Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How did Faith in Action get started?
Faith in Action was founded in 1972 under the leadership Father John Baumann, a Jesuit priest who had learned community organizing Chicago. We began as a regional training institute to help support neighborhood organizations in California, first as the Oakland Training Institute, later renamed the Pacific Institute for Community Organizing (PICO). In 2004, having grown to include organizing efforts across the country who also hoped to act together to influence federal policy, we became PICO National Network. In 2018, to better reflect our mission and our vision for the future, we renamed ourselves Faith in Action. Today, Faith in Action has 45 affiliated federations working in 200 cities and towns and 21 states.
What is community organizing?
Community organizing is a systematic approach to addressing the root causes of social problems. It is a process by which people investigate and act together to change their communities and society. Through community organizing people build relationships across differences to work on issues they share in common. Together, they identify shared goals and learn tools to make changes that improve their lives and the society.
How is Faith in Action structured?
The foundation of Faith in Action is made up of faith institutions that join together in local chapters in their cities, towns or metropolitan regions. These chapters work on local issues to make their communities better, more racially equitable places to live. State organizations provide training, support and coaching to local chapters and help their member congregations and people of faith from across the state work together on larger state and national issues. At the national level Faith in Action is led by and accountable to these state member organizations.
Does Faith in Action only work through congregations?
Most of the institutions that belong to Faith in Action organizations are congregations. Member institutions can also include schools, community centers, community development corporations, labor unions, and business associations.
Why the focus on congregations and faith?
Faith is central to our work for many reasons. While we experience faith in very different ways, many of us share a common belief that the community and the world in which we live in can look different. The belief in the unseen is a powerful ingredient to overcoming the apathy and resignation that often stands in the way of improving communities. Many of us find strength and guidance in our faith to take the risks necessary to act on behalf of ourselves and others. And in many of our neighborhoods, faith institutions hold together the fabric of community life and thus provide a strong social and financial basis for a broad-based community improvement effort.
What kind of congregations does PICO work with?
We are a multi-faith, multi-racial network. Congregations from more than thirty-five different denominations and faith traditions participate in Faith in Action. They include Catholic, Mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Non-Denominational, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist, among many others.
Can individuals join Faith in Action?
We’re glad you asked! Please visit our membership page here to sign up! Monthly contributions help to sustain our work and ensure that we continue to be a people-powered movement accountable to the faith leaders who drive our work. Contact our Individual Giving & Membership Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Where does Faith in Action get its funding?
Our funding comes from dues paid by our member organizations, support from individual donations and foundation grants. All donations to the local affiliates and the PICO National Network are tax-deductible. To learn more about contributing money to support PICO, see our Donate page. Each local and state federation in our network is an independent 501(c)(3) organization and is responsible for raising its own budget. Federations in our network are funded by foundation grants, individual contributions, and dues paid by member institutions (primarily congregations).
Is Faith in Action aligned with a political party?
Faith in Action is non-partisan and is not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.
What issues does Faith in Action work on?
Faith in Action works on issues of racial, economic, and social justice that most impact the people in our communities. Federations in our network organize communities to make an impact on local, state, and national policy. You can learn more about the major issues we work on nationally in our Issues section.
Each Faith in Action federation focuses on the issues that are most pressing to the individuals and families they organize, so our issues vary based on the local context and change over time as needs and priorities evolve. Our federations have won victories in the areas of affordable housing, equitable education, public safety, immigrant justice, neighborhood revitalization, opportunities for youth, transportation, and health care that directly affect the quality of life in communities.
Does Faith in Action only work in large cities?
Faith in Action has affiliates working in rural areas, towns, and small cities, as well as some of the largest cities in the United States.
How does Faith in Action start working in a community?
The most common way in which a Faith in Action organization is started is that a group of people, often but not always clergy, invite Faith in Action staff to meet with them to help build a new community effort. People involved in the effort may participate in Faith in Action National Leadership Training to learn more about congregation-based organizing. Based on an assessment by experienced organizers, local leaders raise funds and recruit institutions to participate on what Faith in Action refers to as a Sponsoring Committee. This committee sponsors the development of a new organization effort during its first few years of existence.
What if there is no Faith in Action organization in my community?
If you are interested in learning more about starting a PICO organization in your community, please write to us at email@example.com.