This year, the Network of Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Organizations celebrates its 40th Anniversary.

IAF leaders from across Texas will celebrate this milestone with an event in San Antonio on April 30, 2016.

The group started in San Antonio in 1976 with Communities Organized for Public Service (COPs) and spread from there.

In the Rio Grande Valley, a sister organization to COPS was formed in 1983. Valley Interfaith has had a number of successes over the past 33 years, including securing water and sewer infrastructure for many of the Valley’s colonias, helping pass a tax referendum to set up South Texas Community College, setting up Project VIDA to improve workforce training, setting up El Milagro Clinic to help those without health insurance, getting some cities to introduce single member districts, getting some cities to adopt living wage strategies, and developing leaders in various Valley neighborhoods.

The Texas IAF Network now comprises: COPS / Metro in San Antonio, TMO / GCLC in Houston, Valley Interfaith in the Rio Grande Valley, EPISO & Border Interfaith in El Paso, Austin Interfaith, ACT in Fort Worth, Dallas Area Interfaith, The West Texas Organizing Strategy, and The Border Organization in Del Rio and Eagle Pass.

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Network of Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Organizations, the Rio Grande Guardian is launching a series profiling some of the leaders of Valley Interfaith. Leaders such as Ofelia de los Santos, Eddie Anaya, and the Rev. Jerry Frank.

These profiles will be published in the coming weeks. To kick things off we are posting today an introduction to the Network of Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Organizations, penned by Jason Lowry, an associate organizer with Valley Interfaith, and Socorro Perales, lead organizer with Valley Interfaith.

We are also publishing a guest column co-authored by leaders in the various Texas IAF Network chapters. It is titled An Adult’s Guide to Changing Texas Politics: An Electoral Strategy by the Texas IAF, 2016.

Click here to read the Perales/Lowry piece and the Texas IAF Network guest column.