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Strong Neighborhoods, Strong Schools: Case Study: Austin Interfaith

Austin Interfaith, founded in 1985, is a multi-issue group made up of forty-five religious congregations, schools, and other institutions. Austin Interfaith is an affiliate of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Network, which developed the Alliance Schools network to link schools that agree to commit to collaborative dialogue and decision-making involving parents, community members, teachers, principals and students. Austin Interfaith has built a strong network of Alliance Schools, which are recognized by the Austin Unified District for their capacity to implement reform. Texas IAF also influenced the state education agency to establish a dedicated Fund to support schools that engage parents and community in reform efforts; Austin Interfaith has brought substantial new resources to its schools from this and other sources. This report looks at the accomplishments of Austin Interfaith’s education organizing in the indicator areas of leadership development, high quality curriculum and instruction, public accountability, and school/community connections. Noteworthy accomplishments include: developing informed leaders among parents, teachers, principals, and students; opening communication between parents and teachers and among school staff; increasing civic participation and holding public officials/School District leadership accountable for their commitments; and bringing in new academic programs, teaching initiatives, professional development, and bilingual classes.