Education and Youth

Wed Feb 2, 2011

The Jeremiah Group in New Orleans first brought forth 25 parents with gifted children that had been denied admissions to advanced academies in the Jefferson parish.  After several months of challenging the lack of transparency and irregularities of the admissions process, evidence emerged that school board members wrote letters supporting the admission of certain children, leading the Superintendent to step down.

Within eight months the Jefferson Parish School Board passed new protocols putting testing and admissions under central control, ensuring that student test scores (and not political connections) are the determining factor in admissions to schools for high-performing students.  Jeremiah Group advocated for these changes, thus simplifying the process and making it more accessible to all parents.

Wed Oct 14, 2009

The Alliance Schools Initiative grew out of relationships between member institutions in the local Texas IAF organizations and public schools in their neighborhoods. The Texas Network took relational organizing principles into low income communities to engage parents and community in the transformation of their schools.  This model of school organizing has been replicated by other West and Southwest IAF organizations, and has been widely recognized by both the public and private sector as a successful strategy for community engagement and student achievement. Most recently, a study by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University credits Austin Interfaith’s work with area Alliance Schools for increasing student achievement on standardized tests by an average of 15-19%, as well as for improving professional culture and parent involvement at the campuses. In fact, the Annenberg study found that Austin Interfaith’s work with the schools benefited not only those particular campuses, but resulted in substantial new resources for all high poverty, low-performing schools in the district.

Wed Sep 2, 2009

Lake County United researched, developed and launched Waukegan to College, an intensive family-focused college readiness program in 2009.  This fall the program has grown to 52 students from 30 families, with 10 students now in college.  With guidance from a 12 member planning team, we have completed a strategic plan for Waukegan to College and will begin recruiting a board of directors to oversee the program as it spins off into its own stand alone non-profit roughly one year from now.

Environment

Sun May 21, 2017

After years of fighting for better regulation of waste management industry in Pomona, Inland Communities Organizing Network (ICON) celebrated a unanimous City Council decision to ban new trash processing stations.  The ban prohibits new businesses from moving into Pomona and prohibits any expansion of current establishments.  ICON leader Reverend Julie Roberts-Fronk of First Christian Church testified that “since 2011, our leaders have come to the city council, planning commission and city staff.  The overwhelming sentiment among residents was and continues to be ‘enough, no mas!  Fix this.”

The effort initially grew out of an ICON ”Don’t Trash Pomona” campaign, begun by member congregation First Presbyterian Church, in which leaders succeeded in negotiating a 33% reduction of trash processed at the plant and conversion of company trucks to CNG alternative fuel.

Said Lisa Engdahl of First Presbyterian, the ban “communicates to the region that it is not business as usual in Pomona; we have high hopes and expectations for our city…we will no longer be the region’s dumping ground.”

Pomona Moves to Ban New Business in This IndustryInland Valley Bulletin [pdf]

Pomona Council Takes Steps Leading to Moratorium on Recycling, Waste Processing BusinessesInland Valley Bulletin [pdf]


Mon Mar 20, 2017

When Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) first attempted to shift the cost of plant updates to consumers rather than to shareholders VOICE-OKC fought back, urging the utility commission to stop the plan and leveraging the Attorney General’s support for a lower charge. In 2016, OG&E proposed a rate increase of $92.5 million ($7 per month) to cover the expenses, but they again found themselves up against dogged VOICE leaders.

This year, Elise Robillard declared on behalf of VOICE-OKC, “It’s time to stop protecting profits for major corporations like OG&E and start protecting the families of Oklahoma, people who are going to have to choose between buying groceries and paying their electric bill.” Finally succumbing to organized campaigns of weekly calls to address the issue, the utility commission ruled, permitting OG&E an $8.9 Million rate increase (only 72 cents per month). Furthermore, the commission will claw back $50 Million in back charges to residential users, inappropriately charged by OG&E prior to the ruling.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Decides on OG&E’s Proposed Rate IncreaseKFOR Channel 4

Background from 2015


Mon Mar 20, 2017

When Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) first attempted to shift the cost of plant updates to consumers rather than to shareholders VOICE-OKC fought back, urging the utility commission to stop the plan and leveraging the Attorney General’s support for a lower charge. In 2016, OG&E proposed a rate increase of $92.5 million ($7 per month) to cover the expenses, but they again found themselves up against dogged VOICE leaders.

This year, Elise Robillard declared on behalf of VOICE-OKC, “It’s time to stop protecting profits for major corporations like OG&E and start protecting the families of Oklahoma, people who are going to have to choose between buying groceries and paying their electric bill.” Finally succumbing to organized campaigns of weekly calls to address the issue, the utility commission ruled, permitting OG&E an $8.9 Million rate increase (only 72 cents per month). Furthermore, the commission will claw back $50 Million in back charges to residential users, inappropriately charged by OG&E prior to the ruling.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Decides on OG&E’s Proposed Rate IncreaseKFOR Channel 4

Background from 2015


Wed Jun 25, 2014

The OTOC Environmental Sustainability Team formed early this year upon learning that the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) planned to continue burning coal in North Omaha and retreat from the use of renewable energy sources (including wind and solar). They presented 4 key demands to the OPPD Board leading them to revise their plans to end coal burning in North Omaha by 2016 and maintain a minimum use of 32% of renewable sources.

Pictured below is the team of OTOC leaders that pushed the Board to revise its energy plan.  Articles below quote OTOC leader Laurie Gift and OTOC ally Rev. Eric Elnes.

OPPD Plans to Retire all North Omaha Station’s Coal-Fired Units; Other Plants in Midlands Adapt to Clean Air Rules DifferentlyOmaha World Herald [pdf]

Omaha Public Power District Begins to Map Plan for Powering Next 20 YearsWorld-Herald[pdf]

Fact Sheet on OPPD’s Revised PlanOTOC


Tue Apr 10, 2012

Thanks to the organizing of religious leaders in Howard County, the Maryland General Assembly passed a stormwater bill requiring the state's 15 largest municipalities (including Howard County) to create stormwater runoff fees.  This is a huge environmental victory as well as a potential dedicated funding source for the youth conservation corps that PATH creating with the county!  PATH worked closely with a coalition of environmental groups and the County Executive to help pass this bill in Annapolis, and turned out dozens and dozens of people to hearings, a rally, and small group meetings with legislators.  

Thu Aug 11, 2011

Representatives of 40 religious groups from the Washington Interfaith Network met with energy officials to secure a collective buying deal featuring lower utility rates and green energy. (Photo Credit: New York Times)


Tue Apr 5, 2011

The Interfaith Community Organization (now the Jersey City chapter of New Jersey Together) launched its campaign to rid Jersey City of toxic chromium wastes more than 20 years ago.  In the spring of 2011, it won another large-scale cleanup -- much like the landmark legal victory which forced Honeywell to carry out a $400 million cleanup.  PPG Industries will remove 600,000 tons of cancer-causing industrial wastes that it left behind  in a densely populated neighborhood when it closed its local manufacturing operation a half century ago.  PPG settled a lawsuit brought by ICO and our environmental ally, the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Financial Reform

Wed May 10, 2017

After HB1913 passed, threatening to triple the cap on small personal loans and boost the maximum interest rate to 204% per year, VOICE leaders and allies persisted in their fight against the bill.

Leaders publicly called on Governor Mary Fallin to veto the bill, on television and in writing arguing, as did Fr. Tim Luschen, that the bill is “not anything that can make our community a better place.”

In her veto message, Governor Fallin urged legislators to consult with “all stakeholders,” including consumer advocates, if they choose to revisit the issue.

Oklahoma Governor Fallin Vetoes Payday Loan BillThe Oklahoman

Churches, Charities Asking Gov. Mary Fallin to Veto Payday Loan BillKOCO TV

Oklahoma Priest: Legislature Should Reject High Interest Loan BillThe Oklahoman [pdf]


Mon Mar 16, 2015

For the second time in one year, IAF organizations (EPISO and Border Interfaith) dealt a harsh blow to the bottom line of payday lenders in El Paso, Texas.

During last year’s fight to restrict how much payday lenders can legally make off the backs of lower-income families, opponents from the lending industry couched their financial predation under the guise of “providing a valuable service” to residents.  After winning a significant victory in 2014 limiting payday lending profits, leaders wanted more.

In financial literacy civic academies held in the poorest neighborhoods of El Paso, families revealed that when a tire blew, or a child got sick, they needed fast cash.  They had the capacity to repay small loans, but were shut out of traditional consumer credit markets due to lack of income or credit…(more here)


Thu Aug 11, 2011

Southweast Wisconsin Common Ground successfully negotiated over $4 million in housing re-investment from financial institutions whose foreclosures had devastated the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee.  


Thu Aug 11, 2011

Pastor Soliney Vedrine and Winique Green look on as testimony is given about the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization's Moving from Debt to Asset's program.  This groundbreaking financial empowerment program has graduated more than 700 graduates and provided each of them with $500 scholarships to begin a financial savings plan.


Health Care

Wed Jun 28, 2017

At the urging of COPA leadership, the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County unanimously voted to quadruple the size of COPA’s healthcare pilot project from $500 thousand to $2 Million on an annual basis.

The expanded program will provide at least 2,500 low-income undocumented residents, including farm workers and their families, with full-scope primary and preventative care, labs, radiology, medication and specialty services.  A third-party administrator will be hired to issue enrollment cards, administer payments and track data.

Said Catholic Bishop Richard Garcia, “This has been a success because of the strong belief and labor of so many of our COPA members and our many great leaders representing our various communities!”

The real story is the persistent leadership demonstrated by leaders who are also future beneficiaries — immigrants concerned about their families and neighbors. These leaders organized hundreds of meetings in parishes and neighborhoods, participated in strategy meetings and publicly shared their story at Board meetings. Said leader Tony Jara of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, “This program will allow me to [see a specialist], so I can work and care for my family without experiencing …constant pain.  It gives me great joy to work towards something that will help others in a similar situation.”

[In photo, Veronica Torres of St. Mary Catholic Church will finally be able to see a urologist under the expanded pilot project.]

Background stories detail how COPA:

2016 – Won Support for Undocumented Healthcare

2015 – Leveraged $500,000 for Pilot Health Project

2015 – Defended Healthcare for Unauthorized Kids

2014 – Busted Up Barriers to Healthcare Access

2013 – Resurrected Low Income Health Plan


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