Project QUEST, the nonprofit workforce development organization created more than a quarter-century ago by the COPS/Metro Alliance, has been awarded a $1 million grant that the organization says will allow it to serve more San Antonians with expanded job training programs.
The award comes from the Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as part of their Communities Thrive Challenge, which awarded $1 million each to 10 organizations across the nation, working to “help low-income and financially insecure people find and retain well-paid, meaningful work, achieve financial security or build economically vibrant neighborhoods.”
San Antonio’s Project QUEST wins national $1 million grant, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
[Excerpt below from Oped by Amanda Gonzales]
In August, my kids went back for another year at Beacon Hill Dual Language Academy in the shadow of a crumbling, vacant school building abandoned 20 years ago. Old pipes stick out of the wall, as if they just sawed the school in half and left it. The windows and doorways are boarded up. This deteriorating building tells our children that they deserve to live in blight.
Last year, an architectural study found that the building was in danger of falling on the playground. San Antonio ISD wisely fenced it off to protect our children. But every day my kids ask, “Mommy, when can we play on the playground?” And every day I answer, “I’m working as I hard as I can to get your playground back.” This is unacceptable. It is time to put kids first.
[Photo Credit: Bonnie Arbittier, Rivard Report]
Victoria Cavazos, of Communities Organized for Public Service Metro Alliance, has a daughter in kindergarten at Beacon Hill Academy. Cavazos said the old building is not only cutting into the children's green space, but as of April, the children haven't been allowed to use the playground.
"The district had an assessment done of the building, and because of the hazard of the building, they put a fence around, not only the perimeter of the building, but it also includes the playground," Cavazos said.
SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the district has no need for the building and it would be extremely expensive to restore. In fact, the district has requested a demolition permit from the city.
"We'd really like to demolish the building to give children the space that they deserve," Cavazos said.
"We've worked with a lot of different people and a lot of groups to try and get that money," said Michelle Ricondo, of COPS Metro Alliance. "But no one has come forward with the money to renovate the building."
[COPS / Metro Alliance] hosted a town hall at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Helotes, and invited Republican and Democrat incumbents and challengers for state and Congressional offices that represent West Bexar County and San Antonio’s south and west sides to attend and publicly state their positions on four issues: restoring Texas public school funding; immigration reform; reining in the “payday lending” industry; and increasing job training and re-training programs for displaced workers and in historically under-served areas....
Mendoza says COPS/Metro Alliance decided to become active in more conservative, affluent suburban communities outside the city's inner and outer freeway loops because emerging economic and social challenges are not defined by geography or political affiliation.
With the 2018 midterm elections less than three weeks away, COPS/Metro Alliance today launches a get-out-the-vote phone banking and canvassing initiative....
[Photo by Morgan Montalvo, WOAI]
COPS and Metro Alliance Spreading Message to the Suburbs, WOAI Radio [pdf]
This fall, the biggest loser of the amendments proposed by the firefighters union will be local democracy. While much of the rhetoric focuses on the city’s AAA bond rating and its capacity to govern, COPS/Metro is primarily concerned about the loss of San Antonio’s democratic capacity.
COPS/Metro — a coalition of congregations, schools and unions working together on behalf of families — asked the city to drop the lawsuit on the evergreen clause and firefighters to drop the petition drive and return to the negotiating table. Neither side moved, and now the residents and voters of San Antonio are caught in the crossfire between “Go Vote No” and “Vote Yes” on the three charter amendments.
At its core, democracy is about negotiation and compromise...
For the first time in city history, the lowest-paid municipal workers are set to begin earning $15 an hour — a major victory for COPS/Metro Alliance, which has been advocating for a living wage for several years.
Scully to Present $2.8 Billion Budget with Flat Tax Rate, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
Early this year, 200 COPS/Metro leaders assembled to fight for the future of Beacon Hill Dual Language Academy. One issue raised by leaders was the restriction of children from access to a playground that had been fenced off because debris from a vacant, crumbling building could potentially hit children. Though the SAISD building had lain vacant for 20 years, with no plans in place for renovation or replacement, COPS / Metro leaders accepted a commitment from a sitting Council Member to identify funding for its renovation.
With a new school year approaching, and no money in sight, leaders are insisting that the building must be removed so that children can be granted access to their playground. The San Antonio Express News agrees, stating:
The desire to preserve what once was is commendable, but in this case it obscures the present...
It’s time to move forward, and let the kids play.
[Photo Credit: Josh Brodesky, Express-News]
It was celebrated as millions in new funding for housing renovation.
Last August, at a time when federal funds for home repairs and renovations for low-income homeowners appeared to be dwindling, the city had “found” $4.7 million to bolster those efforts, tapping unspent federal housing grants. This would be in addition to $1.8 million in new funding. Together, the $6.5 million would repair 81 homes.
But it turns out much of that $4.7 million was already allocated to home repair projects. It might not have been spent, but it also wasn’t available.
“The money was not there,” said Maria Tijerina of COPS/Metro Alliance. “It wasn’t new money. It was old money.”
To the degree possible, the city should apply new funds to home repairs for the upcoming budget — funds that can be spent and honor what COPS/Metro and others thought was happening in August.
[Photo Credit: Carolyn Van Houten / San Antonio Express News]Read more
Immigration was the urgent topic when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS took the stage at COPS/Metro's "A Cry for Justice and a Call to Action" assembly at Our Lady of the Lake University on June 18, 2018. "We live in very challenging times. Basic institutions of justice are being attacked. People are suffering needlessly," the archbishop declared to a packed auditorium. "This is a time of crisis. We have to make a decision. Do we go along with or challenge these trends?"
The assembly, which had been months in the planning, took on an air of urgency and drew a standing-room-only crowd as it coincided with a particularly tense week in the nation's debate on immigration policy. News had just broken of the Trump administration's policy of separating detained children from their parents - a policy Archbishop Gustavo strongly condemned in his speech as "immoral," "evil," and sinful," echoing similar sentiments expressed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops....
After [hearing a challenge by the Bishop and a DACA participant], faith communities caucused in small groups, then they answered... by pledging to collect 11,500 postcards to be mailed to Texas' congressional representatives in Washington. Archbishop Gustavo took the symbolic first step of signing his name on the first postcards, which will be mailed to Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn."
[Image Credit: NOWCastSA footage]
Archbishop Gustavo Urges Action on Immigration at COPS / Metro Assembly, Today's Catholic
As part of an ongoing campaign to increase funding for owner-occupied housing rehab and affordable housing, COPS/Metro has gotten involved in the City of San Antonio's Affordable Housing Taskforce.
Andy Sarabia, a founding member of COPS/Metro Alliance, encouraged attendees Saturday to rally support for recommendations by sharing their sentiments with their local elected leaders and City Manager Sheryl Sculley.
“I urge you to contact your Council person to get behind this,” he said. “We’ve got the mayor, who seems to be behind this, but do not forget the city manager. The city manager has a big say in all this. Together, we can put this over the top.”
[In photo, Sr. Gabriela Lohan speaks with Mayor. Photo Credit: Edmond Ortiz, Rivard Report]
Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force Reveals Recommendations, Rivard Report