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Faith in Action

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Faith in Action
Formation1972; 52 years ago (1972)
FounderJohn Baumann
PurposeCommunity organizing for progressive public policy change
HeadquartersOakland, California
MethodsFaith-based community organizing
Executive Director
Rev. Alvin Herring
Revenue (2013)

Faith in Action, formerly known as Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO National Network), is a national network of faith-based community organizations in the United States. The organization is headquartered in Oakland, California, with additional offices in San Diego and Washington, D.C. The organization believes in a society free of economic oppression, racism and discrimination. Its stated mission is "to increase access to health care, improve public schools, make neighborhoods safer, build affordable housing, redevelop communities and revitalize democracy."[2]

Faith in Action supports full citizenship for undocumented immigrants.[3][4] The organization also supports universal health care.[5][6][7]


Faith in Action was founded in 1972 by Fr John Baumann, SJ, as the Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO), headquartered in Oakland, California. In the late 1960s, Baumann had worked with community organizing projects in Chicago, where he became familiar with Saul Alinsky's ideas. During the 1970s, Faith in Action worked with five neighborhood-based organizations, recruiting individuals and families. As neighborhoods experienced the economic and social upheavals of that decade, the neighborhood-based model of organizing became less viable as communities fractured.[8]

Following a staff retreat in 1984, Faith in Action shifted to a congregation-based model based in part on the experience of COPS, a federation in San Antonio, Texas developed by Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation. As it expanded beyond the West Coast, in 2004 PICO characterized its acronym as standing for People Improving Communities through Organizing. In 2005, it renamed itself PICO National Network, emphasizing the autonomy of its affiliated organizations, and its role developing national strategy, training, and consultation.[9]

The shift to faith-based organizing has emphasized the importance of religious culture to Faith in Action. Its base in northern California meant that Faith in Action could draw on the traditions of a variety of denominations. Sociology professor Richard Wood, who serves on Faith in Action's board of directors, writes that this includes "the social Christianity of the historic black churches, the Social Gospel and Christian realist perspectives in moderate and liberal Protestantism, the strongly evangelical but socially responsible orientation of the Church of God in Christ, and the intellectual resources, working-class commitments, and Hispanic cultural ties of Roman Catholicism."[8]

In May 2018, PICO National Network officially changed its name to Faith in Action.[10]


PICO's California Project led a $190 million public bond initiative for public school infrastructure.[11] PICO's New Voices Campaign, launched in 2004, seeks to help low-income communities have an impact at the national level on such issues as immigration reform, health care, education, and rebuilding the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.[12] In October 2008, PICO announced plans for a mid-November meeting in Washington, D.C., in which its affiliates would lobby Congress, the United States Treasury Department, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to help people keep their homes when facing foreclosure.[13]


The Ford Foundation is a major donor to Faith in Action.[14] In 2015, Faith in Action was added to the list of the Democracy Alliance's recommended funding targets.[15] Faith in Action has received funding from the Open Society Foundations.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "IRS Form 990 2013" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  2. ^ "About Us". Faith in Action. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Campaign for Citizenship". PICO National Network. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  4. ^ Maule, Alicia; Lee, Traci (October 13, 2014). "Immigration advocate works to hold both parties accountable". MSNBC. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  5. ^ Woodruff, Judy (May 28, 2007). "Advocates Push to Extend Children's Health Insurance Program". PBS. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  6. ^ Gilgoff, Dan (August 10, 2009). "Religious Progressives Flex New Muscle in Pushing Healthcare". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  7. ^ Farris Rosen, Anne; Clement, Scott (October 8, 2009). "Religious Groups Weigh In on Health Care Reform". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b Wood, Richard (2002). Faith in Action: Religion, Race, and Democratic Organizing in America. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226905952.
  9. ^ Walls, David (Summer 1994). "Power to the People: Thirty-five Years of Community Organizing". The Workbook: 52–55. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Faith in Action | Faith in Action". www.faithinaction.org.
  11. ^ Espinosa, Gastón; Elizondo, Virgilio; Miranda, Jesse (2005). Latino Religions and Civic Activism in the United States. Oxford University Press. p. 148. ISBN 9780195162288.
  12. ^ Wuthnow, Robert (2007). Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion. CQ Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780872893238.
  13. ^ Carolyn Said (2008-10-28). "Faith-based effort to avert foreclosures". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  14. ^ "PICO National Network". Ford Foundation. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  15. ^ Carrasquillo, Adrian (April 15, 2015). "Latino Leaders Frustrated At Liberal Donor Plan To Fund 35 Groups, Zero Latino Groups". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  16. ^ Riddell, Kelly (January 14, 2015). "George Soros funds Ferguson protests, hopes to spur civil action". Washington Times. Retrieved 4 June 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Whitman, Gordon, "Beyond Advocacy: The History & Vision of the PICO Network," Social Policy, vol. 37, No. 2 (Winter 2006/2007), pp. 50–59.
  • Wood, Richard L., "Higher Power: Strategic Capacity for State and National Organizing," pp. 162–192 in Transforming the City: Community Organizing and the Challenge of Political Change, edited by Marion Orr (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007).

External links[edit]