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

    Chicago IAF Housing Win Builds on Nehemiah Home Ownership Strategy

    Washington Post Profiles Nehemiah Strategy as 'Revitalization Without Gentrification'  This summer, United Power for Action & Justice (UPAJ) secured $27.6 Million in commitments and land towards the building of 2,000 Nehemiah Homes on vacant lots controlled by the city in severely blighted areas on the city's south and west sides as part of its Reclaiming Chicago campaign.  In a press conference with Mayor Lightfoot, Illinois Senate President Harmon and other local officials and allies, UPAJ announced the following advances: 1) Chicago Mayor Lightfoot's commitment of the first 250 city-owned vacant lots (the first of 1,000) in North Lawndale and $5.3 million in TIF funds for site remediation from the city of Chicago; 2) $12.25 million from private investors (e.g. banks, wealthy individuals, and family foundations) towards a 0%, 5-year revolving construction loan fund to build homes at scale. UPAJ's goal is to secure $25 million in funding to allow for the construction of 100 Nehemiah homes at a time. 3) $10 million line item in the Illinois State Budget for grant funds for homebuyer subsidies. This is enough to assist approximately 300 new homebuyers in purchasing 300 new constructed homes. UPAJ's Reclaiming Chicago campaign is modeled on the Metro IAF Nehemiah Housing strategy which has built more than 6,500 homes for first-time home-buyers, creating over $2 Billion in wealth and with a foreclosure rate of less than 1% in New York, Jersey City, Baltimore, Chicago, Prince George's County, Philadelphia, Memphis and Washington DC.  This strategy was recently profiled by the Washington Post: [Excerpt] IAF [was] instrumental in one of the most successful experiments in affordable housing. In the early 1980s, New York City Mayor Ed Koch agreed to sell 16-square miles of abandoned lots in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood to a group of local churches for $1 per lot. The city also offered $10,000 deferred payment loans to perspective [sic] home buyers. Around 1,250 homes were initially constructed with prices starting as low as $50,000. The project — called Nehemiah homes — created a critical mass of development and equity in the neighborhood that continues today. More than 4,500 Nehemiah homes have been built since the 1980s in the New York City area, generating more than a billion dollars in total homeowner equity, according to the developers. The project has a less than 1 percent foreclosure rate, and a study conducted by Nehemiah found that children who grew up in the development earned 53 percent higher wages than their parents. [Photo Credit: Joshua Lott, Washington Post] These Chicago Residents Are Trying to Revitalize Their Neighborhood Without Gentrification, Washington Post [pdf] A New Model for Affordable Housing, Washington Post Reports [podcast] Vacant, City-Owned Land In North Lawndale Could Soon See Hundreds Of Homes, WBEZ Chicago [pdf] 
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    On the Passing of Msgr. John Powis

    We are sorry to announce that Msgr. John Powis passed away yesterday after a long illness.  Msgr. Powis was a founding leader of EBC when he served as pastor of Presentation Parish in Oceanhill-Brownsville.  He then moved to Bushwick, where he led St. Barbara's Parish for many years.  Msgr. Powis was part of a small team of priests that led the negotiations with the late Bishop Francis J. Mugavero as EBC began its Nehemiah Plan in 1982 and 1983.  He was a relentless champion of the people of East Brooklyn and an unwavering partner to all the clergy and lay leaders of EBC and Metro IAF.  He loved the New York Mets, loved being a parish priest, loved Brooklyn, and loved EBC.  His spirit and toughness inspired us all. Mike Gecan, IAF Senior Organizer & Dr. David K. Brawley, EBC Co-Chair Msgr. John Powis, Champion of Brooklyn’s Downtrodden, Dies at 87, NY Times [pdf] [Photo Credit: Linda Rosier, NY Times]
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