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

    Delegation Visits Pope Francis

    Our network had the rare opportunity to visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.   An interfaith delegation of 20 leaders and organizers met with him to share our collective work of broad based organizing at a time when the Pope is guiding the global church in a historic Synod listening process. The Holy Father sat side by side with us in his residence, thanking us for inconveniencing ourselves to come see him.  What ensued was a true dialogue, a 90-minute conversation in Spanish with lots of back and forth engagement.  The encounter was filled with many graced moments about both the joys and the struggles of our work, and the work of the Church, past, present, and to come.  This invitation to meet was in large part due to the recognition of our work by local Bishops, particularly those involved with the 'Recognizing the Stranger' strategy, which is dedicated to formation and leadership development of immigrant parishioners. As well, our involvement to support the Synod process in multiple dioceses has helped to bring those in the margins to the center of the synodal dialogue.  As we shared our experiences of organizing, we were struck by how carefully he listened, asked questions, and engaged with lots of humor. Early on, he reflected back to us, “Usaron mucho las palabras ‘ver’ y ‘escuchar,’... Me impresiona que ninguno de ustedes es parte de alguna teoría.  Ninguno dice ‘leí un libro y me interesó eso.’” (You constantly use the words “to see” and “to listen.. I am impressed that none of you start with any theory. No one says ‘I read a book and that interested me.’)  “El peligro es intelectualizar el problema” (The danger is when you intellectualize a problem). He stressed the importance of being with people and paying  attention to their reality, emphasizing Amor Concreto, love concretely in action, saying that he understood our work as seeing and hearing of injustice in the real lives of our people, acting to change the situation, and being changed ourselves as a result. He expressed his appreciation for our focus on what we are doing, rather than to complain about what is not being done or to disparage anyone. “Ustedes no menospreciaron a nadie.” Before concluding, he thanked us for our visit, saying that although he had never known of IAF before, he was glad that he knew us now, and he welcomed further conversation around our continuing work with the Synod process. We teach that power recognizes power.  For Pope Francis, “el verdadero poder es el servicio,” (“true power is service”).  Recounting the Good Samaritan, he clearly stated that the Gospel cannot be understood without acting with those who are suffering.  He recognized the leaders and organizations of the IAF and the powerful work that is happening every day at the margins. He referred to the IAF as “Good News for the United States.” We are humbled to represent the many decades of work from those who preceded us, and we are encouraged in the continuation of our work into the future.  
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    The Problem With Jon Stewart to Cover Texas IAF Effort to Stem Corporate Tax Breaks at Expense of Students

    Last summer, Texas IAF leaders and nonprofit allies shut down Chapter 313 (a state tax exemption program giving away close to a billion dollars per year to major industrial and petrochemical companies).  Since then, over 400 corporate applications have flooded the system ahead of the program's expiration date at the end of this year -- more than twice as many as before.  Reverend Minerva Camarena Skeith of Central Texas Interfaith/Texas IAF explains to Jon Stewart the impact of state legislation that allows major corporations to siphon off state funding that could otherwise go to public schools.  The Problem with Jon Stewart will air this episode on Friday, October 21st.   --- --- --- Additional background on Texas IAF effort:  Texas' Largest Corporate Welfare Program Is Leaving Companies Flush and School Districts Broke, Texas Observer Huge Corporations are Saving $10 Billion on Texas Taxes, and You're Paying For It, Houston Chronicle  Sapped by Subsidies: 313 Deals Hurt Texas Cities, Dallas Morning News [pdf] No More Hogs at the Trough-Containing Corporate Subsidies in Texas, Nonprofit Quarterly The Unlikely Demise of Texas' Biggest Corporate Tax Break, Texas Observer
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