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One America - Interfaith Action

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One America

Program: Interfaith Action, Rochester, NY
Contact(s): Brian A. Kane, Director: (716) 235-2590
Purpose: To restore a sense of community in Rochester and teach people how to address and resolve the issues that concern them the most

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Deeply troubled by growing violence, drug dealing and the deterioration of their neighborhoods in Rochester, some 114 people met in 1994 and decided to create a multi-faith, multiracial organization to improve the quality of life for the city and county residents. The population of the Rochester area is 11% African American, 84% European and almost 4% Hispanic. The 15 churches of Interfaith Action, including nine European, five African American and one mixed church, are composed of 15.5% African Americans, 84% European and a small percentage of Hispanics. Today, Interfaith Action is a source of unity that bridges the racial, ethnic and economic diversity in the city and suburbs. Interfaith Action is an affiliate of the Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO), a national organizing network with 29 organizations in 65 cities.

Program Operations

Interfaith Action succeeds by working with congregations to identify, train and mobilize diverse grassroots leaders and their constituencies. Interfaith Action and PICO train leaders in the art of building community. They create networks of relationships and develop close ties to families and neighbors. Interfaith Action's activities have encompassed a wide variety of projects, including improved street lighting and demolishment of an abandoned building. Interfaith Action's efforts have also increased policing on a particular street in town and prevented a gun shop from opening in a crime-ridden city neighborhood. In addition to winning approval for a new 40-unit senior housing project in a local community, Interfaith created a "Safe Kid Zone" in the city's Beechwood neighborhood by expanding police presence after school and establishing seven "safe havens" for children in crisis. To help School 25, which is located near a very busy intersection, Interfaith installed school traffic signs and flashing lights. Interfaith turned its efforts toward reducing drug trafficking and street crime by launching a unique community policing pilot project in the city's Maplewood and Edgerton neighborhoods. Although Interfaith Action employs a professional staff organizer and fund developer, its steering committee and congregation-based local organizing committees are run by and for the leaders, their congregations and communities.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Since 1994, Interfaith Action has held 15 public actions with nearly 2,500 people. Interfaith Action leaders have held one-to-one conversations with some 4,000 people. Over 200 grassroots leaders have been trained in the concepts and techniques of community organizing and citizenship.

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