Sun Jan 1, 2017

‘Nevadans for the Common Good’ leaders discovered that Nevada was ranked 51st in the nation in terms of the level of state support for Meals on Wheels.  As a result, there were over 1,000 homebound seniors who were on the waiting list. NCG leveraged the support of municipal governments, state legislators and the governor to increase state funding to $3.4 million (a tenfold increase) in order to eliminate the waiting list.


Anti-Corruption

Fri Jun 2, 2017

When petrochemical companies operating in rural Louisiana attempted to directly negotiate an industrial tax discount with the local parish (county), the effort ran up against the Louisiana Constitution. The local tax assessor sued and the state courts ruled that the agreement violated the Constitution. Developers then crafted House Bill 444, a constitutional amendment that would legalize direct negotiations with local governments. The amendment would allow corporations to work around Industrial Tax Exemption Program reforms recently won by Together Louisiana.

Proclaiming the bill “taxation by backroom deal,” leaders descended upon a Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee hearing to fight it.  After leaders heard several rounds of testimonials about how HB444 would provide yet another “tool” in the “toolbox” of local economic development, a new metaphor emerged.

“I’m so tired of hearing about the toolbox for economic development.” proclaimed veteran Together Louisiana leader Edgar Cage. “This tool in the toolbox…. It’s a screwdriver. And guess who’s getting screwed?”

Against all odds, and with commendation from sitting committee members, Together Louisiana leaders prevailed, influencing enough votes from both political parties to kill the bill.

[In photo, Together Louisiana leader Edgar Cage describes the tool reserved for regular citizens.]

Together Louisiana, State’s Assessors Team Up to Defeat Major Corporate Tax-Giveaway SchemeWeekly Citizen

Together  Louisiana Kills HB444 — Taxation by Backroom DealTogether Louisiana [video]

Major Tax Break for Business Dies in Senate CommitteeThe Advocate [pdf]


Wed Feb 22, 2017

Eight months after their victory in reforming the state Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP), leaders of Together Louisiana noticed that industrial tax exemptions spiked 441% in its last year (2016), with the majority of tax exemptions granted after the reforms passed.  They additionally noticed that the Commerce and Industry Board reversed the wording of the measure to undermine the reform that would have limited exemptions to proposals that had secured the approval of the local municipalities sacrificing the revenue.

Unsatisfied with the explanation that the 2016 reforms were not to touch applications already in the works, 100 faith and community leaders of Together Louisiana organized a press conference before the Board of Commerce and Industry’s meeting and then sat in on the meeting itself — demonstrating a rare presence of citizen oversight of a committee that distributed $4.9 billion in tax exemptions last year.

Under the watchful gaze of Together LA, the committee unanimously rejected six applications that directly violated the Governor’s order and added a “Sunshine Provision” to the ITEP program rules to allow local citizens to learn when exemptions are being considered by local bodies. Thanks to Together LA, Louisiana Economic Development must now post on its website, within three days, when proposed tax expenditures are forwarded to local municipalities for consideration, thus beginning a 120 day period for the provision of public input.

[In photo: Ann Dunn addresses the press on behalf of Together Louisiana.]

Despite Gov. Bel Edwards’ Efforts to Rein It In, Tax Break Even More Lucrative for Manufacturers in 2016The Advocate [pdf]

Together LA: Corporate Giveaways Continue ApaceThe INDsider

Together Louisiana Protests Industrial Tax Exemption ProgramGreater Baton Rouge Business Report

The Ship is Not Turning: Status Update on Gov. Edwards’ Effort to Reform the Industrial Tax Exemption ProgramTogether Louisiana


Community Building

Thu Sep 29, 2016

Just days before Congress adjourns for October recess, the word among lobbyists was that a proposal for flood recovery funding for Louisiana would not even get a vote for inclusion in the continuing resolution (short term budget).  It was the last opportunity to secure funding for flood recovery before the lame duck session.

Then, according to Together Baton Rouge (TBR), sister IAF organizations across the country began contacting their congressional representatives and senators urging them to support the funding package — across partisan lines.  Together Baton Rouge posted a video that, in less than one day, was viewed 55,000 times as leaders quickly spread its message urging people to contact their congressional representatives.

48 hours after the funding was declared dead on arrival, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, threw his full support behind the funding and announced it would receive a vote.

At stake was tens of thousands of homes and potential foreclosures.

After more days of posturing, haggling and deal cutting, the Senate voted (72-26) in support of the Resolution and the House voted (342-85) in support.  TBR additionally credited the Louisiana Governor and congressional delegation for “working tirelessly across party lines to make the case for flood recovery.”  They also credited high-ranking House and Senate Democrat and Republic leaders for the win (see right).

How a Bill REALLY Becomes a LawTogether Baton Rouge

Congress Clears Bill to Prevent ShutdownPolitico

Congress Averts Shutdown with $500M Flood Aid Plan, Billed as ‘Down Payment’ for LouisianaThe Advocate

U.S. Senate Leaders Propose $500M ‘Down Payment’ on Louisiana Flood ReliefThe Advocate

Great Flood of 2016 and What We Need to RebuildTogether Baton Rouge


Fri Feb 6, 2015

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 an additional $4.5 Million to begin construction to extend Edgemere Boulevard from the City of El Paso into the unincorporated community.  The road will better allow residents from Montana Vista to better access the City of El Paso; Montana Vista is currently accessible by only one road.


Wed Mar 19, 2014

With 650 people in attendance and 40 institutions represented in the roll call, Metro Vancouver Alliance launched a brand new organization in Canada.  The assembly included senior political and religious leaders including the Catholic Archbishop and the newly invested Anglican Bishop. in addition to a plethora of younger people and diverse faces in the crowd.

Metro Vancouver Alliance Founding AssemblyDiocese of New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada


Fri Jun 21, 2013

“An enthusiastic crowd of about 1,500 people filled a Vallejo high school gym Sunday afternoon to welcome a new multi-county organization to the community.

Common Ground was introduced at the convention, which was attended by members of its 15 member institutions, and Napa and Solano counties and state elected officials.  The broad-based organization is made of religious and non-profit organizations from Vallejo, Benicia, Fairfield, American Canyon and Napa, who ‘have the capacity to act on the issues in our community,’ said co-chairman Todd Bertani, of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Fairfield.”

Common Ground Kicks Off to Serve CommunitiesTimes Herald (Printable Version)

Common Ground Kicks Off with Energetic ConvictionDaily Republic (Printable Version)

Diverse Solano, Napa Agencies to Seek ‘Common Ground’Times Herald

New Organization Unites Faith Communities, Other Agencies, Daily Republic


Sun Apr 22, 2012

On November 16, 2011, over 250 community leaders from throughout Westchester County joined together to launch Westchester United – a new power base for positive social change. This is the culmination of two years of organizing with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, an organizing network which helps build independent organizations that have initiated far-reaching strategies on housing, health care, education and other concerns.

Drawing on the proven power of person-to-person organizing, these communities have engaged hundreds of Westchester residents as part of a process that is uncovering public concerns.

Reporting on what was learned, speakers told stories of families unable to afford outrageous mortgage payments, of barriers to educational opportunities, and of a series of specific concerns surrounding safety and mobility – for seniors and others. The next steps for this new organization is to do in depth research about the dynamics surrounding these struggles so as to prepare for effective and meaningful responses.  Learn more at Westchester-United.org.


Thu Aug 11, 2011

Over 2000 people from 40 Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular congregations and organizations packed out the Masonic Auditorium in downtown Cleveland for the founding assembly of Greater Cleveland Congregations, the newest afiliate of Metro IAF.  GCC priority issues are Education, Jobs, Health Care, Criminal Justice, and Sustainable Foods.


Education and Youth

Fri Jul 7, 2017
On June 7th, BUILD won the restoration of $2.58 million in cuts to Baltimore City after-school and community school programs.  The BUILD One Baltimore campaign began in 2015 with jobs, safety, and youth program funding demands. Every major Mayoral candidate – including then candidate Pugh – agreed to these demands at the largest Baltimore City mayoral candidate accountability forum in March 2016.
 
When Mayor Pugh reneged on her promise to retain funding for after-school programs, BUILD, along with the No Boundaries Coalition and the Baltimore Youth Organizing Project (BYOP), confronted the Mayor at a youth-led action attended by hundreds of youth and supportive adults. When she refused to meet demands, BUILD stepped up the pressure by securing unanimous commitment from City Council members to make cuts to the Mayor’s budget to force her to restore money to the school budget.  Halfway through the June 7th youth-led hearing before the Council budget committee attended by hundreds, Council President Jack Young announced that negotiations had ended with the Mayor agreeing to restore the funding.
 

Sun Jun 11, 2017

In May GCC held a 125-person "Listen, Act, Win" action with Cleveland Schools CEO Eric Gordon at JFK High School about GCC's 2017 education agenda.  Victories from the action include: John F. Kennedy Eagle Academy and PACT, with an estimated total of 650 students, will have full after-school programming with arts, music and athletics; trauma teams will be created for John F. Kennedy Eagle and PACT schools to deal with issues like the opioid crisis and street violence; and the Downtown Education Center, the school inside the juvenile detention facility, will now be able to provide summer learning for approximately 220 students.


Fri May 26, 2017

Nevadans for the Common Good celebrated a positive resolution to an education issue affecting students of Fremont Middle School.  When the school district released rebuilding plans that involved busing Fremont middle-schoolers to another school, courageous parents and teachers began a year of conversing with each other and identifying allies.

With the support of neighboring institutions Christ Church Episcopal and Reformation Lutheran Church, Fremont leaders persuaded the School Board to approve a “transformational new plan for Fremont”: rebuilding Fremont as a K-8 school and constructing a new Global High School in the neighborhood.

[Photo Credit: Bridget Bennett, Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Defenders Hopeful Board OKs Plan to Keep Middle-Schoolers at FremontLas Vegas Review Journal


Thu Mar 9, 2017

240 elementary school students are now drumming, dancing, cooking, playing basketball, doing academics, and getting a hot dinner every day after school thanks to AIM.  The Dream Academy Program is modeled after Child First Authority, an after school program created by Metro IAF affiliate BUILD, and organizes parents to be engaged in their school and community, and to win quality after school programming in the lowest income schools in Montgomery County MD.

AIM started organizing two years ago when parents and school staff said over and over that quality, affordable after school programming was non-existent for low-income students and was contributing to the opportunity and achievement gap for students of color and low-income students. The program provides an hour of recreation and an hour of academics to students four days a week.

AIM is working to expand the program to four additional schools in 2018.

Wed Jan 11, 2017

Following almost nine weeks of pressure from Spokane Alliance members and allies, the Spokane Public Schools (SPS) school board unanimously voted to make a public statement on recent school bullying that included four key points leaders advocated for:  reaffirmation of the district’s commitment to respect all students; commitment to swift enforcement of harassment, intimidation and bullying; contact information for those needing to report incidents; and the context of the divisive year in politics.

Leaders testifying at the school board meeting were supported by dozens of parents and community leaders inspiring one leader to say, “It makes me want to cry to see so many people standing up together for children – as I’ve stood alone with parents so often with no resolution.”

Spokane School Board Reaffirms Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion Following Reports of Harassment Following Trump’s Election WinSpokesman-Review

Parents Call for Spokane Public Schools to Address Trump Inspired BullyingInlander

Full SPS Board Statement


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