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Austin Interfaith 
Victorious on School Construction Wages

Labor caucus leaders of Austin Interfaith, including Education Austin, fought for a historic living wage vote from Austin Independent School District board members in a close-to-midnight decision approving the use of federal Davis-Bacon wage standards for workers employed on school construction projects. After months of deliberation and negotiation, labor caucus members of Austin Interfaith testified at AISD board proceedings, backed by over 100 supporters.

VIP & Arizona Interfaith Pass Anti-Trafficking Bill with Gov. Jan Brewer

Valley Interfaith Project and the Arizona Interfaith Network celebrated the passage and signing of groundbreaking legislation which will increase penalties for sex-trafficking of minors. Both organizations were early and active supporters of HB 2454, which more than doubles the penalty for a child-prostitution conviction (from 10 years to 24 years in prison), and makes pimping a racketeering offense.

Early this year, the VIP action team organized research actions and civic academies on the issue before lobbying legislators for support. In photo, Rabbi Linder, Rev. Baker, Rev. Seaman, Carolyn Jean Jones, Canon Dugan, VIP Vice-President Dave Ryan and lead organizer Joe Rubio stand with Governor Jan Brewer and Cindy McCain at the bill signing.

Oklahoma Incumbent Overthrown;
VOICE-Friendly Candidates Advance

On June 24th Oklahoma voters punished State Superintendent primary candidates that blew off VOICE's 1,500 person accountability session, backing only those that pledged to work with VOICE leaders and end A-F grading for schools.
VOICE (including the OK Educators Association) educated voters about school testing through presentations held across the state of Oklahoma. Click photo for more.

Workforce Development

6 Texas IAF Workforce Projects Win $3M in ACE Funds

Six labor market intermediaries established by Texas IAF organizations won $3 Million in Texas Innovative ACE funding (established by the Texas IAF) to expand training to low-income adults for high-demand occupations.  $500,000 was awarded to each of the following workforce projects: 
  • VIDA in the Rio Grande Valley
  • Project Quest in San Antonio
  • Project ARRIBA in El Paso 
  • Skills-Quest in Dallas
  • Capital IDEA in Austin
  • Capital IDEA-Houston

VIP Leverages Support in $21M Vote for Colleges

In line with Valley Interfaith Project's long-term regional economic development strategy, leader Monica Dorcey urged the Maricopa County Community College District Board to support increasing local investments in the community colleges.  ”These community colleges are the best driver of economic development that we have,” said Dorcey who is also a board member of job training program AZ Career Pathways, established by VIP in partnership with the community colleges.

TMO Raises $500K MORE for Capital-IDEA Houston 

Within a month of Capital IDEA-Houston winning a $500K Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant to train more community college students for living wage careers, leaders of The Metropolitan Organization of Houston leveraged an additional $500K in local money after testifying at City Hall. At TMO's press conference, Texas State Representative John Zerwas (R) praised the program, saying he “could not find a better use of $500K than to invest in Capital IDEA-Houston.”  Representative Sylvester Turner (D) added, "we should continue to invest $5 Million in these projects."

Healthcare

One LA-IAF Fights to Cover Uninsured in LA County

When Jim Mangia, president and CEO of St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, asked the people who came with him to stand, hundreds upon hundreds of women and men rose cheering, clapping, shouting and filling the County Board of Supervisors meeting room with their presence.  Leaders continue fighting to secure $11M in sun-setting funds to cover the remaining uninsured in LA, including undocumented immigrants.   
 

COPA Defends Healthcare for Undocumented Kids

When Santa Cruz County threatened to cut a program that insures just under 1,000 undocumented children, COPA leaders swung into action, organizing a public action with County Supervisors and testifying at budget hearings to secure $300K in funding, in collaboration with United Way, First 5 and Community Foundation.  Leaders additionally secured commitments from Monterey County Supervisors to expand coverage for unauthorized residents and publicize expanded services in Spanish.
 

Family Finance 

COPS/Metro Launches Living Wage Fight in Bexar

COPS/Metro Alliance leaders & allies kicked off their Living Wage Campaign at the Bexar County Commissioners Court, asking elected officials to raise the county's minimum wage, currently set at the Federal Poverty Level. In response, Judge Wolff asked the County Manager to immediately begin a study of the wage scale and to meet with a COPS/Metro delegation within 7 days.
 

'Together Louisiana' Takes Payday Lending Fight to Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

Undeterred by the Louisiana legislature’s reluctance to pass payday lending reform this year, 'Together Louisiana' leaders turned their attention to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, dramatically taking over a CFPB hearing on mobile banking to point out the need for immediate intervention on payday lending. 

 


Immigration

500 DAI Leaders Launch Local Immigration Strategy 

On June 18th, 500 Dallas Area Interfaith leaders assembled at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church to launch DAI's immigration action team which plans to focus on passing a Water Break Ordinance in Dallas for construction workers, combat wage theft and continue fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.

Austin Interfaith Leverages 7-0 Vote Against S-Comm
At the urging of Austin Interfaith, Central Texas Bishops, Catholic Charities and immigration reform allies, Austin City Council unanimously denounced Travis County’s cooperation with "Secure Communities” which results in the disproportionate deportation of non-criminal immigrants.  The City of Austin directed the City Manager to explore alternatives to booking arrests with the County.   
 

Energy 

OTOC & Allies Stop Coal Burning in North Omaha

News about the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD)'s long-term plan for electricity generation -- to continue burning coal in North Omaha and to only maintain conservation and the use of renewable energy sources -- angered OTOC leaders.   In May, the OTOC Environmental Sustainability Team presented 4 key demands to the OPPD Board leading it to agree to stop burning coal in North Omaha, increase wind and solar energy sources to 32% of their total, and expand conservation programs. 

Valley Interfaith Examines Benzene Plume Near Church

Valley Interfaith is drawing a connection between stories of cancer-related deaths, three gas stations and a benzene plume moving through a neighborhood blocks from St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in McAllen.  Leaders are in the midst of a research campaign with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas state legislators and County Commissioners to get to the bottom of the benzene plume.  Discovery of the toxic gas plume emerged from a listening campaign about the concerns of Rio Grande Valley residents.     

WTOS Stirs Public Debate On Lubbock Power & Light
The West Texas Organizing Strategy stirred the pot in Lubbock by organizing a well-attended meeting to ensure that citizens' concerns about Lubbock Power & Light get addressed.  City Councilmember Hernandez, two candidates for Council District 3 and a representative from LP&L listened to four stories from the crowd before engaging in "open dialogue."

 


Neighborhood Fights & Victories

Sydney Alliance Wins Commuter Lift at Station

Sydney Alliance leaders celebrated Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s announcement that an elevator would be installed soon. Stroller-carrying parents, senior citizens and wheelchair using residents launched a campaign to make the Sydney public transportation system more accessible. Leaders identified an additional 761 stations that are not currently wheelchair accessible.
 

MOC Wins Commitments for More Emergency Shelter 

Building on a program they created 7 years ago to provide emergency shelter for Marin residents during winter months, 250 Marin Organizing Committee leaders succeeded in persuading both leading candidates for Marin County District 1 Supervisor to commit to finding money to expand the program to year round. Candidates Susan Adams and Damon Connolly both said YES to the crowd gathered at Congregation Rodef Sholom.
 

Working Together Jackson's 'Clean Elections' Pact Invoked as Mayoral Race Turns Muddy

When the Jackson mayoral campaign turned ugly -- with a series of negative ads paid for by an organization that does not exist on paper -- both candidates invoked the “clean elections” pact created by Working Together Jackson. This commitment was leveraged during an accountability session that garnered additional pledges on infrastructure, neighborhood renewal, workforce development and bridging long-standing racial, class and political divides in Jackson.


Delta Cluster of NCL Interfaith Zeroes In On Inequality

Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith organized the region's first bi-racial public accountability session with Mayoral candidates soon after CNN named Lake Providence the “most unequal place in America."  To address that inequality Delta cluster leaders brought workforce program NOVA into town and began working with local manufacturer Myriant to train for jobs paying at least $50K / year with benefits.  Leaders are also researching financing alternatives to help families avoid predatory payday lenders.
 

ICON Fights for Moratorium on Trash Processing

The newly renamed Inland Communities Organizing for Power (ICON) continued the fight for cleaner air in Pomona; in testimony to the City Council, ICON leader Lisa Engdahl pointed out that two significant fires started at the waste processing centers this year.  Leaders want a moratorium until the City develops an action plan. 
 

The Border Organization Fights for More Police Hires

With the Del Rio Police Department currently operating at 63% (45 sworn officers out of the 71 for which the DRPD is funded), The Border Organization took the issue to the City Council. Leader Sandra Fuentes called for additional hiring of police officers, testifying that department efficiency must be balanced with the safety of local residents.      


Civic Engagement

1,600 NCG Leaders Build from Legislative Success

1,600 'Nevadans for the Common Good' leaders from 33 dues paying institutions, plus a dozen guest institutions, assembled to leverage commitments from public officials including two congressmen, a state attorney general, county commissioner, school superintendent, state senators and state assemblymen.  The commitments were rooted in leaders' stories about trafficking, transportation, elder abuse and support for caregivers, education and immigration.
 

Archbishop Fiorenza Lauds Church's Work with TMO

In a letter to the Houston Chronicle, Catholic Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza applauded Resurrection Catholic church for saving Port Houston Elementary from closure, congratulating "the parishioners ..., its pastor, Father Chris Plant, the parents of the children, and Neighbors in Action for working with TMO to keep Port Houston open."

IAF Nuns Publicly Recognized for Mentoring Next Gen

In a "Global Sisters Report" for the National Catholic Reporter, UT Austin photojournalist Nuri Vallbona turned her lens to the Roman Catholic sisters behind innumerable successes of the West / Southwest IAF network.  At right is a photo of Sr. Christine Stephens with Austin Interfaith lead organizer Jacob Cortes and leader Koreena Malone, who was responsible for saving 173 affordable housing units in a changing neighborhood.   

Latest Video: Ernie Cortes' Introduction to Culture 

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 photo at right to view clip.  
 

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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