Over the last nineteen years, Arizona Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations have built a network of 170 member congregations, unions, schools and other educational organizations, primarily in the two large urban areas of the state, but also in three rural counties. Building on a vision that leadership development is the foundation for any human development or family development strategy, the four organizations have used a focused plan of individual meetings and house meetings to search for leadership talent and to learn about the pressures which confront our families, especially minorities and those with low income.

The track record in terms of specific measurable concrete accomplishments of the Arizona Interfaith Network (AIN) organizations is exemplary. Some are summarized as follows:

  • Defeated major anti-immigrant bills in the Arizona Legislature
  • Advanced the acceptance of the Matricula Consular by 10 political subdivisions
  • Sharply increased voter turnout in selected legislative districts through active citizenship program
  • Led the statewide grassroots opposition in 2004 to Proposition 200, the Protect Arizona Now Initiative
  • Opposed cuts by the State Legislature in programs serving poor families, including adult education and community health
  • Lead the State effort to create a training program for long term care workers
  • Conducted Institutes of Public Life in the Phoenix area in support of passage of the Maricopa County Integrated Health System District
  • Hosted a community assembly of 4,000 people to hear President Vicente Fox of Mexico in November 2003
  • Expanded funding for after-school programs
  • New recreation centers in under-served neighborhoods
  • Permanent facilities for adult education programs
  • Affordable housing for low-income buyers
  • Assistance to immigrants wanting to become citizens
  • A labor market intermediary that links motivated workers with training leading to living wage jobs with benefits
  • Adoption of living wage ordinance
  • Supported efforts to achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The four Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations in Arizona comprise the membership of the Arizona Institute for Public Life (AIPL) and the Arizona Interfaith Network (AIN). They are

  • Valley Interfaith Project, serving all of Maricopa County, including the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale and Gilbert
  • Pima County Interfaith Council, serving Tucson and the rest of Pima County
  • Yuma County Interfaith, serving the cities of Yuma, Somerton, Welton and San Luis
  • Northern Arizona Interfaith Council, serving the Flagstaff, Verde Valley and Prescott Tri City areas of Coconino and Yavapai Counties

These four organizations are comprised of member institutions, i.e., congregations, schools and unions. While they draw from the full spectrum of their communities, their focus is on the issues of families with low incomes and who are often immigrants. The leadership training conducted by each organization with its member institutions seeks to identify leaders capable of learning how to articulate the needs of their families in meetings with elected officials and bureaucrats.

The Arizona IAF organizations came together in 1997 and created the Arizona Interfaith Network (AIN) as an effective model for human development and to demonstrate the ability of grass roots groups to function at a statewide level in a manner that crosses race, class, religious affiliation and economic status.

The Arizona Interfaith Network organizations intentionally cross lines of race, class, and economic status in their membership. Through using the skills of broad-based organizing, leaders emerge from member institutions who have an appetite to learn and grow through creating intentional relationships with other leaders who come from different backgrounds. Through sharing their stories with each other, leaders find common concerns and interests from which action strategies can be created.

The development of the Arizona Interfaith Network is vital to the hopes of poor and working families in Arizona. By building social capital through broad-based community organizing and by developing intellectual capital and skills, new leaders will emerge to represent the interests of families and to fight for the necessary public policy changes are made.