Community Centers

There are many historic African American communities throughout Montgomery County including Scotland in Potomac, Sandy Spring in Olney, Plum Gar in Germantown and Good Hope in Burtonsville. The Community Centers located in each community had been severely neglected as the County continued to grow in prosperity and became one of the richest places in the country. Within these centers, not only were rats, sanitation and flooding an issue, but also they lacked sports equipment and even standard sized courts.

The AIM Community Centers campaign brought these communities together with AIM leaders, clergy and congregations, to collectively organize around renovating these four solely neglected centers immediately. This campaign greatly impacted the 3,500 families who were within walking distance of these community centers, particularly the seniors and the low-income, at-risk youth who mostly utilized these centers. In addition, African American people in these communities in particular were, and had always been, treated as second-class citizens by the County. As community centers in predominately white communities received considerable funding, AIM leaders, clergy and congregations members agreed that the lack of funding to these four predominantly African American communities was unacceptable.

AIM leaders and allies demonstrated their people power to the County Council and County Executive by holding a 350 person action. County Executive Leggett attended and promised to allocate 30-40 million dollars to renovate the centers. When his budget was released, however, the County executive broke his pledge and did not include the money for the centers. AIM leaders didn’t take no for an answer — they organized an action with 1,047 AIM leaders, clergy, congregation members and County Council members in attendance. AIM members were successful in getting all of the County Council members to unanimously overrule County Executive Leggett’s budget and in turn allocate 30 million into restoring and rebuilding the community centers.

In the News

Bilingual Organizer Job Openings

Metro Industrial Areas Foundation

Bilingual Organizer Job Openings in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia

Download this job posting by clicking here.

The leaders and organizers of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF) create local, independent citizen-run organizations whose primary purpose is building power that lasts. Our organizations organize people across race, class and neighborhood and are made up of congregations, schools, community organizations, and unions.  We organize poor, working and middle class families on issues like affordable housing, jobs/unemployment, community safety, youth investment, and immigrant rights. Metro IAF has five affiliates in the Metro Washington/Baltimore area: Washington Interfaith NetworkVirginians Organized for Interfaith Community EngagementAction in Montgomery, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, and People Acting Together in Howard.

Our Organizing in Immigrant Communities: Metro IAF organizations seek to hire 3-4 bilingual organizers in the DC, MD, VA area to expand the power of its immigrant members, their institutions and allies to fight back against current local, regional, and national threats to immigrant families and communities. Metro IAF has more than 177 congregations, synagogues, mosques, schools, and other civic institutions, representing more than 300,000 people in the Metro DC/MD/VA region. These institutions have a substantial number of Latino, African, and Muslim immigrant members with whom we have organized for the last 15 years.  Some of our accomplishments are:

      • In Maryland our leaders helped pass the Dream Act, a bill granting immigrant students in-state tuition, and defeat a repeal attempt; forced a slumlord to clean up mold and other problems that were affecting thousands of immigrant tenants; and organized a 1,000-person action with African Immigrants that 3 Maryland Gubernatorial candidates attended.
      • In Virginia, we pushed the Dept. of Homeland Security to stop delays and backlogs of 200 immigration applications from Muslims, got the Virginia DMV to fairly process immigrant Driver’s license applications, won $225,000 in bus service improvements for immigrant communities in Arlington County, and $9 million preserved in the state budget for immigrant dental services, etc.
      • In MD, DC & VA we’ve won over $1.3 billion to build and preserve 4,500 units of affordable housing, which increasingly serves immigrant families.
      • Metro IAF designed and implemented the nation’s first living wage law in Baltimore in 1994. Today similar legislation exists in over 100 communities and we are successfully pressing for the hiring of returning citizens, and increased in wages and benefits for workers.

Metro IAF seeks to recruit, train, and develop the next generation of grassroots organizers. We are looking for people from community organizations, colleges, graduate programs, seminaries, business and law schools, political campaigns, and other professions who are interested in exploring careers in organizing.  See Metro IAF Qualities of A Successful Organizer or below.

Compensation & Supervision: Under the supervision of the senior organizer, identify, recruit, and train volunteer leaders using the IAF’s proven person-to-person organizing method and guide and support them in organizing to effect change on specific issues that impact them and their communities. We offer a paid, 90-day try-out. IAF believes organizing should be a vocation, not a job. Organizers salaries include health/dental care, pension, and paid vacation. $48,000-$65,000

Qualifications & How to Apply: We’re looking for people who want their work to have meaning, can channel their anger and passion into action, and have the drive, stamina, and imagination to figure out how to accomplish a goal. Spanish fluency is required for some positions. In your cover letter, please share a story where you were the principal player in making change, include what motivated you to act, one key lesson you learned from the experience, and if/how the qualities listed below assisted you in making change.  Car and valid driver’s license is required for the positionSend cover letter, resume to metroiaf@gmail.com. To learn more about Metro IAF’s organizing culture, discipline, and production: read Going Public by Michael Gecan.

Visit our websites to find out more about each of the affiliates: Washington Interfaith NetworkVirginians Organized for Interfaith Community EngagementAction in Montgomery, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, and People Acting Together in Howard.

Qualities of a Successful Organizer:

  1. NATIVE INTELLIGENCE– not necessarily degrees, but the ability to think, reflect, communicate, challenge the conventional wisdom, make judgments in complicated situations, and show flexibility.
  2. ANGER AND EDGE– not temper, not ideological fervor, not an abstract commitment to “the people,” but a clear sense of what’s wrong, impatience in the face of that wrong, and a drive to address it.
  3. RELATIONALITY, ESPECIALLY ACROSS RACE AND CULTURE– ability to build deep trust with people, especially people unlike oneself, people of other races, classes, orientations, faiths, etc..
  4. A TRACK RECORD– some evidence, in high school, college, the local community, the workplace of attempting to relate to people and to respond to situations that seemed to demand responses; and some success in whatever field or career or endeavor has occupied the individual’s time.
  5. HUSTLE

 

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Read Adeline and Chislon’s Testimony about the Dream Academy

Adeline Akoforngwe, Testimony to the Montgomery County Council, April 5, 2017

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to testify, my name is Adeline Akoforngwe, and I am a parent of a fifth grade student at South Lake Elementary School where my son is a part of the Dream Academy.

First, I would like to sincerely thank the County Council for funding the Dream Academy it is an incredible program. And second, I’d like to thank the Recreation Department, they have done a wonderful job in starting and operating the program at our school.

The program has really been of great help to my son Chislon and I know to other kids. The extra hour of academic support gives my son and the other students the opportunity to fully learn concepts from the normal school day.

In particular, the program has helped my son a great deal with some behavioral issues. When we first moved from Cameroon he was having some challenges adapting to the new environment. I was getting a call once a week or once every two weeks from the principal’s office because he had gotten in trouble. It got so bad, that when I would see South Lake come up on my cell phone my heart would start to skip. But since the Dream Academy started in February I haven’t gotten a single call. In fact, I received a phone call from his teacher, she called to let me know how much Chislon had improved and how well he was behaving in class.

I really do appreciate his teacher and the administration’s support for my son, but the Dream Academy is something special.

The academic support Chislon receives is also very impactful. The teachers at the Dream Academy has created extra time and space to support him with math. He is getting to do some of it by himself now and you don’t have to help him do it step by step. Sometimes he comes home from school and he’s already done his math homework, if I don’t search, I won’t even know that he had math homework.

He really really loves Dream Academy so much, there’s no day he doesn’t tell me he’s looking forward to it. Tomorrow, April 6th, the current school quarter will end and we’ll find out about his grades. I am just so sure there will be improvement.

Thank you.

 

Chislon Njang, Testimony to the Montgomery County Council, April 5, 2017

Good evening, my name is Chislon Njang, and I fifth grade student at South Lake Elementary School.

When I first moved here last winter I didn’t understand the rules in my school so I was getting in trouble a lot – it was so different from the rules in Cameroon.

Before the Dream Academy started, I was getting trouble every single day, but now I don’t get in trouble anymore.

The staff and teachers at the Dream Academy help me focus and calm down when I want to act out. They remind me to be nice and let me know it’s ok to take a break outside of the classroom, and take deep breaths.

My favorite subjects are math and science. I like math because I’m good at it. It makes sense to me. And I feel confident when I’m doing something I know I’m good at. The teachers at the Dream Academy have helped me do better in the regular school classes.

Thank you for funding this program, I’ll be in middle school next year, but I hope you put more money in the budget for the program next year. I know it will help other kids. Also, I’d like to come back and visit.

Thank you.

 

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Over 600 Gather for AIM Action

 

clergyaction

On February 9th, over 600 people packed the sanctuary of Silver Spring United Methodist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland to stake a claim on the future of Montgomery County. Leaders from across the county gathered to take part in the event put on by Action in Montgomery (AIM) and the Montgomery Housing Alliance (MHA). The pews where full of leaders from elementary schools and the Amalgamated Transit Union, local churches and Islamic community centers, synagogues and retirement communities; a diverse group brought together to stand up for the constitutional and human rights of all people in Montgomery County and to launch AIM’s 2017 Listening Campaign.

AIM began the action by thanking the County Executive, County Council, Superintendent, and Police Chief for their bold leadership in making sure that Montgomery County residents are welcomed and treated fairly, regardless of faith or immigration status. Clergy assembled on stage to commit to stand in support of county officials in their continuing work to welcome, serve, educate and protect the safety of all residents regardless of changes to policy at the federal level, and promised to hold those officials accountable should that change.

As a part of this effort, 130 attendees committed to being a part of AIM’s Rapid Response Team, a group that will be trained and prepared for powerful action and resistance to counter Anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and racist incidents and actions.

The action was a time of celebration. Leaders came forward and provided news of AIM’s recent victories while also clearly laying out AIM’s Agenda for 2017.

Residents of Northwest Park shared the story of their victory seeking redress for deplorable conditions in their apartments. After a year of organizing to hold Kay Management accountable for the reoccurring mold and persistent problems with rodents, bed bugs, and cockroaches, tenants and AIM have won a number of improvements, the latest of which is a commitment from Kay Management to replace all 1,950 windows in the 800-unit complex over the next four years and overhaul their policy for preventing and remediating mold.

Principal Celeste King and student Dave Sob spoke about Dream Academy, the free, quality afterschool programming with parent organizing that AIM won for 240 students at two elementary schools with high poverty rates. Ms. King spoke of the program’s impact on her student body and shared AIM’s intention to expand Dream Academy to 4 new schools in FY18.

Shane Rock of Interfaith Works updated the assembly on AIM’s victories in affordable housing. AIM won an additional $51 million for the Housing Initiative Fund (HIF) for the 2017 budget, and in 2016, the HIF produced new 983 units and preserved 2,646 affordable units. Furthermore, AIM fought for 275 affordable housing units in the Westward redevelopment in Bethesda, MD. AIM reiterated its commitment to making Montgomery County welcoming to all by pushing for more affordable housing in 2017, calling for an increase in the HIF and a commitment to put affordable housing first on County Land.

Finally, AIM committed to working along side the Amalgamated Transit Union to fight for a Metro bus and rail system that works and is fair to riders and workers.

The action closed with leaders from each present institution coming forward to make a bold commitment to be part of AIM’s 2017 Listening Campaign. When the night was through, AIM leaders had committed to listening to over 3000 people, in conversations focused around the immediate needs of new executive orders surrounding immigration, as well as pertaining to AIM’s other long-term agenda issues.

The Listening Campaign will be kicked off by intercultural listening sessions at member institutions around the county with significant immigrant populations. These sessions will bring together a diverse group to have an inter-cultural conversation about the most pressing issues in their lives. The issues and leaders identified by these conversations will build AIM’s People’s Agenda for the 2018 election and identify our top campaign issues. It is the first step to build power and work for justice together in Montgomery County, and will put AIM and AIM’s agenda front and center in the 2018 election.

St. Camillus Catholic Church put together a video of the event, linked here.

 

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Groundbreaking for Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center!

December 12th, 2016 | By Mitti Hicks

Wonderful groundbreaking at Good Hope Community Center! The last of the four community centers in Historic African-American Communities to get renovations, this time with an arts focus from Strathmore. Thank you to County Executive Leggett, Councilmembers Berliner, Floreen, Elrich, Riemer, Leventhal, and Recreation Director Gabe Albornoz!

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