Austin Interfaith “Let justice pour down like waters”….Amos 5:24 1301 S. IH 35, Suite 313 Austin, Texas 78741 Phone (512) 916-0100 Fax (512) 916-0251 December 30, 2009 Dear Austin Interfaith Clergy, Leaders, and Supporters: We wish you and your families a Happy New Year as we enter 2010. We especially want to recognize all the hard work that you have done to make 2009 an important and successful year for Austin Interfaith. In 2009, our organization along with the Texas IAF sister organizations, worked with Comptroller Susan Combs to create and pass the $10 million JET Fund for successful long term job training programs. Capital IDEA received two of the first JET funds this fall…$500,000 for the Austin area and $250,000 to start a satellite of Capital IDEA in collaboration with our sister organization TMO in Houston. The collaboration of Austin Interfaith congregations and schools was featured in a landmark study by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. In the first nationwide study to measure the impact of education organizing, Austin Interfaith’s work in AISD schools was shown to have a dramatic impact on test scores, professional culture, parent-teacher collaboration, and resources for all low income schools. Their final conclusion was that all low-income schools in AISD benefited from the programs and resources created by Austin Interfaith. As you can see from the list of accomplishments in this letter, in 2009 Austin Interfaith with an organizational budget of under $250,000, leveraged $18million in funding for original programs it has created through its organizing. That is a return of 72 to 1 for programs like ESL, Prime Time After School Program, water infrastructure at Santa Barbara Catholic Church, the Summer Youth Employment Program and Capital IDEA. This does not include our advocacy for existing programs and initiatives like CHIP, AISD employee compensation, and statewide funding for schools. Austin Interfaith itself does not accept public money, and is funded primarily through institutional member dues, corporate investment, and foundation support. Austin Interfaith also held a successful Economic Summit with the Central Texas Business Community in February, as well as an Accountability Session in April which again was the largest event of the municipal election season. This work, and the resulting accomplishments, was the result of hundreds of one-on-one relational meetings, house meetings, research actions, training sessions, civic academies, and meetings with public officials. Two issues have come to the forefront in 2009 and will be major initiatives in 2010. Austin Interfaith has begun an intensive collaboration on immigration organizing with the Catholic Diocese of Austin. This is in response to increasing political pressure on immigrant families trying to work and live in Central Texas. Additionally, the issue of Living Wages is at the center of our work given the economic situation and growing inequality in Austin. Specifically, Austin Interfaith is working to hold the Mayor and all City Council members to their pre-election commitments that companies receiving public tax subsidies to move to Austin must provide jobs that pay living wages of $18/hr with benefits, a career track, and have a strategy to hire locally. Again, we wish to recognize your investment in Austin Interfaith, in terms of your institution’s leadership development, financial investment, and time. Obviously this commitment has paid off for Austin and the Central Texas region as a whole. But renewing our commitment to this work is more important now than ever. Austin has a poverty rate, child poverty rate, and uninsured rate that is higher than the national average. Travis County has the fifth highest inequality in the country. And although we have worked with Santa Barbara Catholic Church to raise over $600,000 in public and private investment in water infrastructure, over 30 families are still without running water because of government delays. We must continue to challenge ourselves to have the imagination, perseverance, and tenacity to organize effectively for the families in our communities. This happens through in an investment in leadership and an investment in people. We look forward to continuing this important work together in 2010. Please put on your calendar the following two important events coming up in the New Year: 1. On Saturday, January 9th 2010 the TX IAF will hold an Economic Conference in San Antonio starting at 10am and ending at 3pm. (Leaders will be traveling down on a bus. Please check with the Austin Interfaith office for further information) 2. On Tuesday, February 23rd at 7pm Austin Interfaith will hold its delegates assembly. Location to be announced. Again, congratulations on organizing effectively for all families in Central Texas. Sincerely, Austin Interfaith Executive Team
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