Latest news...
View this email in your browser

IAF Memorializes
Ed Chambers

Los Angeles, CA - Following summer national training in California, IAF Organizers held a memorial service for Edward Chambers, former director of the Industrial Areas Foundation.  Reflections on his legacy here.

Valley Interfaith's Accountability Session Yields Library & Much More

Pharr, TX - When Valley Interfaith leaders first asked the City for a library in the Las Milpas side of Pharr, they were firmly rebuffed by the Mayor. "This is not a Whataburger," he said, "use the school library!" Undeterred, leaders turned out an additional 1,000 voters in the next mayoral election, resulting in a new (and more supportive) Mayor and City Council.  Get the scoop here.

'Better Together' Beats Back Separatist Effort

Baton Rouge, LA - In response to an effort by a small minority of St. George suburbanites to break away from the rest of Baton Rouge, ‘Better Together’ leaders swung into action, successfully undermining the suburban incorporation effort by individually convincing hundreds of petition signers to withdraw their names.  See more here.

Jobs That Pay

Texas IAF Leverages $5 Million for Job Training

Austin, TX - Following up on its $5 million win from the last legislative session in 2013, Texas IAF leaders succeeded in ensuring that the Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant program (and its $5 million in funding) stayed on the Texas budget.  This means that Texas IAF workforce development programs (like Capital IDEA, Project ARRIBA, VIDA, Project QUEST, SkillsQuest and Capital IDEA-Houston) can apply for these funds, to expand the training they already offer.   

COPS / Metro Celebrates Progress on Living Wage in San Antonio & Bexar County

San Antonio, TX - Two months after COPS / Metro and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, with Commissioners Tommy Calvert and Paul Elizondo, held a joint press conference announcing that the County would do their part to increase wages (to $13 this year), San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley threw in her support for a similar wage raise for City of San Antonio workers.  The proposed budget, which includes the wage raise, will be voted on this September. 

NOVA Breaks Monroe Job Placement Record

Monroe, LA - NOVA Workforce Institute of Northeast Louisiana broke its own record in job placement, placing 17 of its graduates into living wage careers.  Since 2009, NOVA has placed over 461 adults into living wage work, with a projected annual wage impact of $7.4 million, according to the University of Louisiana's Economic Center for Business and Economic Research.  NOVA has now expanded into Tolullah and Lake Providence.   

Metro Vancouver Alliance Wins Living Wage

Vancouver, Ca - Leaders of the Metro Vancouver Alliance celebrated the passage of a living wage ordinance, committing the city to paying $20.68 per hour (the rate includes benefits) for all City workers and contracted employees.  Last fall, at MVA's accountability session, candidates from four civic parties committed to taking the lead on the issue.  Mayor George Robertson fulfilled his promise, putting forth the motion, which won by unanimous vote.   

EPISO, Border Interfaith Win Wage Theft Law

El Paso, TX - Thanks to EPISOBorder Interfaith and allies -- including the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project -- El Paso is now the second city in Texas with a wage theft ordinance enabling the City of El Paso to refuse to award contracts to employers who violated wage theft laws.  Leaders are working with the council to explore potential amendments that would allow the City to refuse to grant, or revoke, permits and licenses to wage theft violators.

One LA Launches "Breaking Barriers" Strategy

Los Angeles, CA - In response to the recent passage of Proposition 47, which allows certain non-violent felonies to be reduced to misdemeanors, One LA-IAF kicked off its "Breaking Barriers" strategy in South LA.  The effort's first pilot clinic drew 150 local residents; leaders helped those eligible under the law to prep and submit their applications to the courts, while also connecting them to other needed services.   

Nuns Combat Poverty, Impact Thousands

San Antonio, TX - A new Global Sisters Report highlighted the critical work of Srs. Pearl Ceasar and Gabriela Lohan in the creation and implementation of workforce development program Project Quest, which has graduated more than 3,700 adults out of poverty wage jobs and into living wage careers.  Says Ceasar, "Jesus was about the transformation of people and that is what we do."

Healthy Families

COPA Leverages Half Million in Healthcare Services for Undocumented 

Monterey Co., CA - Thanks to the intervention of COPA-IAF leaders, the Monterey Board of Supervisors voted to invest $500 thousand into healthcare services for undocumented residents of the Central California county.  The new pilot program will provide certain medications, lab services and radiology.  Leaders are furthermore working with the County to develop a sustainable way of funding quality healthcare that includes all residents.  

'Nevadans for the Common Good' Celebrates CARE Act, Fights Off Medicaid Privatization

Las Vegas, NV - Within days of celebrating the signing of the CARE ACT, which recognizes the importance of family caregivers by streamlining communication between families and hospitals, NCG leaders found themselves crying 'foul' against a separate measure.  Language from a dead bill aiming to privatize the provision of Medicaid services was grafted onto another bill, and approved right before the legislature adjourned.  Nevada is now considering the possibility of privatizing Medicaid, but must first conduct a fiscal impact analysis.  Leaders are now demanding transparency, and that the analysis include the fiscal impact on blind, disabled and elderly residents.  Leaders vow to be vigilant. 

One LA Enrolls 7,000+ into Health Services

Los Angeles Co., CA - As a result of a unique collaboration with the LA County Department of Health Services to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA), One LA-IAF vetted and enrolled 7,000+ county residents into health programs funded at the federal, state or local level.  Embedded in the enrollment effort was time set apart for conversations with families.  This not only facilitated the building of a constituency that went on to win an additional $6 Million for healthcare services for undocumented residents, it is it leading to other strategies around employment (see above), transit and affordable housing. 

The Border Organization Gets Hospital to "Call Off The Dogs," Stop Medical Bankruptcy 

Val Verde Co., TX - Months after TBO leaders publicly chastised the Val Verde Medical Center for using bill collectors -- "no better than henchmen" in leaders' words -- to harass families over medical billing, they convinced the Hospital to change.  The hospital will now hire social workers to help families develop payment plans based on what they earn, with the potential for medical debt forgiveness over time.

Together Baton Rouge Fights to Keep ER Open

Baton Rouge, LA - When the Baton Rouge Mid City General Hospital announced plans to close their ER, Together Baton Rouge leaders swung into action.  50 leaders gathered at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center with a letter to the CEO requesting assistance; they argue that the planned closures will result in increased death rates overall.  Leaders are also challenging the Louisiana Governor and Baton Rouge General to create a solution.   

Schools, Youth & Higher Ed

TMO Triumphs in School Rezoning Fight

Houston, TX - Lyons Elementary School parents of TMO won an 8-1 Houston Independent School District vote against proposed school boundary changes that would have dispersed low-income students away from one of the top ranked schools in the state.  Parents secured 600 parent signatures against the idea, spoke passionately at school board meetings and met with HISD board members to secure this victory.   

AMOS Recognized for School Mediation Efforts

Des Moines, IA - Bishop Julius Trimble (far left) of the Iowa United Methodist Conference awarded AMOS leaders (left to right) Dee Martin, Betty Sandy, Myra Waggenspack and Pastor Ben Bel the Beje Clark Justice Award for their mediation work in six middle schools.  Their work in schools is part of a larger criminal justice effort zeroing in on how the justice system treats youth.

Austin lnterfaith Announces Launch of New Summer Job Training Program for Teens

Austin, TX - Austin Interfaith and the Austin Independent School District (AISD) jointly announced the launch of a new high school job training program targeted at students from three local high schools: Travis, Crockett and Lanier.  The new program will be modeled off Summer Youth Employment, created by Austin Interfaith 20 years ago in collaboration with the City and County.  Senator Kirk Watson spoke in support at the press conference. 

PCIC, Pima Comm. College Launch Joint Effort

Pima Co., AZ - PCICEO leaders and Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert signed a historic 5-year Memorandum of Understanding to launch a civic engagement and student leadership development effort centered around supporting student development and engagement around their interests.  Planning for the fall has already begun.

COPS Credited For Founding Palo Alto College

San Antonio, TX - In 1974, when COPS first introduced the idea of building a community college on the West or Southside of San Antonio, leaders remember that it was a hard sell.  Leaders built support for this idea over a decade, and by 1991 it was the fastest growing college in the state.  The San Antonio Express-News covered the college's 30th anniversary and recognized COPS for their initial and essential push.     

Utility Victories

The Border Organization Wins Utility Bill Fight

Del Rio, TX - TBO leaders Castro, Hernandez and Fuentes were angered to discover that families in the colonias paid 20% more for gas and water than did city residents.  When they took the issue to the City, officials claimed that the surcharge was needed because it "cost more" to deliver those services.  Soon, however, leaders learned that utilities are cheaper to delivery in the colonias because of their newer systems.  With evidence in hand, leaders succeeded in eliminating that unjust charge. 

Austin Interfaith & Allies Stop Utility Cutoffs

Austin, TX - When Austin Energy moved to more quickly cut off electricity from families in arrears, Austin Interfaith stepped in to negotiate a better deal for those lowering their debt.  The problem began with years of billing errors that resulted in debt and collections for 46 thousand families. With almost 60% of families in active repayment, the utility targeted the remaining 40% for automatic shutoff.  AI leaders and allies negotiated that only those with over $1,000 in debt be subject to disconnect, and that trained utility reps work out payment plans without disconnecting their utilities.   


OTOC & Allies Override Gov's Veto on Licenses

Omaha, NE - Following up on an accountability session in which several Nebraska senators committed to crafting and carrying legislation making drivers licenses available to DACA recipients (LB 243), OTOC leaders and allies worked hard to get the bill out of the Transportation Committee and approved by the Unicameral Legislature.  When Gov. Ricketts vetoed the bill, OTOC and allies organized the votes to override it.  OTOC furthermore identified Sen. John McAllister as a key ally -- not just on drivers' licenses, but on Medicaid and mental health.  

Texas IAF & Allies Kill Anti-Sanctuary City Bills

Austin, TX - Leaders from Texas IAF organizations drove into Austin for the bi-annual legislative session to fight Senate bill 185, which would have outlawed sanctuary cities in Texas and threaten local efforts to build better relations between police and communities.  The intervention of Texas IAF leaders, and allies, succeeded in killing the bill.  In photo, Fr. Carlos Zuniga and Rev. John Ogletree testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security.   

Civic Engagement

Valley Interfaith Project Kicks Off Local Organizing Drive in Key Legislative Districts

Phoenix, AZ - Over 100 leaders from across Central Arizona gathered to develop local summer and fall organizing plans in key legislative districts.  After reflecting on the importance of organizing, the assembly reviewed the new Arizona State Budget and the 2015 legislative process.  VIP leaders then broke out into groups by legislative district to develop plans for maximum impact on school district override and bond measures, prison reform, workforce development, and access to quality healthcare.

DAI & Common Ground Bring CEO to the Table

Dallas, TX - When Common Ground called Dallas Area Interfaith for help, DAI leaders stepped up.  Together, they disrupted a Nationstar Mortgage shareholder meeting (held in Arlington, TX) to secure face-time with CEO Jay Bry.  Common Ground requested the assist because they are in a two-pronged fight to block the use of public funds for a private stadium (which would benefit Bry) and to secure upwards of $30 million from the mortgage servicer to prevent foreclosures.  More here.

Albuquerque Interfaith Reorganizes For More Power in 2016 

Albuquerque, NM - Albuquerque Interfaith's reorganizing effort is in full swing this summer.  Following a spring retreat that focused on creative strategies for building / rebuilding Core Organizing Teams, 55 leaders from 15 member institutions ratified a year-long road map which includes three summer Institutes for Public Life (IPL).  At the first IPL, 70 institutional leaders renewed and re-rooted themselves in the mission of broad-based organizing.  They plan to end the summer with a public action that leads into a fall house meeting campaign.  

Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith Tackles Inequality in Lake Providence

Lake Providence, LA - Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith leaders are using a multi-pronged strategy to tackle inequality in what CNN once called "the most unequal place in America."  In addition to expanding NOVA training into the area, Rev. Lee Jeter and leaders are collaborating with the non-profit Fuller Center for Housing to build affordable homes for home ownership.  Leaders have so far persuaded city officials to help them identify land for construction of new homes and are working with the Foundation of Louisiana to create alternatives to payday lending for families.     

Support Organizer Training

Invest in the training and development of West / Southwest IAF organizers by making a one-time gift (or recurring deposit) to the Interfaith Education Fund.  Click below:

Copyright © 2015 West / Southwest IAF, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp