CLOUT

Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together

Background

Citizens of Louisville Organized & United Together (CLOUT) is an organization of religious congregations and groups which are working together to solve critical community problems. We are not a service provider, but a grassroots, direct action, multi-issue organization, which has come together to be a powerful force for improving the quality of life in our community.

 

Accomplishments

Since CLOUT’s beginning in 1991, the organization has brought people together from different religious denominations, different areas of the community, and different races to work together on issues of common concern. These are just a few of the community improvements resulting from CLOUT’s work since its beginning:

In 2015, officials from TARC (the local public transit agency), KIPDA (the metropolitan planning agency), businesses in the Riverport industrial park, and the Louisville Metro Council committed to develop a solution to inadequate public transit services to the Riverport area in southwest Jefferson County, including support for a new circulator bus that will provide much better access to the 115 businesses and 7000 jobs there.

Also in 2015, in response to several years of work by CLOUT and its allies (see below), Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the Louisville CARES initiative, which will provide an $11 million rotating loan fund to provide funding for more affordable housing in Louisville, a significant first step to providing funding needed to address this crisis.

In the 2014-2015 school year, in response to years of work by CLOUT to move the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) from feeding the “school-to-prison pipeline” by using primarily punitive and exclusionary methods of school discipline (see below), 76 schools have been trained in the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which gives schools the tools to resolve discipline issues in the classroom, reducing suspension rates, referrals to alternative schools, and drop-outs. Also, in June 2014, the JCPS Board of Education approved a new Code of Conduct that contains more use of restorative practices.

In 2014, as a result of CLOUT taking on the issue, the Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously (26-0) to “Ban the Box,” making it illegal for local government, and vendors and contractors who do business with the city, to inquire about a person’s criminal record on an initial job application. Louisville is just the 16th city in the US to adopt such a policy, which opens up job opportunities for ex-offenders and ensures that people aren’t punished twice for mistakes made long ago.

In 2012, Dr. Donna Hargens, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), committed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the problem of school bullying. Dr. Hargens met with CLOUT four times following the 2012 Nehemiah Action, resulting in the implementation of all elements of the comprehensive plan for the 2012-2013 JCPS school year, including ongoing bullying prevention trainings for JCPS staff, cultural competency training, creation of a district-wide bullying prevention committee, and improved bully reporting procedures.

In 2011, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer committed to find an ongoing dedicated source of public revenue for Louisville’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, in order to address the problem of 25,000 families being on the waiting list for affordable housing assistance in Louisville.

In 2010, officials with the JCPS and the local juvenile court committed to implement “restorative justice” approaches for dealing with youth crime and violence, in order to address the “school to prison pipeline.” The resulting program in the juvenile court, called “Restorative Justice Louisville,” uses “family group conferencing” to deal with select juvenile court cases that hold the offender more accountable, allow for restitution, and avoid incarceration. Also, at CLOUT’s request, County Attorney Mike O’Connell committed to discontinue the practice of referring all school-related offenses directly to court without the opportunity of diversion. As for JCPS, in response to CLOUT’s request, JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens and other top administrators, along with two school board members and the head of the local teacher’s union traveled with CLOUT leaders to visit a school in Baltimore, MD to observe the use of restorative practices there. Also at CLOUT’s request, Superintendent Hargens organized an all-day orientation in restorative practices for representatives from almost all 150 JCPS schools.

“We have a lot of residents in our community, but not enough citizens. Your work is direct evidence of what real citizenship can do. I applaud your work.”

– Jerry Abramson / former Mayor of Louisville, KY –

In 2009, state and local officials committed to work toward a cap on interest rates for payday loans, which currently charge rates upwards of 400% APR. CLOUT got Kentucky’s attorney general to hold three public hearings across the state on the problem in fall 2010. Those hearings resulted in a unanimous recommendation by the state’s Consumer Advisory Council that a rate cap of 36% be passed in the 2011 legislative session. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass during that session but each year since then it has received more support, CLOUT has assisted in the development of the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending, a diverse coalition of over 60 organizations across the state who support a rate cap, and the coalition’s work is continuing to see that reasonable regulations are passed.

Also in 2009, CLOUT got Louisville’s mayor and local banks & credit unions to agree to develop an initiative to reach out to the 29,000 unbanked households in the Louisville area by providing more affordable & accessible products and services. Since summer of 2010, when “Bank On Louisville” was launched, with 16 financial institutions participating, over 16,000 persons have opened new accounts, with an average balance of $853 and with 91% of the accounts remaining open.

In 2008, state and local health officials committed to remove barriers to the enrollment of uninsured children in the Medicaid and Kentucky Child Health Insurance Program (KCHIP), with Gov. Beshear eventually committing to enroll 35,000 thousand more, with a total state/federal commitment of $112 million, over the following two years. As the result of these changes, over time an additional 60,000 children were enrolled in KCHIP.

In 2007, commitments from state & local officials made changes that have helped stop the “revolving door” of the criminal justice system, including: (then) Ky. Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert doubled the size of the Drug Court program and to provide more training for judges; (then) Ky. Dept. of Corrections Commissioner John Rees created a new training program in drug & alcohol addiction issues for all Probation & Parole staff statewide; and (then) Mayor Jerry Abramson established a new drug treatment program in our local jail.

Numerous state & local officials committed to establish a Louisville Metro Affordable Housing Trust Fund to address the serious lack of affordable housing in the city, including (then) Mayor Jerry Abramson, who included the AHTF in his Comprehensive Housing Strategy and committed $1 million in seed money. Once fully funded, the AHTF will provide millions of dollars each year to address the lack of affordable housing in the city.

The Family Health Centers hired more bilingual interpreters, translated key documents into Spanish, and had all 270 employees participate in cultural competency training, resulting in improved access to health care for the growing Hispanic/Latino community.

The Housing Authority of Louisville committed to replace one-for-one the 728 public housing units that are being demolished for the redevelopment of the Clarksdale Housing Development, meaning that Louisville will not lose any badly needed affordable housing units.

JCPS implemented the Direct Instruction (DI) reading curriculum in several struggling elementary schools; the result is that thousands of more kids are reading at or above grade level.

JCPS developed a program of supervised suspensions, so students on suspension would not be out in the community during the school day getting into trouble and falling further behind on their schoolwork.

The narcotics department of the Louisville Police made over 150 arrests of drug dealers in the California neighborhood, which cleaned up the open street sales of drugs in that area.

TARC installed 6 bus shelters up and down Dixie Highway where there were none, so that people no longer have to stand out in the rain and snow to wait for a bus.

Current Membership

Presently, 19 congregations and groups with over 16,000 individual members are members of CLOUT. We come from all parts of the Louisville Metro area, and we represent a diverse mix of persons by race, economic class, and religious traditions.

Board of Directors

  • Co-President – Rev. Larry Sykes, Greater Good Hope Baptist Church
  • Co-President – Beverly Duncan, Jeff Street Baptist Community
  • Vice-President – Jimmy Mills, Mosaic United Methodist Church
  • Treasurer – Karen Williams, Centennial Olivet Baptist Church
  • Recording Secretary – Melissa Kratzer, Third Lutheran Church
  • Corresponding Secretary – David Dutschke, Catholic Charities
  • Chris Kolb, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
  • Hugh Ella Robinson, Westwood Presbyterian Church
  • Jane Gilliam, Mosaic United Methodist Church
  • Courtland Rose, Fourth Ave. United Methodist Church
  • John Reed, St. Augustine Catholic Church
  • Elissa Hill, St. Edward Catholic Church
  • Carl Liggin, St. Paul A.M.E. Church
  • Barbara Lee, Third Lutheran Church
  • Steve Bogus, Catholic Charities
  • Larry Sykes, Greater Good Hope Baptist Church
  • Mike Kolb, St. Pius X Catholic Church
  • Joyce Voss, Epiphany Catholic Church
  • Reginald Barnes, Brown Memorial CME Church
  • Theresa Hazard, Bethel Baptist Church
  • Evelyn Clark, Bethel Baptist Church

Contact Us

1113 S. 4th St. Suite 350
Louisville, KY 40203
Tel. 502-583-1267
www.cloutky.org

Robert Owens
Lead Organizer
clout@bellsouth.net

Anne Schwartz
Associate Organizer
anne@thedartcenter.org

Camille Bradford
Associate Organizer
camille@thedartcenter.org