The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) is a multi-issue national ecumenical agency, which was founded in 1967 by progressive church leaders and activists. For more than four decades, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) has assisted hundreds of community organizations and public policy groups – by providing technical assistance, training organizers, making and administering grants, and using our global network of grassroots organizers, clergy, and other professionals to advance the struggles of oppressed people for justice and self-determination.
For nearly half a century, IFCO has assisted the poor and disenfranchised in developing and sustaining community organizations to fight human and civil rights injustices. This work includes education about the realities of the poor in the US and the third world and to organize and to assist local communities who are organizing around issues of racial, social, and economic justice.
IFCO’s mission is to support the disenfranchised in developing and sustaining community organizations to fight human and civil rights injustices. In pursuit of this mission, IFCO promotes, funds and coordinates domestic and international community development efforts – programs designed to improve people’s own communities.
The first national foundation directed and controlled by people of color, IFCO has acted as a bridge between predominantly mainline churches and community groups conceived of and run by people of color; as a broker for the channeling of interdenominational support; and as a resource bank supporting the work of congregations and organizations engaged in the work of community-building. IFCO has acted as a monitor, supporting self-determination by the poor, the hungry, and the exploited and insuring that their needs are not sacrificed for the priorities of the privileged in American society. IFCO has acted as a catalyst and a conscience in the movement for social justice.
More about our National and International Work
IFCO has initiated, advised, and given support to hundreds of community-based projects in all regions of the US, and has stimulated progressive social ministry in many local churches. IFCO’s work has focused on both domestic and international issues: on civil and human rights, education, housing, and health care; women’s rights, farmworkers’ rights, Native Americans’ rights; sterilization abuse, grand jury abuse; and the support of liberation struggles around the world. Among the tools IFCO has used to fulfill its mission are technical assistance, training, grassroots education, networking, and the creation of new organizing models.
Since its inception, IFCO has provided support for grassroots community organizing projects in urban and rural regions across the United States.
IFCO’s international work, which began in Africa in the 1970s, has focused on Central America and the Caribbean since the early 1980s. IFCO’s project Pastors for Peace was founded in 1988, one day after IFCO’s founding director, Lucius Walker, Jr., survived a first-hand terrorist attack by the Nicaraguan Contra forces. The project was designed to respond to the brutality of that so-called “low-intensity war” with actions based in peaceful resistance.
The objective of our first Pastors for Peace caravan was to galvanize direct hands-on solidarity with the victims of US foreign policy in Nicaragua — to educate US citizens at the grassroots about the brutality of US policy, and to engage them in actively resisting that policy by sending aid to the Nicaraguan people. Over the years the project has grown and generalized; since 1988, we have successfully organized dozens of caravans of humanitarian aid to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Chiapas (Mexico) and Cuba. In many ways, the culmination of this work has been the series of annual “Friendshipment” caravans which IFCO/Pastors for Peace delivers to Cuba. Since 1992, IFCO has worked to bring an end to the immoral and unjust US economic blockade of Cuba and has provided humanitarian aid to the Cuban people through Friendshipment caravans, construction brigades and educational delegations. These caravans have delivered countless tons of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, as a nonviolent direct challenge to the brutal US economic blockade of Cuba. The caravans, brigades and delegations have also provided an opportunity for numerous US citizens to see Cuba with their own eyes. In addition to the Friendshipment caravans to Cuba, IFCO organizes study tours, delegations, construction brigades, speaking tours, exchanges, and advocacy projects in various parts of Central America and the Caribbean, all in favor of a more humane US foreign policy in our hemisphere. IFCO also provides support for grassroots community organizing projects in urban and rural regions of the United States.
IFCO is honored to have been chosen to administer the scholarship program for US applicants to Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine. IFCO was chosen by former Cuban President Fidel Castro to play this role because of its history of prophetic work in solidarity with Cuba; its close relationship with the Congressional Black Caucus; and its historic commitment to support efforts to improve the quality of life in our nation’s most under-served communities.
Continuing to Struggle for Peace and Justice since 1967
As we look toward future, we see many familiar political themes on our horizon: the wholesale undermining of human and civil rights; government contempt for the poor; dismantling of hard-won gains and freedoms; oppressive foreign and domestic policies. Now more than ever, IFCO rededicates itself to fund, nurture and support the organizations that it helped to get started — networking them into a larger arena and watching them flourish and do wonderful, world-changing things. IFCO renews its commitment to continue to support the efforts of people who struggle for justice–“until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream”. (Amos 5.24)
This is our continuing commitment to our family;
Some of whom are living, many of whom have passed away,
and most of whom are yet unborn…