Fires have damaged or destroyed at least six predominantly black churches across the southern United States in the two weeks since a white supremacist was arrested for the murder of nine black parishioners at the historic Emanuel African...
Greater Boston Interfaith Organization
The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) focuses on social justice, working to coalesce, train and organize the communities of Greater Boston across all religious, racial, ethnic, class and neighborhood lines. GBIO aims to hold both public and private power holders accountable, and to take action and initiate programs to solve community and economic problems.
GBIO is multi-issue. The issues we work on come from within our institutions, from the concerns of the people. We cross neighborhood, city, racial, religious, and class lines to find common ground and act on our faith and democratic values. GBIO has over 50 ins GBIO is affiliated with theIndustrial Areas Foundation (IAF)and is inspired by the 65 other IAF-affiliated organizations working in cities and metropolitan areas across the country.
Current campaigns include:
- Health care -- In 2005, GBIO joined with the ACT! Coalition to expand access to quality affordable health care to the more than half a million people across the Commonwealth without health insurance. We organized a constant presence at the State House to push for quality healthcare for low and moderate income individuals and families. GBIO leaders collected over 55,000 petition signatures as part of the MassAct Coalition’s 130,000 total signatures in support of comprehensive health reform. This organizing work led GBIO to have significant influence on the passage of the Massachusetts health reform law of April 2006. In total, over 430,000 people statewide now have health insurance because of this law. The 2006 MA healthcare reform served as a model for the national Affordable Care Act. In 2011-12, GBIO used its well-established healthcare credentials to help secure first-in-the-nation legislation to reign in rising health care costs. The bill is projected to save the state over $200 billion over the next 15 years. It also establishes a public health trust fund.
- Youth Jobs -- In collaboration with Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation’s Youth Force and the Youth Jobs Collaborative, GBIO has been fighting for more youth jobs. Specifically we have been focused on getting the state budget to include more funding for youth jobs and on encouraging the City Council and small business community to work together to create more youth jobs in all of the neighborhoods across Boston.
- English as a Second Language & Workforce Development -- As result of a GBIO Gubernatorial Action in October of 2010, Governor Patrick created a team of department heads of several state agencies to address issues around housing, workforce development and English as a Second Language, with a focus on the Haitian community. In 2011, the Department of Housing and Community Development made $70,000 available to fund two staff positions at two different housing agencies to assist Haitian immigrants. The Department of Elementary and Secondary education invested $30,000 to fund a level one ESOL class in Boston, and top leaders have organized classes and workforce related opportunities by partnering with Jewish Vocational Services. Ongoing conversations and organizing exists with the several state secretaries of different state departments.
- Public Education -- GBIO has been organizing parents and leaders in specific schools, such as the Dearborn Middle School, in Roxbury. In the fall and winter of 2011-2012, a city-wide GBIO parent group was engaged in a tough fight to ensure buses get to school on time and in negotiating a long-term plan to address the underlying systematic problems in the delivery of transportation services to BPS students. Over the last year, the Dearborn Community Alliance – GBIO’s Core Team of parents, teachers, administrators and community partners at the Dearborn – has been fighting to keep the Boston Public Schools, the City of Boston, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority committed to a $40 million conversion of the Dearborn Middle School into a Early College 6-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math school. Boston’s Mayor and School Superintendent and the State Treasurer recently made a public commitment to break ground on the conversion by March, 2014.
- Moving From Debt to Assets -- Last Year, GBIO celebrated the 5th Anniversary of the launching of the Moving from Debt to Assets financial education and empowerment program. With over 800 graduates moving through the program that is now offered in 8 languages, including Somali and Haitian Creole, Debts to Assetts (D2A) is widely recognized as statewide model for financial literacy. In 2012, it became its own 501c3 non-profit, and continues to work with grants from the foundations and through a GBIO partnership with Citizens Bank.
- Small and Minority Businesses -- Over the last year, GBIO has been building relationships with small, minority and women-owned businesses, hearing stories of discrimination and unfair hiring practice. As a first step in addressing these concerns, GBIO has been working with the Mayor and City Council on making data available that shows specific percentages of how many city contracts are given to small and minority and women owned businesses.
- Newton Congregations -- Newton Congregations embraces GBIO congregations and other institutional allies in the City of Newton. Newton recently moved $1 million out of Bank of America, responding to the pledge of Mayor Setti Warren as a candidate in 2009. Building on issues which emerged from house meetings, research and action is underway in three areas: Teen Stress, Elder Services, and Affordable Housing.