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Faith community lifts up Indy's hardest hit

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Editor's note: One final reminder that IndyCan will kick off a major cooperative, grassroots effort to invigorate the local workforce.

We received the following press release from organizers this morning:

Over 1,000 people of faith from over 30 congregations will unite across racial, economic, religious, and neighborhood lines to invite Mayor Ballard, City-Council and other public and private leaders to join them to launch a bold new vision to connect 10,000 Indy residents, hardest hit by the economic recession, to high quality jobs and career pathways, as part of the IndyCAN Founding Convention on Tuesday, March 6th at 7pm at Light of the World Christian Church 4646 N. Michigan Rd.

"I minister to families working two or three jobs and they still end up at the food pantry at the end of the week," explained Fr. Larry Crawford an IndyCAN founder and Pastor at St. Gabriel Catholic Church. "People of faith are standing together to make sure our public dollars benefit those who need them the most and lead to good jobs that can sustain a family."

Nearly half (44%) of Marion County residents no longer earn enough to meet their basic needs, according to the Indiana Institute for Working Families and the Median income has dropped 14% since 2007.

At a time of record poverty and unemployment millions of city dollars are being spent on public subsidies and incentives to corporations, without a clear standard of how those funds will benefit the community or create high quality jobs. In these cash strapped times, cities across the country are tightening their belts and choosing to focus their public dollars on 'Local Hire Policies,' city legislation that rewards companies that deliver high quality jobs. High quality jobs are those jobs with the potential to lift people out of poverty by paying prevailing wages, offer healthcare and other benefits, offer training and advancement opportunities in key growth industries, and hire local workers first through 'first source' programs that target people who need jobs the most. For example, the Milwaukee Opportunities for Resorting Employment ordinance requires that 40% of the hours worked on public works projects and on private projects that receive $1 million or more in direct financial assistance from the city must be preformed by unemployed hard to employ city residents.

"Our family is struggling. I have to leave my small children 3 days a week when I travel over four hours across the state for work I should be able to do in Indianapolis," explained Steve Lattimore, a contractor and IndyCAN leader at Northside New Era Baptist Church.

As part of the 'Opportunity for All' Campaign IndyCAN leaders will share multiple strategies that could help remove the barriers to good jobs including; investing in regional transportation, aligning on-the-job training directly with projected worker shortages in key growth areas, following the lead of 22 cities that have implemented 'Fair Hiring' Policies to ensure old or irrelevant criminal records are not automatically used as a disqualifier for jobs and passage of the DREAM Act and In-State tuition to allow all graduating high school students equal access to a college degree. IndyCAN leaders will also announce a new partnership with the Department of Public Safety to implement a nationally recognized violence reduction strategy 'Operation Ceasefire'. This strategy has proven to reduce homicides by as much as 60% in multiple cities by identifying the handful of young people responsible for rising violence and connecting them with jobs and other supports to leave street life.

The Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN) is a new alliance of congregations representing tens of thousands of families across Marion County that develops the capacity of ordinary people to improve the quality of life and expand opportunities for families in the Indianapolis Metropolitan region. IndyCAN is an affiliate of the PICO National Network.

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