This newsletter covers July - September 2012.

Developing Leaders, Strengthening Community


The Interfaith Education Fund works with the West / Southwest IAF organizations to teach ordinary people how to effectively engage in the civic life of their communities in order to promote the interests of their families and neighborhoods.  Through action, reflection and mentorship, leaders learn how to build constituencies and skillfully negotiate at the local, state and national levels.

Inside:


·   Jobs
·   Housing
·   Cleaner Air
·   Schools
·   Health
·   Immigration


Video Library Now Up! 

To preserve and share the stories of our organizations, the Interfaith Education Fund launched a Youtube channel where movies like The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinksy & His Legacy and Investing in People: Project Quest can be streamed.  Other videos can be seen here

COPS/ Metro Defends Living Wage Policy

In San Antonio, COPS/Metro Alliance leaders applauded the decision of Ramen noodle producer Maruchan to withdraw its application for tax incentives.   Leaders fought the proposal because the company was asking for $8 Million in taxpayer money to subsidize minimum wage jobs, undermining the wage standard set by COPS/Metro with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County.  When Maruchan changed its mind, leaders welcomed the company to town.

TMO Defends Union Janitors

In Houston, The Metropolitan Organization united key clergy in support of janitors as they fought to protect previous wage increases and benefits; prior to the strike, workers earned $8.35 /hour or $8,684 annually.  Cardinal DiNardo, Bishop Rinehart and TMO clergy held a press conference exhorting contractors to respect union contracts and to give Houston janitors a raise.  The janitors succeeded in maintaining the contract AND securing a wage increase over four years.

OTOC Wins $500K for Demolition

OTOC leaders celebrated the decision of the Omaha City Council to invest $500,000 in new funding to demolish condemned buildings in 2013. OTOC, in partnership with Habitat For Humanity, will prioritize demolition where affordable new housing will replace blight. The local Habitat affiliate is now a dues paying member of OTOC.

COPA Secures $300K for DREAMers

With the promise of the California DREAM Act still a year away, COPA leaders launched a 2012 campaign to bring financial help to undocumented college students in their community.  $150,000 raised from businesses leveraged an additional $150,000 from UC Santa Cruz, allowing COPA and its partners to provide $300,000 in assistance in advance of the law.

Healthcare

One LA Fights for More Affordable Healthcare

One LA leaders organized a health care assembly in which they leveraged a commitment from Diane Dooley, leader of the California Health Exchange, to facilitate a meeting between insurance providers and One LA representatives.  Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of LA County Health Services, committted to review a proposal to launch a mobile enrollment center.  News article here.

DAI to Call on Texas Governor to Opt Into Medicaid

Dallas Area Interfaith has begun to lay the groundwork for a November assembly on healthcare for the uninsured, already launching training sessions on the question of "opting out" of the Medicaid expansion. Leaders will call on Governor Perry to support the expansion in order to access federal dollars intended for Texans and prevent millions from being turned away.


Work & Workforce Development

Project IOWA Graduates First Cohort Into Careers

Thirty six workforce development trainees graduated this summer from Project IOWA, a 21st century workforce development initiative established by AMOS.  86% are now established in career-track jobs with full-benefits and are earning, on average, $15 / hour.  Some advanced manufacturing graduates started at $20 / hour!

VIP Secures $81K for AZ Career Pathways in Phoenix

In partnership with the Valley of the Sun United Way, Valley Interfaith Project leaders leveraged $81,000 to support Arizona Career Pathways, the W/SWIAF workforce development strategy in the Metro Phoenix area.


COPA Wins Hiring Fight in Central California

Leaders created additional economic opportunities for workers by pushing through a "preference policy" prioritizing local bids for contracts and vending with the City of Santa Cruz and Monterey County.  This is part of COPA's regional strategy to promote hiring by municipal and school district entities from within Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey.

 


Organizing for Schools

Albuquerque Interfaith Blocks For-Profit Charters

In a fight to prevent the diversion of taxpayer funding to out-of-state for-profit charter schools, 300 Albuquerque Interfaith leaders educated the legislature's interim education committee and the state Public Education Commission about the current (lack of) resources for New Mexico public schools. Leaders’ intervention helped obtain rejection of nine for-profit out-of-state charter school proposals.

Austin Interfaith Wins Campus Vote for Autonomy

By leveraging 90% of campus support, Travis Heights Elementary School leaders, with Austin Interfaith and teachers' union Education Austin, are en route to creating the first public community-led school in Austin in which parents, teachers and adminsitrators would have the authority and the autonomy to create innovative teaching and learning strategies.  A final vote for school board approval has been set for December.

This summer, Austin Interfaith leaders also blocked alcohol sales across the street from two high schools.  More here...

NorCal IAF Helps Fairfield Redraw District Maps

In Fairfield, the California IAF helped the Fairfield-Suisun United Teachers Association (FSUTA) engage the community in the creation of new maps as the district moved from at-large school board elections to trustee districts.  The new map, created by FSUTA and IAF leaders with 50 parents and the school board, would ensure more minority representation.  


VIP Leverages Bipartisan Commitments from Legislative Candidates to Halt Cuts to Schools

In Phoenix, VIP leaders organized local actions in 6 legislative districts with 500 leaders securing commitments from both Democratic and Republican candidates to halt cuts to public education and expand Medicaid coverage in the upcoming legislative session. These accountability sessions have been the only events in this electoral cycle attended by legislative candidates of both parties in Phoenix.


Immigration

TX & AZ Affiliates Reach Thousands Re: DACA

In Houston, Dallas and Arizona, W/SWIAF organizations reached more than four thousand immigrant youth and their families to ensure that parishioners understood the opportunity and dangers of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  These trainings resulted in cadres of young adults equipped to help others prepare their applications in collaboration with supervising attorneys, Catholic Charities and chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.


VOICE Organizes Prayer Service for Reform in OK

With 300 people from diverse backgrounds gathered in Oklahoma City, African American minister Billie Collins from the Divine Wisdom Worship Center asserted, "We stand together in the face of our country's insatiable need for slave labor."  VOICE leaders committed to engaging new institutions around the need for immigration reform and to organizing legislative action teams on the subject.


Additional Updates

Inland Empire Contains Environmental Hazards

When Associated Pomona Teachers, parents and parishioners of the Pomona Valley cluster of the Inland Empire Sponsoring Committee fought a proposed waste transfer station, they succeeded in blocking the worst effects of the station, securing clean fuel requirements for trucks and significant tonnage limit reductions.

Vegas Leaders Work to Prevent Sex Trafficking

As Andrea Swanson described how her teenage daughter was preyed upon by her boyfriend turned pimp, it became clear that neither Andrea nor her daughter's teachers or school counselors had spotted any of the warning signs. But, Nevadans for the Common Good's organizing work is bringing about change. The Clark County School District recently instituted mandatory trainings for their staff to spot the warning signs and leaders are working on statewide legislation to give law enforcement tools to protect children and prosecute pimps. More here.

NCLISC Celebrates Historic Rental Agreement

The Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith Sponsoring Committee celebrated the historic passage of their "Minimal Living Standards Amendment" which now requires landlords to provide a modicum of upkeep on the property they rent out.  Leaders also leveraged commitments from council members to visit workforce development project NOVA.

EPISO Brings Texas Gas Executive to Colonias

When neighborhood parishioners of the Montana Vista colonias grew frustrated at the Texas Gas Service’s lackluster response to gas line installation requests, they enlisted the help of their priest. With their social justice ministry and other EPISO leaders, they persuaded the President of the Company, Kari French, to join leaders on a neighborhood tour. More here

Jeremiah Launches 3-Pronged GOTV Campaign

To ensure that all eligible voters reach the polls, Jeremiah Group leaders launched a citywide absentee and voter education / registration campaign working with the staff of nursing and independent living homes, high school and college campuses, and neighborhood congregations and businesses. Jeremiah trained home care staff to identify eligible voters, schools and nonprofits to conduct voter registration drives and congregations to mobilize voters in this non-partisan campaign.

Valley Interfaith Reaches Out to New Parishes

Leaders held a delegates assembly with 200 congregational representatives who publicly laid out institutional strategies for internal parish development.  Bishop Daniel E. Flores blessed the strategies and and requested that leaders deliver a similar presentation to their respective deaneries.    

Interfaith Education Fund Hosts Two Seminars

In July, the IEF hosted a seminar with renowned political journalist EJ Dionne about his latest book, Our Divided Political Heart.  Leaders and organizers from across the West / Southwest IAF network convened in Austin to discuss the book with its author and connect chapters to organizing experiences.  In August, leaders and organizers reconvened in Los Angeles for a seminar with UCLA historian Gary Nash about his books The Unknown American Revolution and Friends of Liberty.
Copyright © 2012 West / Southwest IAF, All rights reserved.


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