Texas IAF Underscores Lasting Consequences of Chapter 313 Subsidies
"In December, legislators killed a controversial tax abatement program known as Chapter 313, but its effects will last decades....
“There’s no accountability at the statewide level; nobody administers it,” said Bob Fleming, an organizer with [T]he Metropolitan Organization of Houston who campaigned against Chapter 313 reauthorization back in 2021. “A bunch of local school districts make singular decisions based on what they think is in their interest. Nobody is looking out for the statewide interest. Local school districts are overmatched when the $2,000 suits walk into the room.” ....
“It’s a perverse incentive,” said Doug Greco, lead organizer at Central Texas Interfaith, one of the organizations that helped shut down reauthorization of Chapter 313 in the 2021 legislative session.
“We approach it on a school funding basis,” said Greco, who is already gearing up to fight any Chapter 313 renewal efforts in 2023. “It’s corporate welfare and the people who pay over time are Texas school districts.” ....
“The district my granddaughter goes to is losing $4 million to $5 million every year,” said Rosalie Tristan, referring to Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District. Tristan is an organizer with the community organization Valley Interfaith who lives north of McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley.
“They could be using that money to get more teachers for these students,” she said. “For a parent, or for a grandparent raising her granddaughter, it’s a hit in the gut.”
[Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang, The Texas Tribune]
Critics Say State Tax Break Helps Petrochemical Companies and Hurts Public Schools, The Texas Tribune [pdf]
National Gathering of Ministers Features COPS/Metro Collaboration w/San Antonio Archdiocese
At a national gathering of Catholic Social Ministers organized by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), COPS/Metro's work with San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller was featured prominently in plenary sessions and a workshop around local organizing for gun safety reform.
During a panel discussion with the Archbishop, Josephine Lopez-Paul shared how COPS/Metro worked with the San Antonio Archdiocese in the aftermath of the massacre at Uvalde in 2022. The Archbishop made an impassioned plea to infuse love into a "culture of death" through faithful participation in the political process around issues impacting life, including gun safety reforms.
During the discussion, Archbishop García-Siller asserted that synodality could be renewed path for the Church to address the new realities people are living.
"The Eucharist that brings solidarity, through synodality, might be the new way of being Church."
According to the Catholic Review, members in the audience were visibly moved. COPS/Metro organizers and leaders also shared stories of local organizing efforts around gun safety including conversation campaigns leading to an initiative to restrict access to firearms for perpetrators of domestic violence in San Antonio.
2023 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering A ‘Sign Of Faith, Hope And Love Coming Alive’, Our Sunday Visitor [pdf]
Groups Must Infuse Love Into a Culture of Gun Violence, Say Panelists, Today's Catholic
The Day Pope Francis Welcomed West/Southwest IAF Community Organizers to His Home
We were an interfaith group of 20 lay leaders, clergy and professional organizers from the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation, a representation of a decades-long tradition of community organizing in the United States, of which Catholic communities and parishes have played a major role. Parish-based organizing began in earnest with the founding of Communities Organized for Public Service [COPS/Metro] in San Antonio 50 years ago.
National Catholic Reporter Spotlights IAF Assistance with Synod Process
When Pope Francis launched his newly invigorated process for the Synod of Bishops in 2021, he challenged Catholics worldwide to "become experts in the art of encounter," saying it was "time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers."
For decades, members of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a network of local faith and community-based organizations, have in many ways been experts in such an art, most often to empower marginalized communities.
St. Thomas More Synod Leads to Parish Assembly Drawing 400 Parishioners
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.
Pope Francis meets with COPS/Metro
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.
Ready to Work SA Earns Its Hype
[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.
Outpacing both contractors so far is Project Quest, the jobs training nonprofit that (like SA Ready to Work) sprang out of COPS/Metro. Project Quest is managing the cases of 112 participants.
[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]
SA Ready to Work Should Guarantee $20 an Hour
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]
Historic SA Ready to Work Program Launches with COPS/Metro Support
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