Guided by Unitarian Universalist principles, TXUUJM educates and organizes member congregations, and partners with sympathetic organizations in order to advocate effectively for public policies that:

  • Uphold the worth and dignity of every person;
  • Further justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • Ensure the use of the democratic process;
  • Protect religious freedom; and,
  • Promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence.

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TXUUJM Celebrates $3,000,000 in ACE Funding for Long Term Job Skills Training

June 1, 2014: By Mike Phillips, Chair, TXUUJM Steering Committee

2014-05-21--ProjectQUEST--500KACEgrantAWARD-c-650x350
San Antonio, Texas: Sr. Pearl Ceasar, Executive Director of
Project QUEST, announces $500,000 ACE Grant Award
More images at https://www.facebook.com/ProjectQUESTInc
View Press Release. Article Author, Mike Phillips,
holding papers front row, 3rd from right.
May 27, 2014: Dr. Priscilla Kimery, Executive Director of Skill QUEST, announces award of $500,000 ACE Fund grant to expand Long Term Job Skill Training in Dallas area.
Dallas, Texas: Dr. Priscilla Kimery,Executive Director
of Skill QUEST, announces $500,000 ACE Grant Award
Watch the 22 minute press conference on Vimeo
or view news coverage by WFAA, Dallas TV Channel 8

TXUUJM leaders active in the last Legislative session have a proud announcement to make. We are celebrating the award of state grants totaling $3 million for programs that support long term job training in Texas. The legislation that UU leaders and the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Network of Organizations fought for and won from the Texas Legislature in 2013 would not have passed without our TXUUJM involvement.

It is encouraging that our Advisory TXUUJM Committee Members selected Income Inequality as one of the three most important issues for the 2015 Legislative session. The bill that UUs fought for last session, HB 437, is aimed at getting low income workers out of poverty and into good jobs.

Wildflower UU in Austin, First UU San Antonio and First U Dallas, active members of TXUUJM, are also active with their local interfaith community organizing networks and part of the Texas IAF. Last legislative session, TXUUJM worked with the Texas IAF Network and together we were able to pass an important $5 million bill with broad bi-partisan support. That bill was designed to fund local long term job training programs that were founded by six IAF community organizations across the state.

These local long term job training programs recruit low wage workers and provide tuition help, counseling, wrap-around services and social service referrals for things like daycare and help with utility bills. The participants, many of whom are single parents, are trained in two year certificate or affiliate degree programs at local community colleges for jobs that are in high demand in the local economy. The first of these long term job training programs, called Project QUEST, started in San Antonio over 20 years ago. QUEST has helped over 3,500 adults move from poverty to family living wage jobs with benefits. QUEST trains in fields like aerospace, healthcare, dental care, diesel mechanics and now, computer coding. Proven programs like QUEST have a nearly 90% on time completion rate and employers scramble to hire the graduates at wages of $20/hour or higher.

First UU San Antonio helped found QUEST. Alan and Gwen Lummus with First U Dallas helped found Dallas’ Skill QUEST and Alan serves on their Board, Mike Phillips with First UU San Antonio is a long time Board Member with Project QUEST San Antonio, and Wildflower UU has many leaders working hard to support Capital Idea, Austin’s long term job training program.

UUs were at the center of last session’s successful effort to pass HB 437, the Adult Career Education Fund or ACE Fund. Many UUs from Dallas, San Antonio and Austin came to the Capitol to talk to their State Representatives and State Senators about the bill. Our TXUUJM Board Chair Mike Phillips helped write the bill and gave key testimony at a critical House Education Committee hearing that gave life to the bill. He traveled to Austin 14 times and stayed late into the night on the last day of the session to make sure it got brought to the floor and passed. “UUs don’t usually believe in miracles,” said Mike, “but our efforts and results last session were as close to a miracle as I’ve seen.”

QUEST and its 6 sister programs will each receive grants of $500,000. Alan Lummus said, “This is especially huge for Dallas’ Skill QUEST because this is the first substantial grant we’ve received. I believe this grant can change the conversation with our city and county leaders and lead to more local funding.” Mike estimates that this new funding will help as many as 2,500 low wage Texas workers permanently escape poverty through education.

Considering that Income Inequality is one of our top three issues for the 2015 session, it will be important for us to continue our alliance with the Texas IAF and to continue to advocate for future funding for ACE, whose mission supports our UU values.

TMO/Capital Idea Houston announce $500,000 ACE Grant Award
Houston, Texas: TMO/Capital Idea Houston announce
$500,000 ACE Grant Award

Across Texas, the IAF Programs receiving ACE funding are: