, King praised those participating in the GED program and spoke about his vision for scaling up what Valley Interfaith has started….

….asked if the GED en Español program could be scaled up to match the obvious demand, King had no doubts.  ’I have no doubt at all. We will find a way to do it.’”

[Photo Credit: Rio Grande Guardian]

King Plans to Scale Up Valley Interfaith EffortsRio Grande Guardian


May 22, 2013

VIP Secures Backing for Maricopa Community Colleges

Valley Interfaith Project, a community organization composed of religious and civic leaders, spoke in support of the tax hike, telling the board members that the increase was small but would yield a good return on investment.  ’The state has placed our educational system in a vise grip and now only provides 1 percent of the funding for the district,’ Monica Dorcey said.

‘The Legislature has simply passed the buck on its responsibility to be good stewards of our economic future.  They placed an added burden on our local government to make up the difference,’ said Dorcey, who also is a member of the board of Arizona Career Pathways, a non-profit job-training program that has a partnership with the community colleges.”

MCCCD Approves Tax HikeArizona Republic

Printable Version


May 6, 2013

800 VIP Leaders Renew Call for Expanded Medicaid in Arizona with Governor Jan Brewer & Key Legislators

“Meeting city, state, faith and education leaders on Thursday, [Republican] Sen. John McComish, of District 18, voiced his continued support for Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to expand Medicaid in the state at a panel hosted by the Valley Interfaith Project (VIP)…..McComish and [Republican State] Rep. Heather Carter, of District 15, pushed the expansion that would give Medicaid to about 300,000 low-income Arizona residents.

VIP’s crowd included nearly 800 people from surrounding churches, school districts and organizations.”  [Photo by David Jolkovski, Ahwatukee Foothills News]

McComish Voices Support for Governor’s Medicaid ExpansionAhwatukee Foothills News (05/06)

Refusing Medicaid Expansion Means Abandoning Neighbors, Arizona Central (05/19)


April 30, 2013

‘Together Louisiana’ Leaders Keep Pressure on Gov. Jindal

“With a call for a “pragmatic” approach to the expansion of Medicaid healthcare for the poor, the leaders of the Together Louisiana alliance of congregations has challenged Governor Bobby Jindal and lawmakers to work with the federal government on expanding health coverage for the poor.  ”We don’t need an ideological discussion about Obamacare,” the Rev. Melvin Rushing of Baton Rouge told a State Capitol rally.  ”We need our state’s technocrats to sit down with the national Medicaid technocrats and work through this issue as the practical, pragmatic matter it is.”

“Our Views: Poor need coverage,” The Advocate (4/29)

“Medicaid expansion wins support,” The Advocate (4/24)

“Editorial: If Gov. Jindal won’t accept Medicaid expansion, lawmakers should,” The Times Picayune (4/24)

“Advocates rally for Medicaid expansion as new analysis shows it could be fiscally beneficial for state,” The Times Picayune (4/23)


April 24, 2013

Project IOWA Celebrates One Year of Success

“Douglas Wells’ path to a well-paying job with potential for advancement had a few bumps, but the 27-year-old credits perseverance and a publicly and privately funded training and mentoring program with helping him reach his goal.

Wells completed a welding course and has been working at the Bridgestone Firestone tire plant in Des Moines. For now he is driving a forklift, but he is sure there are opportunities for advancement. More important, this father of two young girls will be able to set an example….  [In photo: Douglas Wells speaks at the Iowa Capitol.  Photo Credit: Rodney White, Des Moines Register]

Wells is one of 57 participants in the Project Iowa program who have completed job training…The initiative was formed last year by AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy).”

Year of Success in Training ProgramDes Moines Register


April 24, 2013

TMO Press Conference Responds to Immigration Bill

El Empresario Stan Marek“[Gabriela] Nieto spoke Tuesday during a news conference called by The Metropolitan Organizationat which Houston faith and business leaders responded to a new plan for comprehensive immigration reform.  The legislation, unveiled last week by a bipartisan group of senators, is the first major overhaul of U.S. immigration policy since 1986.

Speakers including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel said the highest priority should be creating a process for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship.”

[Photo: Business leader Stan Marek, flanked by Catholic Bishop DiNardo and UMC Bishop Janice Riggle Hui.  Photo Credit: Olivia Tallet, La Voz]

Faith, Business Leaders Encouraged by Immigration BillHouston Chronicle

Empresario de Houston Dice Que Obama Debería Imponer La Reforma Si el Congreso no lo Aprueba, La Voz de Houston

Clergy Urge Support for Immigration ReformJewish Herald Voice


April 11, 2013

Valley Interfaith Brings Spanish GED Prep to Hidalgo County

In civic academies on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Valley Interfaith leaders learned that there were almost no Spanish GED classes or testing sites in the County of Hidalgo and a lack of classes to prepare. This led some to travel hours to Brownsville – the only available site in the Rio Grande Valley.

Leaders worked with the McAllen Independent School System and St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church to expand Spanish language GED preparation classes, and with South Texas College to begin Spanish GED testing in Hidalgo County. Today, more than 60 students are enrolled.  [Photo Credit: Steve Taylor, Rio Grande Guardian]

Valley Interfaith Plans to Expand GED En Espanol Program, Rio Grande Guardian


April 8, 2013

Project IOWA Gives Workers Stability and Dignity

“Jalissa Daniels wrote dark poetry as an early adolescent…She became pregnant at 15, graduated from Scavo Alternative High School and worked at convenient stores and temp agencies. Even though these jobs helped pay the bills, they were not fulfilling…Finding full-time work with benefits was looking grim…

The[n] Rev. Diane McClanahan, one of the pastors at Trinity United Methodist Church, encouraged Jalissa to consider a new program called Project IOWA, which was initiated by AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy)….”

This ‘Village’ is Helping the UnderemployedDes Moines Register


March 8, 2013

Arizona Bishops & Clergy Strategize on Immigration Reform

75 bishops and clergy from Lutheran, Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist faiths strategized on the future of immigration reform at an ecumenical gathering organized by the Arizona Interfaith Network.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas, of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson told the group that “today is a day to develop…strategies” and challenged clergy, asking “what can we do to mobilize our congregations?”  Episcopal Bishop Kirk Smith asserted that “the current system is broken, cruel and an affront to God and man.”

[Photo Credit: Nicole Krug, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona]

Interfaith Immigration Gathering Held, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona


March 6, 2013

NTO Rallies at Capitol Again For Texas Medicaid Expansion

“Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday on the front steps of the Capitol to rally in support of Medicaid expansion….Willie Bennett, along with 45 other members of theDallas Area Interfaith, turned up for the march that snaked down Congress Avenue and up to the Capitol.  Bennett said more than 3,000 individuals and 38 institutions had signed up in favor of Medicaid expansion.”

“Anderson and her 66-year-old mother, Martha Anderson, were among about 60 Tarrant County residents who gathered at the St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Fort Worth … for the 200-mile bus trip to Austin. The trip was organized by the Allied Communities of Tarrant (ACT)” in coordination with the Network of Texas Organizations, including Austin Interfaith, The Border Organization, EPISO, Border InterfaithTMO, WIN, WTOS, Valley Interfaith and COPS / Metro Alliance.

Protesters March on Texas Capitol for Expanded MedicaidStar Telegram

Hundreds March to Capitol to Show Support for Medicaid ExpansionDallas Morning News


February 27, 2013

PCIC Wins In-State Tuition for DACA Students in Pima County

150 PCIC leaders, DREAMers and their parents filled the Board Room at Pima Community College and cheered when the Board of Governors voted 4-1 in favor of in-state tuition discounts for DACA students.  Currently, hundreds of undocumented local students pay five times the in-state rate and are not eligible for financial aid.

PCIC leader Melanie Nelson spoke of the six Deferred Action Civic Academies held at her church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, last fall. “These students have lawful status now, but they can’t afford the high tuition. Before DACA we had several attempted suicides in our parish.  Now they need an pathway to an education and a future,” she said. Before the vote, Jimmy Ojeda, a homeowner and parent, from St. John’s, and Monica Leon, a U of A graduate, from Casa Maria Catholic Worker shared their own immigration stories. The group’s goal is now to get the University of Arizona system to follow Pima’s lead.


February 27, 2013

COPS / Metro Wins Bexar County Support for Medicaid

“On a bipartisan vote, Bexar County commissioners Tuesday urged Texas lawmakers to expand the state’s Medicaid program and take advantage of federal matching funds under the Affordable Care Act.2014 to 2017, expansion will bring $27.2 billion in federal revenue to Texas for just over $3 billion in state investments,” said [Republican]County Judge Nelson Wolff….

“Medicaid expansion is a must,” COPS member Gloria Mora said. “As people of faith and as Christians, we find it morally repugnant that the state leadership would deny health care to a large segment of our population,” she said.”

Bexar Commissioners Urge Medicaid ExpansionSan Antonio Express News


February 26, 2013

Valley Interfaith Leverages Hidalgo County Support for Medicaid

“…Valley Interfaith members were at Hidalgo County Commissioners Court to urge commissioners to pass a resolution in support of Adult Medicaid.  In a news release, Valley Interfaith said it urges other counties in the Valley to stand also in support. The Rev. Javier Leyva, a Valley Interfaith leader, pointed out that expanding Medicaid would bring over $400 million in Medicaid funds to Hidalgo County and nearly $670 million to the Valley overall.”

Hidalgo County Passes Resolution in Support of Medicaid ExpansionRio Grande Guardian


February 20, 2013

Network of Texas Organizations Fights for Medicaid Expansion

“The Network of Texas Organizations convened 200 leaders from various faith traditions on the steps of the Capitol to call on Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature to expand Medicaid.

Religious leaders and clergy from throughout the state gathered at the north entrance the Capitol on Wednesday at noon to rally in support of Medicaid expansion…”

[Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune]

Interfaith Groups Rally for Medicaid ExpansionTexas Tribune

Faith Leaders Rally at Capitol for MedicaidKXAN

Faith Leaders Rally for Bipartisan Support for Medicaid Expansion, Texas Observer

Death, Taxes, God and MedicaidSan Antonio Express-News

County Judges, Clergy Rally in Favor of Expanding MedicaidDallas Morning News

Rally at Capitol Urges Texas to Spend More on MedicaidStar Telegram

Interfaith Groups Rally for Medicaid ExpansionThe Monitor

El Paso Group Joins Others to Urge Expansion of MedicaidEl Paso Times


February 20, 2013

Austin Interfaith Leverages County Support for Medicaid

“At the urging of Austin Interfaith, the Travis County Commissioners Court this week passed a resolution supporting expansion. Dallas County has approved a similar resolution, and Bexar County is expected to do the same next week….

County and legislative leaders joined members of religious organizations, including Austin Interfaith, in a rally outside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to urge Texas lawmakers to expand the number of low-income people covered by Medicaid.”

Religious Leaders, Politicians, Rally for Medicaid ExpansionAustin American Statesman


February 19, 2013

One LA Wins Fight to Enroll Thousands in Healthcare Services

One LA leaders fought for and won “Community Partner Status” with the LA County Department of Health Services, granting it direct access to the county enrollment system.  Now 50 leaders will train to become ‘Certified Application Assisters’, with the power to directly enroll people through the County computer system at 25 One LA mobile enrollment events at member institutions.  They will be supported 30 leaders at each institution trained as ‘healthcare experts,’ who will educate and recruit people to attend their institiution’s events. The goal is to enroll thousands of eligible LA residents.


February 13, 2013

Northern Louisiana Interfaith Leverages $208K for NOVA

The Delta Regional Authority awarded workforce development project NOVA $208 thousand to expand training opportunities further into the Delta region.  But before doing so, the proposal had to win the approval of Republican Congressman Rodney Alexander and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.  Northern Louisiana Interfaith successful urged both officials to sign off, which will allow NOVA to pull more people out of working poverty.

DRA Funding Benefits NOVAThe News Star

More here on how NOVA transforms bad jobs into good jobs.


January 29, 2013

Nebraska Leaders Improve Police & ICE Treatment of Immigrants

After leaders of OTOC’s Immigration Action Team challenged Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer to ensure that immigrants stopped by OPD officers receive fair treatment, OPD issued an official bulletin to all officers informing them that the matricula consular could be accepted as valid identification.  (The matricula consular is an identification card issued by consulates verifying the place of residence for foreign nationals.)  Photo shows leaders in early encounter with Chief Schmaderer.

OTOC leaders also met with the head of Douglas County Corrections and the regional director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about ways to reduce the number of immigrants with small children being detained in Douglas County jails while they await deportation hearings.  ICE has now implemented a new release program which allows up to 100 persons who would otherwise be detained to return home to their families while they await their hearings.


January 16, 2013

Austin Interfaith Leverages Unanimous Vote for In-District Charter School

“School board members have lauded the process that Travis Heights used to garner support for the transformation, which they approved last month.  Unlike the district’s failed partnership with [another charter school]… the move to turn Travis Heights into a charter school had the enthusiastic backing of the school’s parents and teachers, joined byAustin Interfaith and Education Austin.

‘It’s a real democratic process that empowers the parents, empowers the teachers, empowers the students,’ said Britt Adams, a special education teacher at the school.”

[Photo Credit: Laura Skelding, Austin American Statesman]

Travis Heights Will Be Austin District’s First Home-Grown Charter SchoolAustin American Statesman

New Charter Gets School Board BlessingKXAN (12/18)

Austin School Trustees Vote to End IDEA Charter PartnershipAustin American Statesman (12/18)

Additional background here


January 16, 2013

COPA Celebrates Low Income Healthcare Victory

When COPA leaders discovered a lapsed initiative to provide healthcare to low-income adults in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, leaders organized an assembly with seven out of the ten county supervisors and leveraged commitments to bust through the political blockage to resurrect ViaCare.  Congregational and labor leaders of COPA rejoiced when the Monterey Board of Supervisors voted to implement the Low Income Health Care Plan (LIHP) and to extend healthcare coverage to as many as 1,500 additional adults.  Said St. Mary of the Nativity Catholic Church and SEIU United Long Term Care Worker leader Mario Torres: “Now sooner, rather than later, I will have a doctor’s appointment and that feels great.”

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Approve…Pilot Program, SEIU-ULTCW


See more extensive Media Coverage here.