Have you heard?


California IAF Trains 
for New Drivers' Licenses

After fighting for legislation that will now allow Californians to apply for drivers' licenses, regardless of immigration status, California IAF organizations launched into the hard work of training teams of leaders to teach potential applicants in their own congregations and schools.

Leader-led training sessions have drawn upwards of 100-450 potential applicants eager to learn how the new law impacts them and to prepare for the written exam.

COPS / Metro Alliance Boosts Wages of Lowest Paid Workers

San Antonio, TX - COPS / Metro Alliance's "Living Wages & Economic Security" campaign, built off civic academies on wages and work, soon sparked a major reaction.  Alamo Colleges raised the minimum wage for full-time workers to $11.50 / hour.  Mayoral candidates Mike Villarreal and Leticia Van de Putte endorsed the living wage strategy and the Bexar County Commissioners moved to raise the wages of County workers to $13 / hour in 2015.  Leaders succeeded in closing a City economic incentive policy loophole, ensuring that all corporations receiving public subsidies pay no less than $11.47 / hour.  Leaders pledge to continue working with student and labor groups to organize public employees and ensure basic workers' protections.


VIP Wins $26.6M for Local Public Schools

Phoenix, AZ - Two hundred VIP delegates assembled after the fall election to celebrate the raising of $26.6 Million in public school dollars for Tempe Elementary and Scottsdale Unified School Districts. Leaders achieved this by passing school override measures.  

Key legislative allies in attendance vowed to to protect Medicaid expansion, re-connect public school funding to inflation and advance new legislation for Respite Care, all part of VIP's Human Development agenda.
 

Immigration

TMO, Houston Clergy: DAPA Good But 'Not Enough'

Houston, TX - The night before a planned House vote on border security that would potentially impact the executive action program initiated by the President, 50 Houston judicatory and TMO leaders held a joint press conference urging Congress to expand on the action and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Potential beneficiaries were joined by Houston-Galveston Catholic Cardinal DiNardo and religious leadership from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions.


OneLA Drivers' License Campaign in Full Gear

Los Angeles, CA - Starting with a 450 person training session organized by leaders of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic, One LA is educating and training hundreds of constituents about AB60; the new law permits all residents -- regardless of immigration status -- to apply for a California drivers' license.  To date, leaders have convened hundreds at a time, coordinated with the LAPD and led small study groups for applicants preparing for the written exam.  
 

Yuma County Interfaith Supports Recent Arrivals

Yuma, AZ - After learning that the Border Patrol deposited a group of refugee arrivals at a Walmart parking lot with nothing but the clothes on their back and an order to appear in court, Yuma County Interfaith leaders quickly attended to their immediate needs and then organized.  With the support of their Mayor, leaders persuaded the Border Patrol to take a different approach; the Border Patrol, now with notice, transports refugees to a church where congregants of several institutions offer essential, transitional support.    
 

MOC Preps NorCal Residents for New License Law

San Rafael, CA -- Over 330 Marin Organizing Committee leaders packed a church gymnasium in San Rafael for a workshop on AB60, which grants California drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2015. MOC leaders actively supported the legislation, meeting with the author Assemblymember Alejo early in the process and securing the support of Assemblymember Marc Levine.
 

COPA Trains Central Cali Parents on New Licenses

Watsonville, CA - When COPA leader Catalina Garcia announced a civic academy about the new drivers' license law at her child's school, 100 parents at Alianza gathered to learn. The parents practiced for the test and held a research action with an immigration lawyer about DAPA, while many signed up to join COPA's Immigration Strategy Team and Alianza core team.
 

DAI Battles Wage Theft with Police, Sheriff & DA

Dallas, TX - Building on their campaign for local immigration reforms, Dallas Area Interfaith leaders won commitments from Dallas Police and Dallas County Sheriff departments to work with DAI to investigate cases of wage theft; DAI leaders have already started bringing cases to law enforcement. The District Attorney's office has agreed to prosecute cases.  
 

Jobs, Wages & College Training

PCIC Gets $1.25M Space for JobPath on Nov. Ballot 

Tucson, AZ - 200 Pima County Interfaith Council leaders woke up a Bond Committee hearing to push for a $1.25 Million new home for JobPath training. The proposal for a new building was supported by the Committee 22 to 1. Pending a supportive vote by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, voters will have the chance to weigh in on the proposal this November.
 

Austin Interfaith Boosts Wages for Airport Workers

Austin, TX -  Acting on a tipoff from a member of the Airport Advisory Committee, Austin Interfaith successfully advocated for the lowest paid concessions workers at the Austin-Bergstrom airport to be paid no less than the City of Austin living wage of $11.39 /hour.  Leaders continue working with labor allies to increase the City wage standard.  
 

Spokane Alliance Wins 15% Quality Jobs Ordinance

Spokane, WA - 200 Spokane Alliance leaders swarmed City Council chambers for the final vote on 'Quality Jobs' in Spokane. They succeeded, with a 5-2 vote in favor of an Apprenticeship requirement that contractors on public works projects larger than $350K hire apprentices for at least 15% of the jobs by 2017.  Leaders backed this measure in order to support local forms of higher ed and to build pathways to careers that pay living wages 

 

COPS / Metro Helps Reinstate Alamo College Majors

San Antonio, TX -  When Alamo (Community) Colleges announced a decision to eliminate major designations from associate degrees, students fought back asserting, "we are not victims.” With the support of COPS / Metro students reached out to hundreds of other students, leveraging 595 signatures in support; college administrators soon reversed their decision. 

 


Healthy & Safe Neighborhoods
OneLA Expedites Processing of Medi-Cal Backlog

Los Angeles, CA - During a series of Health Enrollment "Check Ups" intended to determine how the state and county's health enrollment processes has worked, One LA discovered that hundreds of community members had been caught up in a mammoth backlog of California Medicaid (Medi-Cal) applications. Using the clout developed in the enrollment process, One LA partnered with the LA County Department of Public and Social Services to expedite the resolution of the backlogged cases.
 

EPISO Wins $5M for Colonia Park & Road Extension

El Paso, TX - In addition to securing half a million dollars to upgrade the Ruben Estrella Park in the Montana Vista colonia, leaders of EPISO went on to leverage $4.5 Million to begin construction of a road extension from the City of El Paso into the unincorporated community.  The road will better connect Montana Vista, currently accessible by only one road, to the City of El Paso.   
 

COPA Wins Final Vote for Salinas Soccer Complex 

Salinas, CA - After a multi-year battle to obtain safe outdoor play spaces for children, COPA leaders celebrated a City Council vote finally approving the brand new Salinas Regional Soccer Complex.  This is one of several initiatives targeting Salinas children and youth. 
 

TBO Blocks Sale of County Water for Coal Mining 

Del Rio, TX - Leaders of The Border Organization blocked the unregulated sale of county water to a coal mining operation, viewed as a possible source of pollution, by working with city council, county commissioners and business leaders to create an underground water improvement district for Val Verde.  'Dos Republicas' wanted the 'gray waters' for coal mining west of Eagle Pass; thanks to TBO the project is no longer a go. 
 

ICON Gets Commitments for Clean School Buses 

Pomona, CA - The ICON 'Clean & Green' team leveraged commitments from three board members of the Pomona Unified School District to begin to eliminate the use of diesel buses in favor of cleaner alternatives.  At a PUSD School Board meeting, leaders made the case against a district contract that excessively exposes schoolchildren to diesel particulate matter through its reliance on diesel.  
 

AMOS Fights for Criteria in Selection of Police Chief

Des Moines, IA - As the Des Moines Police Department searches for a new police chief, AMOS was invited to detail the organization's criteria in the selection process.  According to AMOS' Rev. Dr. Brigitte Black (in photo at right), the next police chief must know and be ready to implement training based on best practices in de-escalation, unconscious bias and community policing. 

TMO Confronts Houston, Pasadena Police Re: Crime

Houston, TX - In two separate actions, hundreds of TMO leaders packed church halls to confront, with their clergy, Houston Police and Pasadena Police departments.  Leaders told stories of car thefts, campus drug sales and physical assaults in their neighborhoods.  Police officials pledged to work more collaboratively.     
 

TBR Wins Temporary Bus Route Out of Food Desert

Baton Rouge, LA - At a meeting convened by Together Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Food Access Commission, TBR leaders announced a new limited-stop route to run Saturdays from ‘food deserts’ to grocery stores as a temporary measure to ensure access to healthy food.    The Capital Area Transit System CEO pledged to have the bus route up and running by June.
    

Civic Engagement & Recognition

Texas Observer Names Cortes a Top Change Maker

Austin, TX - Calling Ernesto Cortes "a genius at organizing against entrenched political power," the Texas Observer named the IAF Co-Director and West / Southwest IAF Director one of seven top Texans who have changed the state for the better.  

 

VOICE Awards (R) Former Speaker ‘Lifetime Award’

Oklahoma City, OK - At a fundraising gala put together by VOICE-OKC, leaders awarded the former Speaker of the House with a “Lifetime Civic Engagement Award” for his collaboration on the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, designed to direct taxpayer resources towards programs supporting the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders. Steel, a conservative Republican, argued to loud applause that it is "immoral for a private business [and governments] to make money off of people who commit crime.”

Clergy of 'Nevadans for the Common Good' Reflect
Las Vegas, NV - When the Las Vegas Review-Journal decided to ask clergy leaders of Nevadans for the Common Good about the words they lean on in their own lives, reporters learned that clergy "have doubts and struggles like the rest of us, even days when the world seems to be crumbling beneath their feet. Yet, there are passages, sayings, verses, that lead them back to their spiritual moorings time and time again..."

HuffPost: Catholic Social Teaching Influences IAF 

Noting that the IAF "cites Catholic Social Teaching as influential in the development of community organizing," Huffington Post contributor Julie Leininger Pycior argues that "for all the efforts that are furthering that vision, we can truly give thanks."  Austin Catholic Bishop Joe Vasquez stands with workers in photo at right. 

SA Express News: COPS Still Standing for Families

San Antonio, TX - “Andy” Sarabia, the first president of Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS), notes that even after 40 years, the organization is still a significant and powerful part of the city’s history, starting with initial “tie-up” confrontations with the city’s power structure to get it to recognize the needs of families and communities.  Click photo at right for more.


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:

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 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.

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