Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together
The Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together (IMPACT) Organization, is a constituent-led, grassroots initiative that brings together Charlottesville’s diverse faith community to address the root causes of serious community problems. IMPACT is not a direct service organization, meaning we do not provide services such as food or shelter to those in need. Rather, we are a direct action organization, committed to empowering local leaders to identify problems and develop solutions to address systemic problems at their source.
Since 2006, IMPACT has won a number of significant, sustainable improvements in public transportation, creating and sustaining affordable housing efforts, revitalizing low-income neighborhoods, reducing the academic achievement gap, and ensuring access to dental care for low-income and uninsured populations – all achieved through our direct action meetings each spring that bring together over 1,500 community members.
“We don’t want to sit around talking about problems, we need them to be resolved.”
– Father Dennis McAuliffe / Holy Comforter Catholic Church –
- Problem: People who relied on public transit could not get to work on Sundays or evenings; that people had to cross dangerous intersections like the I-64 interchange to be able to go grocery shopping; people were having to spend as much as $40 on taxis to get access social services because no bus line served the county government office;
- Solutions: Sunday bus service on the two most heavily traveled routes, night service on route 5, and creation of a new bus route to serve the county office building and low-income neighborhoods.
- Results: Not only can more people get to work and go shopping, but ridership has increased by as much as 75% on these routes.
DENTAL HEALTH (2008)
- Problem: There was a wait list over 1,000 names long for the uninsured to receive dental care; and that many uninsured dental cases were being seen in emergency rooms because they could not access primary dental care
- Solution: Creation of a Free Dental Clinic.
- Results: Since late 2009, the clinic has served over 6,000 uninsured patients and the wait list to receive dental care has been reduced by over two-thirds.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING (2007, 2008, & 2009)
- Problem: Far too many low- and middle-income individuals in the community are rent-burdened, meaning they pay at least 30% of income for housing, with some paying as much as 50% or more in income; there is also a 4,000 unit shortage of rental housing in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area
- Solutions: $6.75 million has been invested by the Charlottesville City Council into an affordable housing trust fund. The County has spent over $1 million to build or refurbish affordable units.
- Results: The City has built or preserved more than 274 units of affordable housing to date and in April broke ground on Charlottesville’s first mixed-income development. Since 2007, Albemarle County has built or refurbished 350 total units of affordable housing.
Pre-K EDUCATION (2009 & 2010)
- Problem: There is a clear academic achievement gap for low-income children. We learned that access to pre-K education significantly minimizes this achievement gap and helps ensure that all children receive a quality education that enables them to succeed beyond high school.
- Solutions: Increased enrollment and classroom expansion for low-income preschoolers.
- Results: Between 90 and 100% of enrolled children in three- and four-year-old classrooms are low-income. Significant achievement gap decreases, with as many as 100% of students passing 3rd grade PALS standardized tests. The City and County will continue to collaboratively expand to have 20+ pre-K classrooms and to increase enrollment to all children.
INTERPRETIVE SERVICES/LANGUAGE ACCESS (2010)
- Problem: There is a lack of availability of consistent quality language access services for individuals with limited-English proficiency (LEP). Many LEP individuals–including immigrants and refugees–have difficulties when interacting with law enforcement officials.
- Solution: The Regional Jail and both City and County Police Departments agreed to develop and implement LEP plans for their departments.
- Results: The City of Charlottesville Police Department has completed their LEP plan by training 100% of their officers in the proper protocol when addressing non-English speaking peoples. The Regional Jail now offers ESL to inmates and has identified documents to be translated to Spanish.
MENTAL HEALTH (2011)
- Problem: Ex-offenders with mental illness did not receive medication or therapy upon release from the jail or prison. No agency was equipped to provide treatment to this population, so many ex-offenders’ conditions would result in homelessness, a stay in the emergency room, or admission back into prison.
- Solution: Sustained City and County funding for Healthy Transitions, a psychiatric re-entry program between the local mental health community services board and the Probation and Parole office.
- Results: Ex-offenders only have to wait two weeks to get care, as opposed to the previous 11-month wait. Healthy Transitions is now hailed as a statewide best practice, and has reduced recidivism among participants to 10% as compared to the state 25% average. Before this program, ex-offenders were waiting up to 11 months to get care; now, the wait time is only two weeks.
YOUNG ADULT UNEMPLOYMENT (2011-2013)
- Problem: Young adults in our community were three times more likely to be unemployed than anyone else. Healthcare is the #1 growth industry in our region. There is a shortage of people trained in the healthcare field, because these jobs require post-high school training. 2/3 of young adults in our area do not have any post-high school education. Due to he high cost of tuition, these good healthcare jobs that give entry to the career ladder were simply out of reach.
- Solution: A collaborative job training program between our largest employer, UVa Health Systems and educational institutions that will to provide tuition waivers and other support for young adults seeking a family-supporting career in healthcare.
- Results: UVa Medical Center investing approximately $218,000 to engage and hire un-and underemployed 18-25 year-olds. Students will get Full tuition for 8-week Certified Nursing Assistant Training (Institution has 95% success rate), nighttime classes, day-to-day stipend, work place readiness and other soft skills training, and peer mentorship provided through the beginning to 12 months into employment at UVA. When they complete their training, if successful, students can begin work at UVA Medical Center with an average salary of $12.99/hr, expecting a 6% raise in 12 months.
- Problem: In 2013 there were approximately 500 homeless or unstably housed children enrolled in our city and county schools. In addition, we learned that there are roughly 200 homeless adults on any given night in our community. Our community lacked a community-wide strategy to move people into stable housing and ensuring that their people are getting the help that they need. Although one was created to end homelessness by 2012, little to no collective moves were being done to make that a reality.
- Solution: The establishment of a Roundtable to Reduce Homelessness”. This roundtable has acted as a coalition of organizations and institutions that are already trying to help mitigate our community’s growing homelessness problem. Increased cooperation will make our existing institutions more effective and efficient at moving people off of the streets and into stable housing.
- Results: Over $950,000 has been leveraged that would have been inaccessible for our community without collaboration. In 2014, 47 families were rehoused and 60 families were prevented from becoming homeless.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH (2014)
- Problem: 376 students in our public schools seriously considered suicide in 2012. While not all of these kids need psychiatric help, those who do were waiting an average of 3 months to see a psychiatrist at our largest mental health care provider (Region Ten); during this wait their crises continued. We learned that Region Ten offered only 15 hours of psychiatric care each week for their entire service area that spans Green, Louisa, Fluvanna Nelson and Albemarle Counties.
- Solution: Region Ten increase the hours they offer to 40 hours of child psychiatry each week.
- Results: A full-time child psychiatrist began working for Region Ten on May 1st, 2015. They anticipate being able to see over 300 additional kids each year as a result of this increase.
Currently, IMPACT has 26 member congregations that join together to work on the root causes of serious community problems. We represent over 15,000 people in the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the surrounding counties. IMPACT is a diverse organization that unites the community across socioeconomic, racial, geographic, and denominational backgrounds, including Protestant, Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions.