THE GOLD STANDARD
Established in 1982 and thriving ever since Baltimoreans United for Leadership Development (BUILD) is no ordinary organization of organizations. Under the leadership of the great Rev Vernon Dobson and Lead Organizer Arnie Graf, BUILD has delivered for Baltimore families historically cut out and shut out of decision making.
East Brooklyn Congregations
(EBC) Brooklyn, New York
EBC launched in 1980. After building an institutional infrastructure and investing heavily in leadership training, EBC began an assault on what were then considered intractable urban problems that included burned out neighborhoods and failing schools. The stunning success of the Nehemiah Homes project conceived and developed through a series of hard fought battles with less imaginative local officials established the gold standard of urban transformation. Led by the Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood and IAF organizer Michael Gecan, EBC re-imagined what city neighborhoods could be and has continued int that mode ever since.
Pima County Interfaith
(PCI) Tucson, AZ
As Pima County Interfaith Council grew from a handful of congregations in the spring of 1990 into what local media described as a "grassroots goliath", IAF in the Southwest proved that powerful, innovative organizations could be built and sustained outside of the Texas base. The "Child Friendly City" initiative pioneered by PCIC changed in lasting ways how Metropolitan Tucson responded to pressures on families. JobPath has trained thousands of individuals for high wage jobs. School and infrastructure improvement have happened because of PCIC.
In the history of broad based organizing no state network of locally grounded organizations has consistently impacted public life like the Texas IAF. TIAF has innovated and sustained initiatives that cover the waterfront of constructive community impact. Workforce development, infrastructure, school improvement, higher education partnership, health care, housing. Wherever families are under pressure in Texas the Texas IAF through its locals has been and continues to be there.
C.O.P.S./The Metro Alliance
San Antonio, Texas
The San Antonio of the early 1970's functioned as a big city oligarchy. A small group of the powerful - epitomized by the Cavaliers - made policy in their own interests often to the detriment of everybody else. A racial divide, between Latinos and Anglos, permeated community life.
Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) and sister organization Metro Alliance positively transformed all aspects of life in the city including politics, economics, education, health care, housing and infrastructure. First conceived and agitated into being by San Antonio native Ernesto Cortes, Jr, COPS/Metro is the gold standard of broad based community organization in the United States.
Greater Boston Interfaith Organization
(GBIO) Greater Boston, MA
GBIO was founded by a group of 45 clergy and community leaders who began meeting in 1996. What motivated this founding group to begin building GBIO was a common desire to transcend the historic divisions in Boston that existed between neighborhoods, particularly around race and class issues.
The founding group raised seed money from ten different religious denominations and the first staff organizer, Jim Drake, was hired in 1997. In 1998, GBIO held its founding assembly with 4000 people from across Greater Boston. This watershed event was the largest and most diverse meeting held in Boston in the past 25 years.
Chicago is the birthplace of community organizing. United Power for Action and Justice is the latest IAF creation that spans the region. Its size and scope is commensurate with the challenge of building power to address the entrenched machine politics perfected by Mayor Richard Daley now fronted by Rahm Emmanuel and of course that other child of the Daley apparatus, President Barack Obama.
Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Valley Interfaith grew and thrived in the face of ideological opposition in the churches that formed its base. Confronting communities that lacked water and sewer - the colonias - Valley Interfaith organized their way to national colonia legislation that changed for the better the lives of tens of thousands of families living along the Texas/Mexico border. More significantly the organization has gone on improve all facets of life in the region including schooling, health care, wages and benefits and infrastructure. This short video captures the grassroots spirit of the IAF work in the Rio Grande Valley: "Power Is Not a Dirty Word"