"More than 400 St. Thomas More parishioners and community members participated in the St. Thomas More Parish Assembly on December 4 to grow parish leadership and respond to the needs of the community.
The event organized with COPS/Metro was part of a worldwide call from Pope Francis to “journey together” through a synod process. Participants shared struggles like neighborhood crime, isolation, and living without a place to call “home,” and leaders called on those present to transform the church and act on their responsibility for all people within their parish boundaries.
Leaders held conversations over eight months with more than 250 parishioners, teachers, youth, and others around questions like “how do we ‘journey together’ and how can we better ‘journey together’ in the future?” and “how did the pandemic affect you and your family?”"
[Photo Credit: Today's Catholic]
A delegation of 20 leaders and organizers from the West Southwest IAF, including COPS/Metro Leaders Rose Garcia, of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sr. Pearl Cesar, CDP and Lead Organizer Josephine Lopez Paul, met with His Holiness to share our collective work of broad based organizing.
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 organizing work, and the work of the Church, past, present, and future.Read more
[Excerpt from San Antonio Report]
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh heaped praise on San Antonio’s city government for its expansive workforce development program, often called the largest of its kind in the country. He said he wishes the federal government could do more.
At a roundtable discussion with local industry leaders and city officials Monday, Walsh called SA Ready to Work — the city’s $230 million program aiming to train thousands of low-wage workers for middle-class careers over the next five years — innovative and exemplary for its heavy collaboration with industry leaders.....
SA Ready to Work opened for enrollment in May, though many pre-registered. In the nearly four months since then, slightly more than 5,400 applicants have signed up — nearly fulfilling what the city anticipated to be enrollment through its entire first year.
[Photo Credit: Alamo Colleges]
San Antonio’s Ready to Work Jobs Training Program Gets the National Attention Leaders Have Sought, San Antonio Express News [pdf]
Labor Secretary Would Like to See Bigger Federal Investments in Ready to Work, San Antonio Report [pdf]
U.S. Secretary of Labor visits the Alamo Colleges District, Alamo Colleges District [pdf]
Virginia Mata, Sonia Rodriguez and Mike Phillips -- all key leaders with COPS/Metro -- make their argument:
In 2020, COPS/Metro proposed the concept to city of San Antonio officials of a locally funded workforce development program using redirected existing dedicated taxes, then conducted a massive get-out-the-vote campaign in support. The residents of San Antonio responded with a resounding 77 percent voter approval. With the passage of this initiative, our city officials were given a golden opportunity to change the decades-long economic narrative from that of a low-wage town to a high-skill, high-wage city.
[Photo Credit: Josie Norris, San Antonio Express News]
Commentary: SA Ready to Work Should be Guaranteeing $20 Per Hour, San Antonio Express News [pdf]
When the pandemic precipitated a massive unemployment crisis in 2020, COPS/Metro immediately pushed the City Council to pump $75 Million into support of displaced workers as they trained for higher paying jobs.
Leaders then engineered SA Ready to Work as a ballot initiaitve to help 15,000 more residents over the next five years, leading the San Antonio Express-News to call the workforce proposal "COPS/Metro’s baby." That fall, COPS/Metro leaders educated and delivered more than 50,000 voters to the polls, and Prop B passed with 77% support.
Even as they celebrate the launch, leaders continue to call on employers to raise the minimum wage standard for new graduates.
[Excerpts from San Antonio Report]
San Antonio’s new jobs training and placement program officially launched Monday, opening enrollment to what city leaders hope will help thousands of residents develop lifelong career skills that should immediately lead to good-paying jobs.
SA Ready to Work, a $230 million five-year program...has been cast by advocates as a monumental anti-poverty effort in the wake of the pandemic’s economic shocks that could serve as a role model for cities across the country....
COPS/Metro — a grassroots coalition of congregations, schools and unions that has long advocated for anti-poverty measures and campaigned aggressively for the program’s approval — plans to host around 500 house meetings to encourage residents to enroll in the program. Some have already occurred, said Isaiah Banta, an organizer with the group.
[Photo Credit: Scott Ball, San Antonio Report]
Massive City Job Programs Launched, Open for Enrollment, San Antonio Report [pdf]
As Historic Jobs Program Rolls Out in San Antonio, Do We Still Need It?, Texas Public Radio [pdf]
San Antonio's Ready to Work Job Training Program Begins Taking First Applicants, Texas Public Radio
The book includes critical assessments of the status of Mexican Americans, none as important, in my judgment, as the emergence of “a professional and academic voice” among Latinos and the rise of major institutions to advocate for Mexican Americans and defend their rights.
Many of those institutions were born in San Antonio, including...COPS Metro, which has trained generations of community activists.
[Photo Credit: Matthew Busch, San Antonio Express-News]
Texas IAF Calls On State Comptroller to Abandon Plan to Gut Chapter 313 Subsidy Accountability Requirements
"Lawmakers have ordered Comptroller Glenn Hegar to wrap up Texas’s biggest corporate tax break program, but he wants to give companies one last gift: an end to public accountability.
Activists, corporate relocation specialists and lawmakers are scrambling to comment on Hegar’s proposal that companies no longer report key data about their progress toward meeting the terms of their property tax abatement agreements.
Interfaith groups that fought the corporate giveaway that hurts Texas children demanded Hegar roll back his plan on Wednesday.
“What is the benefit of less accountability and less transparency?” San Antonio state Senator José Menéndez asked at a Texas Industrial Areas Foundation press conference. “The taxpayer should know how their money is going to be used and what they are getting in exchange.”
[Photo Credit: Mark Mulligan, San Antonio Express News]
Texas Comptroller Proposes Covering Up Corporate Welfare Program, The Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Taylor: The Chapter 313 Monster — the Mother of All Corporate Welfare — Revives?, San Antonio Express News [pdf]
Everyone in San Antonio knows about flash floods—“Turn Around, Don’t Drown” signs are familiar on certain roads. But in the West Side, a neighborhood established by Mexican Americans who were restricted from more resourced neighborhoods north of downtown, floods were far more commonplace.
“I remember as kids getting pulled out of the [family] station wagon [that almost got swept away],” Mata said. “We were at the time like five or six, I think. But yeah, we didn’t know that was not normal.”
Mata says when you grow up experiencing poverty, “you accept it, normalize it, and blame yourself for it.” What seems normal at the time becomes absurd when you reflect back on it as an adult.
Mata speaks softly and with a kind of wisdom that comes from navigating barriers early in life.....
Mata is retired from two careers—one in federal law enforcement, and another as a lietenant [sic] commander in the Navy Reserves. Nowadays, she spends a lot of her time with COPS/Metro, a community organizing coalition that gathers people from churches, schools, businesses and unions to represent the needs of families and children. Over the last year, Mata and her COPS/Metro partners have spurred the City of San Antonio to create and invest in a workforce training program designed to support people seeking higher-paying jobs.
The coalition’s first fight, all those decades ago? Demanding that the city fix the West Side’s drainage issues.
Mata’s story is coming full circle....
[Photo Credit: Echoes]
City staff has moved at breakneck speed by self-imposing a timeline that does not consider their need to learn more broadly what works and what does not work. This massive initiative needs a true champion to lead it now. COPS/Metro calls on Mayor Ron Nirenberg to be that champion. He is the person who can halt the drive to mediocrity and invest first in building a strong foundation for a workforce system that can deliver on the promise made to voters last year. That is why he was elected. San Antonio deserves nothing less.
Commentary: Halt Job Program's Slide Into Mediocrity, San Antonio Express News