In an essay for The New York Times last November, Pope Francis exhorted us to “dare to create something new.” With the coronavirus pandemic reaching new heights, he challenged us to reject a strain of selfishness fed by a distorted ideology of personal freedom.
For this reason, the primary audience for Let Us Dream includes ordinary citizens and the institutions in which they organize. The book was written in collaboration with Austen Ivereigh, who previously worked with Citizens UK—which is a sister organization of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the largest and longest-operating community organizing coalition in the United States....The “inclusive populism” of community organizing is a practical embodiment of Pope Francis’ vision.
In Let Us Dream, Francis urges the church to be more receptive to such popular alliances—accompanying them both practically and spiritually, without seeking to dominate. He identifies “labor” and “lodgings” as two of the key issues for grass-roots action. The success of the I.A.F.’s Living Wage campaigns, and its renewal of whole neighborhoods in New York and Baltimore through the Nehemiah Housing program, demonstrates the power of institution-based organizing. If parishes and dioceses heed the pope’s call to engage with new vigor in this work, it can play a significant role in the civic renewal that is so urgently needed.
Pope Francis has Criticized Both the Left and the Right’s Politics. Community Organizing Offers a Third Way, America, The Jesuit Review [pdf]
In September 2023, 900 children at South Lake and 600 children at Burnt Mills Elementary Schools will walk through the doors of new, safe, and welcoming buildings, heads held high and proud. 1500 children who have usually been left behind because they are Black, brown, and immigrants. Their teachers will be able to teach in classrooms without leaking ceilings, without cleaning rodent droppings, without overcrowding in a sea of trailer classrooms.
Over the past 10 years, Montgomery County has invested more capital dollars in the wealthiest district- Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac- than any other district. Action in Montgomery's congregations and public schools fought together over the past two years to ensure that the children of South Lake and Burnt Mills were not once again neglected. Hundreds of parents and AIM congregations worked for over two years to tell the story of a dilapidated structure that wasn't good enough. They successfully got South Lake and Burnt Mills prioritized by the Superintendent and the Board of Education in the fall of 2019 only to have the County Council renege on their commitment to AIM. In May 2020, the Council voted unanimously to delay South Lake because of COVID even while other schools in wealthy districts remained on schedule.Read more
GCC's dogged persistence pays off as Cuyahoga County announces contract with the ADAHMS Board for Oriana House to operate and house a crisis diversion center
Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC), the largest community power organization in Northeast Ohio, has claimed victory in its efforts to make a much-needed offsite (separate from any jail or prison facility) pre-booking mental health and addiction crisis diversion center a reality in Cuyahoga County as the County announced it has contracted with the ADAHMS Board for Oriana House to operate and house a diversion center on Cleveland’s East Side.
The creation of a crisis diversion center has been a top priority for GCC over the past three years, culminating in an action last February attended by over 1,000 of its supporters where key public officials pledged their support for such a facility.
“This announcement is a win for our community, one we have been working for quite some time,” said the Reverend Jawanza Colvin, pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland. “We know that diversion centers are critical to transforming criminal justice. By directing mentally ill and addicted individuals toward treatment first we are one step closer to fixing a broken system.”Read more
A trio of sales tax measures to train San Antonio workers for new jobs, expand public transit and renew the city’s early childhood education program were passing by an overwhelming margin with a majority of the vote counted Tuesday night.
The workforce and VIA ballot measures had little organized opposition while the forces in favor had the backing of business leaders, heads of chambers of commerce and grassroots organization COPS/Metro. The two campaigns, plus the third to renew Pre-K 4 SA, spent more than $1.7 million to convince voters to pass all three measures.
The workforce proposal was COPS/Metro’s baby. The organization — which founded the workforce development program Project Quest more than 25 years ago — pushed City Council earlier this year to pump $75 million into workforce development as part of a $191 stimulus package and later put their weight behind the ballot measure.Read more
On Friday, Governor Newsom signed into law an expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to include ALL Californians, regardless of immigration status.
While the June budget deal initially limited an expansion of eligibility to immigrants with young children, this latest decision will extend the credit -- year after year -- to cover 2 million undocumented immigrants.
California IAF leaders have been organizing since March to find relief for immigrant workers who have been disproportionately impacted by the health and economic fallout of Covid-19.
“What we have been pressing for is justice for essential workers, not charity,” said Fr. Arturo Corral, Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles. “It cannot be disputed that immigrant workers are bearing the brunt of pandemic-related health risks in order to keep all our boats afloat. We could not provide food for our families without their labor. They pay billions in local and state taxes, and they contribute over 180 billion dollars to our economy. And they have been ruthlessly left out of federal relief."Read more
Working Together Jackson interfaith leaders stood on the steps of the Catholic cathedral in downtown Jackson Thursday morning, calling for the immediate removal of the Mississippi state flag.
In a resounding a voice, they said any discussion of what design should replace the current flag must not impede the current goal: Taking down a flag associated with white supremacy.
"Anything is better than what we've got now," said Bishop Ronnie Crudup of New Horizon Church International.
People have been protesting for racial justice in Mississippi and across the nation this month at levels not seen since the civil rights movement more than 50 years ago.Read more
GBIO Leaders and Coalition Partners Carry a “Check” to the State House for the money saved by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, totaling $71 million per year.
The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), along with partners in the Massachusetts Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition, scored its first win in its 2019-2020 health care legislative campaign. Language passed as part of the 2020 budget gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to develop a proposed value of a drug as well as have a public hearing if MassHealth (Massachusetts’ Medicaid agency) cannot agree with the drug manufacturer on a fair price. Using this negotiating leverage will lower the state’s prescription drug costs, which have doubled over the last five years. This will save the State of MA $71 Million per year in the annual MassHealth budget.
To make their voices heard, GBIO members gathered alongside members of coalition partner organizations at a Health Care Action Day at the State House. Leaders met with legislators and staff, demanding the strongest legislation possible to fight back against the doubling of prescription drug costs for MassHealth over the last five years.Read more
On September 19, the judge supervising Metro IAF NY’s mold focused federal court consent decree with NYCHA agreed to appoint our choice of an Ombudsperson, Cesar De Castro. Mr. De Castro will have the power to force NYCHA to properly fix mold and leaks hire independent contractors at NYCHA’s expense when they fail to do so. This will begin in the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem and rolling out citywide as soon as possible. Tenants will finally have an ally with court backed authority who can hold NYCHA accountable.
This came from years of work by Metro IAF’s public housing leaders to highlight the fact that most tenants still have seen no real improvement in mold remediation and the push for change. Most recently, on 9/13/19, we held a press conference with Council Member Ritchie Torres outside of the Federal Courthouse where we called for the appointment of the ombudsman and for NYCHA to immediately spend the $50 million in ventilation repair funds that we pushed them to allocate.Read more
Over 600 Durham CAN leaders packed the sanctuary of Monument of Faith Church to declare Durham a living wage city. CAN leaders demanded and won impressive commitments on living wages, ban-the-box, local hiring, and job training.
The Chair of the Durham Housing Authority committed to ensure all jobs required to renovate its properties, a $566 million project, will go up from $12.69 to $15/hour within the next two years. All contractors will also be required to pay at least $15 per hour. The priority will be to hire its own residents. Mayor Steve Schewel promised to ensure all jobs generated under his $95 million bond referendum proposal and the Beltline Project will pay at least $15. The Mayor promised the city will work with Durham Technical Community College to ensure the training and hiring of local workers. Leaders from Go Triangle ratified their commitment to pay $15 for most of their jobs.Read more
WIN organized immigrants and allies in DC to push for $2.5 million in city funding to go toward immigrants' legal services. Mayor Bowser hosted budget engagement forums throughout February, and WIN partnered with legal service providers to turn out nearly 200 people to support the funding. In her State of the District address, Mayor Bowser announced that she would raise the funding from $900,000 to $2.5 million.