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.

Further Inside:

·   Electricity
·   Workforce
·   Infrastructure
·   Schools
·   Safety
·   Health
·   Immigration

COPS / Metro Changes Police Practices

On an April evening, 250 parishioners from Sacred Heart in the west side of San Antonio stood in thunderous support of SAPD Chief William  McManus after he vowed to “fight crime, not chase immigrants!"...As energizing as the West side gathering was, what made it truly remarkable was its emergence from hundreds of “house meetings” organized by Sacred Heart and COPS/Metro during Lent.  This is yet another step towards changing how police relate to immigrants in Texas.  Click here for more.

1,500 Celebrate New Organization in Vegas

With music, prayer, stories and fanfare 1,500 leaders held the first-ever 'Las Vegas Valley Community Convention for the Common Good' to build on the power of institutions to make life better for Southern Nevadans.  'Nevadans for the Common Good' represents a unified effort involving Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious congregations with non-religious institutions around issues of concern to familie around Vegas including foreclosures, elder neglect, forced prostitution, and immigration.  Pastor Camille Pentsil of Zion United Methodist Church (pictured above) announced, "It is time to bring hope to a place that is quickly becoming hopeless.  Is it time?" she asked the audience.  "Yes!" shouted back the crowd.  Watch footage of the convention and see additional press.

'Working Together Jackson' Builds Power in Mississippi

With delegates from 50 institutions present, 650 leaders kicked-off 'Working Together Jackson' on June 14, 2012.  Religious congregations joined with labor groups and other non-profits in the Jackson Metro Area area including Stewpot, Spencer Perkins Center, United Auto Workers, Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliances and Zoo Area Progressive Partnership.  This follows three years of rebuilding work by the Jackson Metro Sponsoring Committee.  Press reports here.

VIP Wins $6M in Fight for Schools, Pools, Books

Earlier this year, Valley Interfaith Project leaders began pressuring Phoenix officials to reinstate services for children after noting there was no additional funding planned for after-school programs in the initial version of the city's budget proposal.  In May, in response to this pressure, officials voted to restore funding for after-school programs, pools and libraries.  More here.

El Paso Orgs Triumph with $210M for Improvements

When El Paso officials first envisioned a “quality of life” bond they slated $600 Million for stadiums, a zoo and high-art venues. EPISO and Border Interfaith leaders responded with a house meeting campaign in their institutions centered on the question: what would improve the quality of life for El Paso families and individuals? Upon hearing stories about crumbling roads, decaying parks, darkened neighborhoods and unpaved walkways...Read more here.  [Photo Credit: El Paso Times]

Together Baton Rouge Reveals...

practices behind their recent transit reform successOn Saturday April 21, 2012 citizens of Baton Rouge passed a historic election to create a dedicated revenue source for public transit.  Together Baton Rouge explains how they won.

Texas & Iowa Labor Market Intermediaries Gain Recognition

Project Quest Graduates Win Nursing Competition

Graduates of San Antonio workforce development program Project Quest won the top two places at a statewide vocational nursing contest.  The two winners “demonstrated through their achievements both their individual commitment as well as the value of this program in generating highly skilled workers from within our local community,” said Dave Marttala, Project Quest’s executive director.  Project Quest was established by Cops / Metro Alliance in 1999.

Project Iowa Fills Critical Job-Skill Mismatch

Recently launched intermediary Project Iowa works to address the jobs-skill mismatch in a state long competitive in manufacturing.  Project Iowa is furthermore turning peoples' lives around by giving unemployed and underemployed workers skills for jobs in high demand areas.  Project Iowa was established with the support of AMOS this year.

Capital IDEA Graduates Break Bonds of Poverty

The American Prospect and The Austin American Statesman prominently covered the work of Capital IDEA in supporting students as they take charge of their lives and break the cycle of poverty.  Capital IDEA, established by Austin Interfaith in 1998, recently expanded into Houston.  Thanks to a two-year grant from the George Foundation Capital IDEA-Houston is now expanding into Fort Bend County with the recruitment of 35 additional students this summer.

VIDA Secures $500,000 for Training in South Texas

The Detroit-based the Kresge Foundation, awarded the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement half a million dollars.  VIDA Executive Director Myra Garcia says the grant will "allow VIDA to expand its capacity to serve more people in the Valley; to assist in career pathways that enable ...adults to support their families, break the cycle of poverty and grow the economic base of the region." VIDA was established by Valley Interfaith for this purpose.

Utility Fights Electrify Leaders

VOICE Helps Save OK City Public $69.3 Million

When OG&E proposed a $73 Million rate increase, newly launched organization VOICE organized public hearings, in collaboration with the AARP and other entities, in defense of fixed-income families; VOICE succeeded in helping limit the increase to only $4 Million resulting in a residential rate increase of only 2% of the original proposal.  VOICE leaders say, “rate increases have become very convoluted, expensive rituals and we are proud to have helped democratize the process…we helped save the public $69.3 Million!”

Austin Interfaith Lowers Electricity Costs for Poor & Houses of Worship

At a 500-person delegate's assembly in April, Austin Interfaith leaders secured commitments from candidates to four city council seats to expand aid to poor and elderly customers and lower utility rate increases on houses of worship.  The very next day, incumbents voted to expand aid to food stamp and medical aid recipients (children and elderly) and one week later voted to increase rates on houses of worship by only 20%, rather than the original 80% per year for three years originally proposed.  Local Get Out The Vote efforts that doubled turnout in traditionally low turnout regions are suspected to have a hand in this win. 

More Organizational Updates

DAI Secures Expansion of Early Childhood & Adult Education

Dallas Area Interfaith leaders secured a commitment from Head Start to staff an expansion of the program to the Bachman area, a neighborhood with the highest concentration of children in the City. DAI is now working with foundations, private entities and the City to secure land and a building. 

Quest-Dallas celebrated the first 13 graduates of the Associates Degree program in May.  One participant is already employed as a nurse while another, a long-time addict, saw this as a last chance to turn her life around and persevered to complete the program.  She got accepted into a four year college.

Leaders also organized civic academies on the Affordable Care Act with more than 150 participants from 25 member institutions. More workshops are scheduled in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

Albuquerque Interfaith Secures $85,000 for Workforce Development

Albuquerque Interfaith obtained $85,000 in city and county appropriations for its workforce development strategy, Southwest Educational Partners for Training (SWEPT). The City's investment of $75,000 came after leaders leveraged a commitment from the Council vice-president in front of 150 AI leaders. The County provided an additional $10,000 at the initiation of AI's Workforce Strategy Team. The establishment of SWEPT (which includes a Rapid Remediation GED class to respond to the growing use of degrees to screen job applicants) is a first step in Albuquerque Interfaith's efforts to develop a long-term training strategy for jobs that provide a living wage, benefits and career path.

OTOC Triumphs in Restoring Pre-Natal Care for Women & Decreasing Immigrant Detentions

In collaboration with Nebraska Appleseed and Nebraska Catholic Conference, OTOC succeeded in restoring prenatal care for all women. A public education campaign convinced Omaha State Senators to support restoration and override the Governor’s veto. This legislation provides about $2 Million in prenatal care to an estimated 1,800 women. At an issues forum of 450 people last year, OTOC leaders secured a commitment from the Omaha Police Chief to retrain officers in how to interact with immigrants and to accept alternative proofs of identification in the absence of state issued drivers’ licenses. Thanks to ongoing collaboration, and “know your rights” training of immigrant families, the number of people held in immigration detention in Omaha has declined!

California IAF Organizations Push for ‘Trust Act’

Bay Area Organizing Committee, together with IAF organizations across the state, supported an assembly bill that would require California counties to release nonviolent offender and non-offender immigrants held in County jails for deportation; the bill has passed both houses of the legislature and now needs the Governor’s signature. This bill is intended not just to help the state save money and preserve the integrity of immigrant families, but also to send a message to Washington about the need for immigration reform. IAF organizations in Northern California worked with the Day Laborers’ Centers, Asian Law Caucus and immigrant right’s associations across the state.

AMOS Unveils Skateboard Park Plans

Building on a $50,000 planning grant from the City of Des Moines and its youth recreation strategy, AMOS unveiled a preliminary design for what is slated to be the largest skateboard park in the United States. The facility will feature three of the main structures skateboarders prefer: a deep vertical bowl, a “flow” section and a plaza with stairs and rails. With the design completed, leaders are now identifying funders to cover construction costs.
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