Wed Apr 3, 2019
West/Southwest IAF: Good News Update (Spring 2019) -West/Southwest IAF

Tue Feb 5, 2019
NYT: School Board Says No to Big Oil, and Alarms Sound in Louisiana -New York Yimes

It was a squabble over $2.9 million in property-tax breaks — small change for Exxon Mobil, a company that measures its earnings by the billions.
But when the East Baton Rouge Parish school board rejected the energy giant’s rather routine request last month, the “no” vote went off like a bomb in a state where obeisance to the oil, gas and chemical industries is the norm.
Together Baton Rouge and its sister organization, Together Louisiana, argue that the industrial tax breaks starve local schools and governments of badly needed funds and leave them unable to lift a state mired toward the bottom of national rankings on education, crime and infrastructure. In Baton Rouge, one in four residents lives in poverty.
Their message has found an audience: Together Louisiana’s YouTube video about the exemptions, posted in November and titled “Why Louisiana Stays Poor,” has been viewed more than 600,000 times.

Sat Jan 19, 2019
Together Baton Rouge Wins $2.9M from Exxon Mobil for Schools -The Advocate & More

After almost four years of political battle, leaders of Together Baton Rouge secured a momentous victory: the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted down Exxon Mobil’s request to receive a tax exemption through the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, resulting in $2.9 Million for public schools....

Fri Jan 18, 2019
Study Finds Immigration Crackdowns Cause Detrimental Prenatal Well-Being, Low Birthweight -America Magazine

A recent Stanford University study indicates that crackdowns on unauthorized immigration may interfere with the development of unborn children.

The study found Latina immigrant women in Arizona who were pregnant during the contentious debate over S.B. 1070 and gave birth in the six-month period between July and December 2010 had babies with lower birthweight compared with those in prior years. Average birth weights did not decrease among U.S.-born white, black or Latina women during the same time....

Joe Rubio, senior organizer for the West/Southwest Industrial Area Foundation, said “nativist” legislation, like S.B. 1070 “was meant to scare people out of the state. The intention was to turn us against each other, especially the ‘show me your papers’ dimension of the bill.”

Immigration enforcement laws of that time sowed mistrust and suspicion in communities, Mr. Rubio said, noting that a number of parishes in Phoenix saw Mass attendance and community participation plummet. Children would call their homes after school to see if it was “safe,” he said, explaining it was considered dangerous if police officers were in the neighborhood.

“Who’s going to report crimes? Mean-spirited legislation affects not only this generation but generations to come,” he said. “You are hurting citizen children, future workers and, from a larger perspective, you’re damaging the body of Christ. We pursue this type of fear-based legislation to our peril.”

Mon Nov 26, 2018
Lake County United Wins an Additional 100 Inpatient Beds for Behavioral Hospital in Waukegan -Lake County United

Lake County United successfully pressed for approval to add 100 more inpatient beds at the new behavioral hospital in Waukegan, IL. Lake Behavioral Hospital will now have 146 beds and is committed to serving adults and adolescents regardless of their ability to pay. 

Wed Nov 21, 2018
BUILD Wins Commitment from Baltimore's Mayor to Recognize Parish IDs Issued to Immigrants -BUILD

Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) won a commitment from Baltimore Mayor Pugh that city agencies would recognize parish identification cards issued to immigrant city residents. The identification cards, which are meant to address hesitations by immigrants to report crimes to police, fearing a lack of ID would lead to deportation, are issued by Catholic congregations with the full support of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. It will be a form of non-government identification available to members of the congregations. The identification card will be recognized by Baltimore City law enforcement and other city agencies as an alternative form of identification in specified situations. The Mayor committed to training police officers on the Parish ID within two weeks.

Mon Nov 19, 2018
AIM Celebrates Ribbon Cutting for Historic African American Community Center after Decades-Long Fight for Justice -AIM

AIM celebrated the ribbon cutting for Good Hope Community Center, the last of four community centers in historically African American neighborhoods in Montgomery County, marking the end of rebuilding and renovation of the community centers in a fight for change that lasted more than a decade. For most of these neighborhoods' histories, they've been overlooked and neglected, unable to get even basic repairs in the community centers, while beautiful, new centers were being built in other parts of the county. AIM has held a series of actions at the centers since 2007, inviting council members to see for themselves the terrible disrepair that had been allowed to fester.

Mon Nov 19, 2018
PATH's Non-Partisan GOTV Mobilizes More than 2,500 Voters, Wins Commitments on Immigration, Transportation and Education from County Executive and School Superintendent -PATH

Over 500 PATH leaders came out for an October non-partisan GOTV Assembly in Howard County, Maryland.  PATH Co-Chairs won commitments from the next County Executive and the HCPSS School Superintendent to continue joint work on immigration inclusion, transportation improvement, and public education equity.  
PATH GOTV was a major part of large voter turnout in Howard County, the highest of any jurisdiction in Maryland, with leaders organizing more than 2,500 voters in member institutions, for the June Primary and November General Election. The effort mobilized many to choose early voting, a factor in the upset victory of candidate Ball for County Executive, over the incumbent Kittleman, who was predicted to win a second term.

Mon Nov 19, 2018
ReBUILD Metro Secures $1.5 Million from Weinberg Foundation to Revitalize Johnston Square Neighborhood -BUILD

ReBUILD Metro, a third-party developer that works with Metro IAF affiliate, BUILD, to revitalize neighborhoods, secured $1.5 million from the Weinberg Foundation to fill the gap of a 60 unit LIHTC building in Johnston Square in Baltimore. Fourteen homes have already been rehabbed, and this building is the turn-key development needed to truly launch BUILD's rebuilding work in Johnston Square, which will be the 4th neighborhood BUILD is rebuilding in East Baltimore.

Mon Nov 19, 2018
New IAF Organization Launched In Anne Arundel County, MD: 1,100+ Leaders Unite, Pledge to Make the County a Better Place -ACT

 After two years of listening to communities, congregations and individuals, including 2,800 one-on-one conversations, over 1,100 leaders from Anne Arundel County packed First Christian Community Church for an inaugural action to commit to working together to make Anne Arundel a better place for everyone to live.

Key issues identified as priorities for the newest IAF organization, Anne Arundel Connecting Together (ACT) were: Affordable Housing, Safe and Effective Schools, Efficient and Useful Public Transportation, Freedom from Addiction and Mental Health Challenges, Just and Fair Immigration Policies and Gun Violence Reduction and Safety in the Community. ACT asked candidates for county council, state’s attorney and county executive in attendance if they would pledge to work with and meet regularly with ACT, and all but one agreed.

Mon Nov 19, 2018
Jersey City Together Wins Final Authorization for $170 million in Bonding for 95-Acre Bayfront Site -Jersey City Together

A year and a half ago, Jersey City Together launched a campaign to change the way a 95-acre site would be developed so that it would include real affordable housing. On October 10th, the Jersey City Council approved the final ordinance to authorize $170 million worth of municipal bonds for the site's purchase and for investing in its infrastructure. The city now hopes 35+ percent of the site's units can be affordable (potentially 2,800 units). The City and State of New Jersey required Honeywell to clean up the site after organizing pressure and a lawsuit by a previous IAF-affiliate in Jersey City called the Interfaith Community Organization. 

Fri Nov 16, 2018
OTOC Voter Education and Get Out the Vote Initiative Rallies Nebraska Voters to Expand Medicaid -OTOC

With access to health care on the line for 90,000 Nebraskans, OTOC leaders worked hard to expand Medicaid for those with no health insurance.  After efforts to secure enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Nebraska Unicameral proved unsuccessful, OTOC partnered with allies in 2018 to secure a place on the November Midterm ballot for 'Initiative 427' as a way to secure Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska.  On November 6, 2018, the effort succeeded.

Over the course of the year, OTOC leaders mobilized 50 individuals who secured 3,500 signatures in the effort to get the initiative on the ballot.  OTOC organized 17 civic academies in Omaha congregations and public libraries to help build an educated constituency and, in efforts to educate the public, published seven Opeds, including four in the Omaha World Herald.  In the final days leading to the vote, the World Herald selected OTOC to counter final arguments by a team including the former Governor, Attorney General and a member of Koch Brothers Nebraska.  

Leaders testified at State hearings, leveraged commitments from winning Congressional candidates to protect Medicaid Expansion if Initiative 427 were to pass, and organized a fall accountability assembly in which all seven Unicameral candidates committed to implementing Medicaid expansion.    

Initiative 427 won with a margin of 41,594 votes statewide.  Counties where OTOC focused -- Douglas and Sarpy -- were critical to overcoming vote deficits elsewhere.  In Douglas County, alone, 111,630 residents voted FOR Initiative 427, approximately one third of the statewide total, and far exceeding the margin of victory.

OTOC leaders are now turning their attention to implementation of Medicaid expansion, to ensure it reaches those who most need it.  

Imperative That Nebraska Pass Initiative 427 and Expand Medicaid, Omaha World Herald

Medicaid for Public Health, Omaha World Herald

Complete report of OTOC Action, OTOC

Thu Nov 15, 2018
VOICE Leverages Pledges on Criminal Justice Reform from Virginia Governor and Attorney General -Metro IAF

October 21st: In Virginia, nearly 1,400 VOICE leaders turned out to a non-partisan action where Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring committed on issues of criminal justice reform, mental health resources in schools, affordable housing and immigration. VOICE won commitments from both Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring to lead with VOICE on reforming the Virginia cash bail system, and Herring released a legal memorandum outlining practical and constitutional concerns with the current system. The Governor also committed to convene a meeting in December with key Republicans and Democrats to strategize on how to decrease mass incarceration, and committed to ending the suspension of drivers licenses for people with unpaid court debt.

Northam and Herring both attended VOICE's non-partisan candidate forum in 2017 and returned this year for VOICE's 2018 accountability forum. The Governor showed recognition to VOICE's work on increasing the felony threshold level in the last year from $200-$500 dollars and winning a dedicated funding package for WMATA metro transportation saying, "That was because of you."

Thu Nov 15, 2018
GBIO Celebrates 20th Anniversary, Makes Strides on Local, State, and Federal Issues -Metro IAF

October 22nd: In Massachusetts, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization celebrated its 20th Anniversary by acting powerfully with 1,348 GBIO leaders in a non-partisan assembly. GBIO was recognized and made public agreements on an array of state, local, and even federal issues - affordable homeownership, healthcare, immigration, criminal justice reform, and local park investment-- from candidates and city officials.

Both District Attorney candidates for Suffolk County, Rachael Rollins-Democrat and  Mike Maloney-Independent reiterated their support for GBIO’s Criminal Justice Reform priorities: not charging mandatory minimums for drug sentences, not requesting bail, and improving data collection/transparency.  

Attorney General Maura Healey committed to meet with GBIO and Metro IAF clergy in the next 6 weeks regarding a campaign with States Attorneys General and Metro IAF to sue the federal government for the separation of immigrant families. Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez committed, without hesitation, $50M dollars for Homeownership programs for low-moderate income households to close the racial homeownership gap, if elected.

Thu Nov 15, 2018
Conect Engages CT Gubernatorial and Attorney General Candidates on Gun Violence, Immigration, Health Care, and Criminal Justice Reform -Metro IAF

 October 22nd: In Connecticut, more than 750 CONECT members turned out for the 2018 General Election Non-Partisan Candidate Assembly, where candidates for Governor, Attorney General and Treasurer attended and answered questions concerning CONECT's issue proposals on gun violence, immigration, health care/mental health and criminal justice reform issues. On criminal justice reform, CONECT asked candidates to commit to supporting "Clean Slate" legislation that would automatically expunge criminal records for formerly incarcerated people who have no further convictions after a specified period of time depending on whether the offense was a misdemeanor or felony. All candidates present committed to establishing a public working relationship with CONECT if elected, and agreed to an initial follow-up meeting within 60 days of being elected.

Thu Nov 15, 2018
Durham CAN Wins Commitments from All Judicial Candidates on Criminal Justice Reforms -Metro IAF

October 27th: In a packed non-partisan assembly in North Carolina that was standing room only, 600+ Durham CAN leaders held accountable candidates for District and Superior Court Judges and the District Attorney-elect on issues such as ending cash bail, court fines and fees, and a commitment that people with mental illness will not be sent to jail, among other criminal justice reform issues. Durham CAN also won commitments from the District Attorney and Sheriff that they would not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and that the District Attorney and Judges would provide interpreters at Court, and waive crushing fines for driving without a license. All of the judicial candidates who attended the action committed to to support Durham CAN's criminal justice agenda.

Wed Oct 31, 2018
Texas IAF Targets 19 Hottest State, Federal Races in State Suburbs -McClatchy & More

In a move to shift the makeup of the state legislature, Texas IAF organizations reached into suburbs surrounding Texas’ largest cities to assemble by the thousands in political, nonpartisan assemblies to help leaders wrest commitments from candidates for state and federal office. Having witnessed candidate responses to locally-developed agendas, which span from local control to Texas school finance and federal immigration reform, leaders are now mobilizing their neighbors to Get Out The Vote.

In North Dallas, for example, two thousand DAI leaders -- many from Carrollton and Farmers Branch -- invited candidates for House Districts 114, 115, 105 and 107, and Congressional District 32, to...

Tue Oct 30, 2018
IAF Responds to Tragedy in Pittsburgh -Metro IAF & West / Southwest IAF

The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) stands with the Jewish community in this time of tragedy, death, and fear. We condemn the horrific shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this weekend and urge a cessation of the heated political rhetoric that is giving rise to anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and violence around the country.

Just over three years ago, 9 members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, also died practicing their faith. It is tragic that many faith communities are beginning to feel that they can only gather safely if they provide for armed deterrence from deadly acts of hate from guns and firearms. Houses of worship should not be places where people fear to assemble.

In the last 10 days, we have also seen a black man and woman killed in the Kentucky Kroger and numerous political and religious figures targeted for harm, including the mailing of explosive packages to numerous public officials. We denounce all these heinous acts and call for a response of justice and civility.

The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) is the nation’s oldest and largest non-partisan network of 75 Broad Based Community Organizations throughout the United States representing hundreds of thousands of families. We intentionally work in local areas to build a sense of greater community valuing diversity, pluralism, and acting together to build local democracy and public life. This week, we are supporting and organizing local gatherings and vigils of solidarity to stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters.

We know that the current polarized climate doesn’t have to be nor should it be normalized. We have demonstrated that people from diverse backgrounds can work together around common agendas that cross racial, ethnic, religious, political, gender and class divides. We are compelled to challenge all of us to stand with Jewish communities throughout the nation in this hour of horror and tragedy.

In this era of hyper-partisanship, we call upon our elected officials, from our nation’s capital to our local leaders, to work across party lines in a way that represents our interests and to stop using language that polarizes and encourages those who would use hate as a tool.

Over the long term, our work of organizing and community building for a common good continues. This requires tolerance and acceptance of disagreements from those with a broad spectrum of political and religious beliefs and traditions, and the acknowledgment that we are all responsible for forming a common public life.

We should never forget the words from the Book of Psalms:

Light shines in the darkness for the upright;
the righteous are merciful and full of compassion…
For they will never be shaken
the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance

Thu Sep 20, 2018
Cops, Priests Urge Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer -Bloomberg Business

“Law enforcement has some of the tools—but not all of them,” Acevedo said in a statement. “Our message to Mr. Debney and the other CEOs is, you have a leadership role to play too. We can’t do it without you.”

Manger and Acevedo’s letter received a statement of support from Do Not Stand Idly By, an organization made up of law enforcement leaders, medical and public health professionals and religious leaders to promote smart guns. In a SEC filing earlier this month, Smith & Wesson said it does not invest in research and development for smart gun technology because it does not believe such a product would interest consumers.

Thu Aug 9, 2018
COPS/Metro Gets $15 /Hour Living Wage into San Antonio Draft Budget -San Antonio Express-News

....For the first time in city history, the lowest-paid municipal workers are set to begin earning $15 an hour — a major victory for COPS/Metro Alliance, which has been advocating for a living wage for several years.

Thu Jul 26, 2018
TMO Leverages Commitment of First City in Texas for Gun Safety Strategy -Houston Public Media & CW39 Houston

At a gathering of 100 clergy and leaders from diverse faith communities at Congregation Beth Israel, TMO succeeded in leveraging the support of Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, making Houston the first city in Texas to support the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign for gun safety. 

The ceremonial signing was preceded by remarks by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher (Metro IAF), Mr. Ernesto Cortes Jr. (West / Southwest IAF), and Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo about the pressing need for an effective strategy.

Wed Jul 25, 2018
1,200 AIM Leaders Launch 'Get Out The Vote' Effort in Montgomery Co -Metro IAF

It was standing room only when AIM (link is external) leaders gathered to clarify the commitments of the County Executive Candidates to AIM's bold proposals for the future of Montgomery County. The AIM demands were developed over a year of listening sessions with 3000 people throughout the county and the focus was on specific community solutions.

The evening started with spirit as Pastor Haywood Robinson led those congregated in the song "It Will Get Better," and put forth AIM's analysis of the county. "Montgomery County is at a cross roads, with enormous changes in politics, population and economics. . . AIM has been part of governing this county for nearly 20 years and we are committed to a vision of a county where all people can thrive, regardless of race, income, age or economic status."

Wed Jul 25, 2018
Durham CAN Pressures City Council to Prioritize Affordable Housing -Metro IAF

Over 100 leaders pressured Durham City Council to prioritize affordable housing on over 4 acres of city-owned land in the heart of Downtown Durham. As a result, the mayor presented a proposal that reflected Durham CAN's top priority and included all of their demands: a minimum of 80 units of affordable housing for families under 60% AMI, including a commitment for a developer to work with the Durham Housing Authority to accept residents with vouchers. CAN won strong press coverage, including a front page story in the local newspaper.

Wed Jul 25, 2018
Maryland IAF Wins School Funding Commitments from State Legislators -Metro IAF

AIM, BUILD and PATH won commitments from twelve Maryland state delegates and senators and three candidates to pass and fully fund the Kirwan Commission recommendations. The Kirwan Commission, which brings together representatives from across Maryland to make recommendations for improving education in the state, is set to issue a once-in-a-generation plan for fully funding schools - a $3 billion increase across the state if it is passed and funded in the 2019 legislative session.

Wed Jul 25, 2018
VOICE Secures Mayoral Candidate Pledges on Affordable Housing -Metro IAF
VOICE (link is external) and ARHA Resident Association Leaders presented the VOICE Issue Agenda in the context of the racial history of Old Town Alexandria. Following the presentation of 1,400+ voter pledge cards, VOICE received commitments from both mayoral candidates to work with VOICE on the following:
  • Working to enforce the affordable housing parameters set in the Housing Master Plan
  • Strengthening Resolution 830 to ensure preservation of public housing in the city
  • Ensuring a culture in public housing that encourages resident participation in the decision making of public housing
  • Increasing equity in public schools around suspension rates
  • Researching city contractors and sub-contractors to ensure that all people who work in the city can live in the city....