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Learn Pray Blog is the official blog of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Our goal is to create a space where Virginians can promote the faith voice on issues such as poverty & the working poor, at-risk children & youth, Caring for God’s Creation and others.
Posted by: Trey on 2/3/2014

In 2012, in a Super Bowl commercial, actor Clint Eastwood proclaimed that it is half-time in America.  He called for America’s comeback and a focus on what’s ahead.  Midway through the 2014 General Assembly session, it could be said that it is half-time in Virginia as well.

Virginia has done better that most other states to survive the economic recession of the past several years. This, despite decreased government spending and cuts to defense that has impacted Hampton Roads and other Virginia military communities.  Nationally, we have seen the gap between rich and poor grow wider than ever.  And in Virginia, we proudly announce that we are ranked number one for business by Forbes but it remains to be seen what we will do for struggling families.

The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is working to help close the health care gap.  Making Medicaid available for more people will keep families healthy, save money and create the new jobs that will care for people. We also think that cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program should keep pace with inflation and provide the extra help to get kids ready for school with money for school supplies and clothes.  Similarly, the Earned Income Credit (EIC) in Virginia which rewards work for low-income families would really make a difference if it were fully refundable, just like the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

To paraphrase Clint Eastwood, “all that counts is what’s ahead.” We are at a critical time in our economic recovery when we can set aside our differences and look to the future with confidence.  As of 2013, an estimated 7,000 immigrant students in Virginia are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that authorizes them to live, work, and attend school in the United States.  Only a small percentage of these will seek a four-year degree from a Virginia school, but for those that do, we should offer in-state tuition to make college more affordable.  If they can show proof of residency and if they have paid taxes for at least three years in Virginia, then we want these high-achievers to go as far as their ability and ambition will take them.

We have a lot to be thankful for in Virginia but we must continue to work hard to ensure that the future remains bright.  We want all Virginians to start the second half on a level playing field with equal opportunities for an education and for the help they need as they raise their families.

It’s half-time in Virginia and the future is ours to chart.

Peace be with you,

Marco A. Grimaldo
Posted by: Trey on 1/27/2014

Despite the unexpected wintry weather, we were so pleased to have over 170 advocates converge on the Capitol for our annual advocacy day, Day for All People, this past Tuesday. Advocates met with their legislators to ensure that good public policy to promote fairness and properly address the needs of our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable remain the focus of the 2014 session.

Closing the coverage gap for the 400,000 uninsured Virginians, strengthening background checks for firearms, and allowing in-state tuition for students that qualify for the deferred action (DACA) program  were among a few of the key policy priorities advocates spoke about with their legislators and of which still remain of great importance.

Tuesday’s Day for All People kicked off a series of a faithful advocacy days that continued with Episcopal Day at the Capitol Jan. 23.  This week Presbyterian Advocacy Day will take place on Jan.28th and Catholic Advocacy Day will be held on Jan. 30th.  Jewish Advocacy Day will be Feb.5th and United Methodist Day will be held on Feb. 6th.For more information check out our website.  

As the session continues to move quickly, we will work to keep you up to date with the status of legislation and timely action alerts to make your advocacy more effective.  

Join us every Sunday evening for our legislative briefing calls from 7:30 - 8:30 pm. We will review the status of the Center’s legislative priorities and give your our best sense of what the week ahead will hold for the General Assembly.

Sunday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 pm

Conference Call:   (805) 360-1000

Access Code: 26277#.

We are approaching the midpoint (February 11th) of this legislative session and bills are beginning to move swiftly through the process.  Many bills have already been eliminated, so your call to support or oppose the policies that matter to you will be even more influential in the weeks ahead. For our most up to date legislative issue briefs, please check this page as updates will be made regularly.

This past week we commemorated the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who famously wrote, “even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.”  Too often we see politics that is driven by fear. But we must remember that the opposite of fear is not courage but hope.  You offer hope to people in the Commonwealth of Virginia seeking justice every time you meet or contact your legislators and we are better off for your action.  

While your advocacy actions are important this time of year, we also need your continuing financial support to help start the year. A $50 or $100 contribution is vital to ensuring we are able to respond swiftly and effectively to the actions of the General Assembly and continue to keep you informed!  I hope that you will take a moment a make a gift online to support us during this crucial stretch of the legislative session.

Again, you actions offer hope to people in need.  Thank you.

Marco A. Grimaldo
Posted by: Trey on 1/20/2014

With forecasts calling for snow impacting several regions of our state tomorrow, we wanted to take a moment to update you on the status of our Day for All People advocacy day.

We are planning to hold Day for All People as scheduled tomorrow, January 21st, with check-in beginning at 8am.  The buses from Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are planning for pick-ups in the morning as scheduled.

For those traveling from areas potentially impacted by greater snow accumluation, you will have the option to leave when you feel appropriate.  Those traveling on the Nothern Virginia bus will also have the option to return early.  Boxed lunches will be available at noon and can be taken with you if you choose to leave early.

A small shuttle will be available to move folks from the Convention Center to the General Assembly, but we hope that major precipitation will hold off and enable those who are able to make the short walk to do so.

If you have registered and paid in advance and will not be attending Day for All People due to inclement weather, please contact Trey Eggleston (804-643-2474, ext. 112 ortrey@virginiainterfaithcenter.org) for a refund of your registration fee.

If you have any additional questions regarding tomorrow's advocacy day, please contact Center staff(804-643-2474).

We look forward to seeing those who are able to make it in Richmond tomorrow for a day of faithful advocacy!

Posted by: Trey on 1/6/2014

2013 was an exciting year at the Center as we continued to grow in several areas, including our membership and organizing capacity.   Our members and advocates played an important role in shaping public policy that impacts low-income families and communities.  The Center held programs and educational activities in communities across the state, from Blacksburg and Warrenton to Richmond, Alexandria and Virginia Beach, while continuing to build up the voice of the faith community to speak-up on important issues in our Commonwealth.  To that end, I would like to call your attention to our 2013 Annual Report for a full recap of the year that was.

This year will be the Center’s 32nd year of guiding faithful advocates through the General Assembly.  We will again bring people together for our annual advocacy day, Day for All People, on Tuesday, January 21st.  More than 300 advocates will join us for a day of learning and action with in depth issue briefs and a walk over to the Capitol to meet with legislators.  You may register for this event online by following this link.

Additionally, many faith denominations are holding their own advocacy days throughout the 60-day session of the General Assembly.  Check our calendar for denominational advocacy days.

Beyond the General Assembly, we will continue to host educational programs with our Chapters and in other regions throughout the state.  To connect with a Chapter in your area, follow this link.

Finally, 2014 marks an opportunity to continue to expand our membership base.  Financial support from individuals is a critical component of our fundraising efforts and is vital to our ongoing work.  A membership contribution of $50, $100, or $150 helps to pay for free educational programs and advocacy trainings throughout Virginia, as well as provide important tools to inform legislators and the public.  If you are not already among our nearly 500 members from across the state, I encourage you to become one today by making a gift online!

The year ahead is full of pressing challenges and exciting opportunities.  I hope that you will join us in our advocacy efforts at the General Assembly and offer your support by becoming a member of the Center this year!


Marco A. Grimaldo

Posted by: SuperUser Account on 12/27/2013

The year is drawing to a close and so my colleagues and I want to join the Board of Directors in thanking you for your support and advocacy throughout 2013.  The Vision of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy remains clear and strong – to bring about a world where people of all faiths cooperate to create compassionate communities that are just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable. You help make that happen and we are grateful.
We are already working on plans for 2014 and perhaps some of you will join us for Day for All People or any of the several faith-based advocacy days during the General Assembly.  I hope you will call on us to support your efforts in any way that we can.

If the work of the Virginia Interfaith Center is important to you and if you would like to make a year-end contribution, you can do so online and have it count toward our goal of increasing our local organizing efforts.  In 2013 we made big gains in organizing and we will work to exceed these in the year ahead, so please consider an extra gift today.

Again, I want to thank you for your leadership in showing that well-informed and motivated people can act on faith to make a difference in the lives of others in need.
Peace and blessings for the year ahead.

Marco A. Grimaldo
President & CEO

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