Who We Are

Founded in 1940, the Industrial Areas Foundation is the nation's largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations.

The IAF partners with religious congregations and civic organizations at the local level to build broad-based organizing projects, which create new capacity in a community for leadership development, citizen-led action and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities.

The IAF created the modern model of faith- and broad-based organizing and is widely recognized as having the strongest track record in the nation for citizen leadership development and for helping congregations and other civic organizations act on their missions to achieve lasting change in the world.

The IAF, which includes the West / Southwest IAF and Metro IAF, currently works with thousands of religious congregations, non-profits, civic organizations and unions, in more than sixty-five cities across the United States and in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.


  • Latest from the blog

    Michael Gecan: Recovery Will Take More Than Money

    The pandemic offers Americans a chance to look hard at the ways in which government has failed society—but also a chance to do something about it. [Excerpt] Until the pandemic arrived, I had been spending about four days a month in southern Ohio. It’s a rural area roughly 100 by 100 miles, bounded by the Ohio River on the south, the Indiana line on the west, Chillicothe to the north, and Athens to the west—home to 350,000 residents. For someone like me, Chicago-born and -bred, who has lived and worked in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, and points in between for the past 40 years, driving from town to town and hamlet to hamlet, with appointments often 60 miles apart, was an entirely new experience. I began this effort because I had long thought that the kind of organizing that my colleagues in the Industrial Areas Foundation and I practiced, begun by Saul Alinsky in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago, had settled into urban and metropolitan areas, but had largely avoided rural communities. This was not a conscious decision or a conscious strategy. It was a drift. But the drift worried me. I kept looking at electoral maps and seeing a sea of red in the center of the country, in Ohio counties like Ross and Scioto and Gallia counties that once had been home to the United Mine Workers union and that had been mixed politically, but that now leaned strongly to the right. I hadn’t concluded, as some progressives had, that these counties were so conservative, so reactionary, so racist, that they weren’t worth thinking about.... Recovery Will Take More Than Money, The Nation [pdf]
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    California IAF Urges Gov. Newsom to Help All Essential Workers, Demanding Justice Not Charity

    On Tuesday evening, May 5, over 1,200 California IAF leaders, 10 Bishops and 7 state legislators converged on Zoom and Facebook Live to demand the Governor and legislature provide immediate relief for essential workers left out of state and federal relief.  "There are millions of California workers who take care of our elders, our children, grow our food, and get it to the stores. Many of them are undocumented, but their work contributes billions of dollars to the California economy," said Rev. Dr. Julie Roberts-Fronk, Co-Chair of the action and a leader with ICON. Undocumented immigrants represent 10% of the California workforce, pay over $3 billion in state and local taxes and add $180 billion to the economy. They comprise 33% of agricultural workers and 32% of healthcare workers in California, working at great personal risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.  "During this pandemic, there is a tendency to throw people to the margins, to throw them into the shadows,"said Bishop Jaime Soto, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.  "What we need to do is develop a culture of encounter, a culture of solidarity to beat back the coronavirus and to create a healthy and safe network. We need to recognize the flaw in the Cal EITC. It leaves out California workers and taxpayers, which not only jeopardizes their lives, it also jeopardizes the well being of the entire state of California." "Immigrant workers are not draining our economy, they are subsidizing it," said Senator Maria Elena Durazo. "We would not be the fifth largest economy in the world without them." Earlier this month, the California IAF and the California Catholic Conference wrote letters to Governor Newsom, urging him to expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) to include ITIN filers, many of whom are undocumented. The tax credit would put much needed dollars quickly back into the hands of working families. Studies show that for every 1 dollar invested in workers, the local economy generates 2 dollars.  Maria Elena Manzo, a leader with COPA has worked with a group of women in Salinas for many years to spread the word about the Cal EITC. "When they first learned about the tax credit, they were very excited. One woman said, 'this is going to come at a perfect time, the agricultural season has not started yet and we are struggling right now.' Her hopes vanished when she learned she wasn’t going to get the credit, but it did not stop her from helping others." Leaders secured commitments from state legislators to work with their six organizations to advance the legislation during upcoming budget hearings, and to press the Governor to find the money. They also committed to meeting with local organizations within two weeks, and joining regional civic academies on the issue to build a larger constituency. Immigrant Workers Face Economic Uncertainty During Covid-19 Shutdown, America Magazine [pdf] Lideres Religiosos Piden Mas Apoyo Para la Comunidad Inmigrante, [VIDEO] Telemundo Bay Area [pdf] Local Faith Leaders Support Undocumented Workers, Los Altos Crier [pdf] Líderes Religiosos Piden al Estado que Apoye a los Inmigrantes Indocumentados, The Pajaronian [pdf] Faith Leaders Call on State to Support Undocumented Immigrants, The Pajaronian [pdf]
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