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Issues & Victories

Education and Youth



LCU Acknowledged for Increasing Access to Quality Education

LEARN President and CEO, Greg White, formally acknowledge and thanked Lake County United (LCU) for their role in laying the ground work for community support that led to the authorization of LEARN 9 in Waukegan IL.  LEARN Charter Network has 10 schools with 4,100 students (88% are low-income).  Each of the established schools exceed state standards.



BUILD Secures $70 million Commitment for Baltimore City Schools Funding Gap

In alliance with principals and schools across the City, BUILD won an additional commitment of $10 million in funding, bringing the total to $70 million BUILD has organized to close the $130 million gap in school funding.

Baltimore City Council President Jack Young, along with 11 other city council representatives, announced the additional commitment of $10 million at a BUILD and Baltimoreans for Educational Equity action of 900 parents, teachers and principals. The week prior, BUILD stood with principals of 50 city schools along with teachers and parents in actions outside City Hall and at the next night’s school board meeting to demand that all parties negotiate a solution to completely close the gap over the next 3 years until the next funding formula change. From this organized pressure, BUILD also helped influence the Mayor and State Legislature to secure an additional $60 million in city and state funding to help fix the gap.

 

Media coverage:  http://www.wbaltv.com/article/students-teachers-lawmakers-rally-for-city-school-funding/9161367.




Action In Montgomery (AIM) Wins Quality, Affordable After School Program for Low-Income Students

240 elementary school students are now drumming, dancing, cooking, playing basketball, doing academics, and getting a hot dinner every day after school thanks to AIM! The Dream Academy Program is modeled after Child First Authority, an after school program created by Metro IAF affiliate BUILD, and organizes parents to be engaged in their school and community, and to win quality after school programming in the lowest income schools in Montgomery County MD.

AIM started organizing two years ago when parents and school staff said over and over that quality, affordable after school programming was non-existent for low-income students and was contributing to the opportunity and achievement gap for students of color and low-income students. The program provides an hour of recreation and an hour of academics to students four days a week.

AIM is working to expand the program to four additional schools in 2018.



BUILD wins $1.1 billion to construct new schools in Baltimore

 

On May 21 2013, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the Baltimore City School Construction and Revitalization Act of 2013, authorizing more than $1 billion for school construction and renovationthe single largest investment in Baltimore’s neighborhoods in more than 30 years. The effort to overhaul the city’s public school facilities will result in 15 new schools and more than 30 renovated schools across the city.  Nearly 140 of Baltimore city’s 162 school facilities are in poor or very poor condition, and although the district has made significant gains in enrollment and graduation rates over the last several years, Baltimore still lags behind the rest of the state. BUILD is committed that addressing the building needs will be a catalyst for education reforms to ensure Baltimore’s children achieve the highest expectations.

Through the Baltimore Education Coalition, BUILD helped unite the City and State to act on one goal: build schools, build Baltimore. As Michael Sarbanes, Executive Director of the Baltimore City Schools Office of Engagement, explains, “...but for BUILD the $1.1 billion could not have happened. But for your hard work, your willingness to stand up strong and move quickly, your network of relationships, your understanding of how to get things done, and above all your commitment to what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now” and to the principle that, “the children come first.” It bears saying again—renovating schools is the single biggest investment in our neighborhoods and our children in Baltimore’s history.”



Greater Cleveland Congregations wins $80 million levy for Cleveland Metropolitan School District

Greater Cleveland Congregations helped to pass a $80 million school levy in Cleveland -- a campaign that involved intense voter mobilization in battleground Ohio involving 60+ volunteers who called, canvassed, campaigned, drove, knocked, and dragged on Election Day, 100+ volunteers who participated in phone banks over the past week, and 250+ volunteers who collected over 5,000 voter registrations and knocked on over 10,000 doors speaking face-to-face with nearly 2,500 voters about the importance of the levy (not to mention the thousands of conversations with family, friends, neighbors, co-parishioners, strangers on the street....).



BUILD wins $155 million for school construction in Baltimore

Working alongside partners Transform Baltimore, the Baltimore Education Coalition and Child First, on Monday, June 10 BUILD won passage of a new bottle tax to be dedicated to school construction. This was a long, hard battle for Baltimorechildren. The bottle tax alone will generate $10 million a year that will service $155 million in bond funding, which will be used in 2013 to start building and modernizing at least 10 elementary schools while creating 1200 new jobs. With the Mayor's existing city funding and future slots revenue, this will generate $300 million in total school construction funding. This is a significant down payment on fighting for the $2.8 billion needed now to build new and modernize all of Baltimore schools. 

Next, BUILD will unite the Mayor, the City Council, the Corporate Community, the bottlers and all of Baltimore to stand with our children and demand that the State and City invest in delivering $2.8 billion to rebuild Baltimore schools and generate thousands of jobs.  BUILD and its allies will meet with the bottle industry to launch a Buy Baltimore - 5 cents for our Kids Campaign, encouraging all of us to continue to buy beverages in the City of Baltimore to support local businesses and school construction. 



Child First serves over 1400 students across Baltimore.

BUILD recognized a need for after-school programs and more parental involvement, so we created the Child First program, today an independent entity that serves 1,400 youth.

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EQUAL launches a new charter school in South East Queens, NY.

In 2010, EQUAL launched the Rochdale Early Advantage Charter School (REACS), the only charter school in a neighborhood with few quality school choices.  The school will provide 110 kindergarten, first and second grade students an excellent education, and will eventually expand to serve 235 students.  EQUAL leaders are working to secure a new building, which will be needed as the school grows.




South Bronx Churches builds a brand new multi-school campus.

South Bronx Churches,  a coalition of neighborhood congregations, nonprofit agencies and tenant and homeowner groups, imagined and organized for a modern four-school campus at Mott Haven, now serving over 2000 children with a world-class education in some of the nation's top educational facilities. The new schools campus opened its doors in September 2010 on a seven-acre site at East 153rd Street and Concourse Village West. The $250 million project is the single largest school construction plan in the history of New York City. 

 

 




BUILD restores $18 million in education funding for Baltimore schools.

 BUILD organized with MD IAF and the Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC) to restore $18 million in state funding for Baltimore schools and $94 million state-wide. BUILD joined BEC to meet with legislators in Annapolis, testify at hearings, make phone calls and emails, and helped turnout 2000 parents, students, and teachers on a rainy night to call for restoring the cuts. 




Lake County United launches "Waukegan to College"

Lake County United researched, developed and launched Waukegan to College, an intensive family-focused college readiness program in 2009.  This fall the program has grown to 52 students from 30 families, with 10 students now in college.  With guidance from a 12 member planning team, we have completed a strategic plan for Waukegan to College and will begin recruiting a board of directors to oversee the program as it spins off into its own stand alone non-profit roughly one year from now.

In the News


LI-CAN Launches Opioid Fight

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Long Island Congregations and Neighborhoods
 

1300 people jammed a high school gym on Long Island on April 26 to launch LI-CAN's campaign on the opioid crisis.  Concrete pledges of action were made by 23 congregations, 6 public school districts, and 207 high school students as part of LI-CAN's Covenant to End the Opioid Epidemic.  At its next major event, in October, LI-CAN will ask corporate and political leaders to make specific contributions to help end an epidemic that claimed 493 lives on Long Island in 2016.  Days after the event, LI-CAN leaders stood with Sen. Charles Schumer to applaud Schumer’s push for new federal legislation to help stem the flow of deadly fentanyl into the U.S.

 
 

Manhattan Together & South Bronx Churches: Fighting for a Better Special Education Data System in NYC

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
MT & SBC

On March 19th, over 400 Manhattan Together (MT) and South Bronx Churches (SBC) leaders gathered with New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer to push the City Government for action to improve their broken Special Education data system and to push for more repairs in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartments. The Comptroller also promised to work together to expand programs for children with Autism and ensure new potential funding for NYCHA is paired with accountability to make sure the money helps tenants.  

New leaders also presented the organizations' campaigns on immigration and homelessness. So far in 2017, MT and SBC have held two legal clinics and four know your rights sessions, connecting with over 500 immigrants and their families. New immigrant leaders who have come forward through these sessions are helping to shape our April 30th Action with NYPD Commissioner O'Neill and work beyond that.

The Assembly was covered by the New York Daily News, 1010 Wins, and The Villager.


GBIO's Work Helps Launch New STEM Academy

Thursday, April 3, 2014
The Boston Globe

For the first time in more than a decade, Boston is about to embark on constructing a school, potentially kicking off a new era for a school system that has long struggled to bring projects to fruition.

...It took an incredible amount of tenacity for the Dearborn and its supporters, including the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and the Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Square, to make their dream a reality. The project has evolved from a renovation to an entirely new building and is credited for helping save a school on the brink of closure.

At one monumental meeting in April 2010 that drew hundreds, organizers called in the mayor, superintendent, head of the school building authority, and the state treasurer to make commitments to the new school. Two years later, when the project was waning once again, organizers pressed the officials to promise a groundbreaking by spring 2014.

“This is very exciting and concrete and people understand we are moving along,” said the Rev. Liz Walker, pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church. “People who have not known how to trust are learning now to trust promises and their own potential.”

 


Amid Debate Over Pre-K, Kindergarten Could Be Lost

Thursday, February 20, 2014
CityandStateNY.com

As anybody who reads local papers knows, there is an important political contest taking place in New York politics. The mayor and governor are arguing how to fund a full expansion to universal pre-kindergarten (UPK). Each side is holding firm, making moves, counter moves. The resolution of this conflict is important, not just for the game of politics between New York’s governor and New York City’s mayor, but for the future of all of New York State’s children. While we are waiting for this game of thrones to continue, it’s important to pose two questions to the state’s key players in this debate that remain, in our mind, unanswered.

The first is for Governor Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Silver. While the mayor and governor are focused on a universal full-day pre-k plan, the governor and Legislature have failed to plug another hole: protecting access in the state to kindergarten. That’s right. New York State is one of only eight states in the nation that does not guarantee kindergarten to all of its families. When districts’ budgets get tight, as they did two years ago, school districts in lower income communities all across the state consider cutting back to half-day kindergarten. Some did, and some threatened to eliminate kindergarten all together. With costs rising and revenues shrinking, the temptation to reduce or eliminate kindergarten will only grow.


School facilities bill grew from grass roots

Monday, May 20, 2013
Baltimore Sun

 

Michael Dresser got it right in describing the trajectory of the Baltimore school facilities bill as going from "non-starter to law," but the story goes far beyond the elected and appointed officials who worked hard to make the deals and shepherd the legislation to passage ("City schools bill a political showpiece," May 17).

The deeper story must include the herculean efforts of the Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC), the innovative policy advocacy work done by the ACLU of Maryland and the powerful community organizing of groups like BUILD and Child First. Our elected officials don't do this by themselves. They were propelled to act by the incredible urgency and public will created by the BEC. BEC made the problem of broken-down, substandard schools real, laid out a vision for a solution and created the imperative so elected officials had to act.


Promises to keep: Seven mayoral candidates make school reform pledges, and many are underwhelming

Sunday, March 3, 2013
New York Daily News

At the mayoral forum sponsored last week by the Daily News and the Metro IAF citizens organization, Bill Thompson got to the heart of why we pressed the candidates to detail plans for the schools. He asked: “What defines success, not just in four years, each year. The chancellor and mayor need to be held accountable for that. We need to put that forward.” With very mixed success, the seven-member field attempted to accomplish that goal in front of an audience of about 1,000 New Yorkers gathered at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue.


Supporters of Cleveland Schools levy rally voters ahead of November election

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
ABC News Channel 5

CLEVELAND - Supporters of the levy for Cleveland Public Schools are warning against laying off teachers, and a potential $50 million deficit. Over the weekend in an east side church basement, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers and concerned citizens met up for a voter registration drive. This group is part a coalition of local churches, synagogues and mosques in Cleveland trying to get voters to pass the Cleveland Municipal School District's levy on the November ballot.


Call for Mandatory Kindergarten

Thursday, July 26, 2012
Fox News NY

Kindergarten is not mandatory in New York State with New York City being the exception. Many parents are concerned including Jessica Cruz, mother of three, as is Adam Barbanel-Fried from the community based organization 'Westchester United.'


City Council gives preliminary OK to bottle tax hike

Saturday, June 16, 2012
The Baltimore Sun

An increase to Baltimore's bottle tax — the linchpin of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's plan to raise funds to renovate the city's decrepit school buildings — received preliminary approval from the City Council Monday, likely assuring the measure will become law.  The legislation would raise the tax on bottled beverages from 2 cents to 5 cents in July 2013. Supporters hailed the tax increase as a key step toward the biggest overhaul of city schools in decades.


Openness is key to Cleveland school reform

Friday, April 27, 2012
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Greater Cleveland Congregations supports the legislation agreed upon by Mayor Frank Jackson and the Cleveland Teachers Union to reform the Cleveland School District, and urges the Ohio General Assembly to pass it in its current form.


Clergy, children protest cuts to city after-school programs

Friday, March 30, 2012
The Baltimore Sun

Religious leaders joined hundreds of children and parents in a march around Baltimore's Inner Harbor on Thursday afternoon to protest Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's proposed budget cuts to after-school programs.  "Our children are our jewels, not the Inner Harbor," Bishop Douglas Miles, co-chair of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, said in front of the Baltimore Convention Center as children and parents cheered.


Tutoring services offered at MPS lack a progress report

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Providers of after-school tutoring services mandated for low-income students in underperforming Milwaukee Public Schools receive millions of dollars in taxpayer funds but operate under limited oversight and with little accountability for results, according to a report released Monday.  The tutoring, which can cost nearly $2,000 in federal dollars per child, is not reaching as many students as it could, and it's difficult to tell whether the students served are making academic gains as a result, a report by Common Ground says.


Multifaith coalition urges Cleveland schools to restore programs

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- In its first major public action, Greater Cleveland Congregations, a newly formed coalition of churches, synagogues and mosques, is calling on the Cleveland school district to restore programs recently cut to save money.


Group Organizes Litmus Test For 4 Mayoral Candidates

Friday, August 26, 2011
Baltimore NBC WBAL TV

A candidates forum sponsored by Baltimore City's oldest and largest faith-based organization drew four candidates on Thursday.  


Baltimore Education Coalition fights planned cuts to education budget

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Baltimore Brew

Looming state budget cuts directed at Baltimore city’s school are facing strong resistance from the  Baltimore Education Coalition, a group of non-profits, churches and schools planning a major rally in Annapolis on February 28th.

The group’s main message is that, despite the way Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget was initially framed, it does represent a significant slashing of the city’s school budget.


Clergy members push for education reforms

Saturday, May 9, 2009
Columbus Dispatch

Clergy members from three Ohio cities urged the governor and lawmakers today to fix the school-funding system, saying they have a moral obligation to ensure that students in poor communities have the same opportunities as those in wealthier areas. "Our overreliance on property taxes has left too many students - especially in urban and rural districts - with an inadequate education," said Sam Gresham, co-chairman of Faith Vote Columbus, a coalition of churches, neighborhood organizations and labor unions...


Under mayor's control, the schoolkids are doing all right

Sunday, February 8, 2009
NY Daily News

Contrary to both the prepackaged reports that some media outlets have produced and the myths created by the opponents of mayoral control, parents all across the city favor the mayor's role in leading the public schools. It is not news; this movement began nearly 20 years ago...


Turn it around

Saturday, February 7, 2009
Baltimore Sun

No matter how energetic he is, Andrés Alonso can't take street values out of the schools by himself. He needs the community to see that things can be better — and step up to achieve that. The day Andrés Alonso dreaded came the Friday before Thanksgiving. For his first year and a half as Baltimore schools chief, the system was showing unprecedented progress. Four decades of enrollment decline ended. Test scores were their best since the state started keeping track. The graduation rate? Up. Suspensions? Down...


After Council Balks, Bronx Schools Project Is Withdrawn

Thursday, December 7, 2006
New York Times

It is the single biggest project in the biggest school construction plan in the history of New York City: a $235 million campus of four schools, with a football field and basketball courts, to be built on old railyards in the South Bronx. Local groups that pushed for the plan cheered wildly when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg endorsed it two years ago.

But yesterday, the project, intended as a hallmark of the mayor’s effort to improve education in neighborhoods with historically lower-performing schools, was stalled by City Council members who said they wanted to force Mr. Bloomberg to give them a greater say in school admissions rules, especially for the dozens of small high schools he has created in recent years...


Nurturing small schools without hurting big ones

Wednesday, December 1, 2004
New York Times

VIRGINIA GONZALEZ marched through the dismal drizzle of a late November morning in the South Bronx. She made her way past the bodegas, video stores and housing projects of Mott Haven, crossed over a tangle of railroad tracks, and descended into several acres of urban underbrush. Weeds stood shoulder-high. Chunks of concrete and drainpipe lay in heaps. A car chassis rusted beside chain-link fence.
    
"The promised land," Ms. Gonzalez announced to several companions, and she spoke with not a trace of irony...


Group speaks out on schools

Monday, March 8, 2004
Baltimore Sun

The sanctuary of a Northeast Baltimore church shook with applause yesterday as members from dozens of religious congregations demanded that children not be affected by the fiscal crisis in the city public schools, and that control of the system return to the city and its residents by 2006. "We demand that the children of Baltimore be held harmless," said the Rev. Stephen Tillette of Mount Zion United Methodist Church, one of several clergymen addressing the crowd of about 500 members of BUILD - Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development...


Strickland revists campaign promises

Columbus Dispatch

A year after candidate Ted Strickland promised a faith-based coalition that he would work on their issues of jobs, health care and education, Gov. Ted Strickland returned last night to assess how he's done in his first 11 months in office.

More than 500 people jammed Trinity Baptist Church on St. Clair Avenue to hold Strickland accountable for campaign promises he made a year ago when he was a candidate for governor...