Valley Interfaith Project is a broad-based non-profit organization with member institutions, not individuals. Membership criteria involve paying dues, recommended at 1% of the institution’s operating budget, and active leadership participation in the organization.
Because it is strictly non-partisan, VIP accepts no political contributions, nor government grants.
VIP’s Executive Board functions as a decision making body for the organization; the board develops and implements strategies, conducts recruitment, hires personnel and raises funds. The board is elected at the organization’s annual Delegates Assembly and terms last for one year. Each board member is also a leader in their local core organizing team in each institution. VIP employs a Lead Organizer, additional Organizer(s), and an Office Manager.
Valley Interfaith Project believes that leaders are grown, not born. Leaders are those who develop their public selves and are interested in the development of healthy public life and civic culture. Leaders are grown through taking action on their own interests and by systematic reflection on their actions.
This process begins at the local institutional level with conversation. “Listening in an art, requiring discipline and training, the art of asking the right questions about children, about the neighborhood, about work, encouraging a person to speak about what s/he feels is important. In articulating one’s own concerns, a person may for the first begins at time be making clear to him or herself what those concerns are.” (from the IAFs Organizing for Family and Congregation)
The relational meeting is a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting where people begin to share real stories and concerns with one another. It is through these meetings that leaders begin to form public relationships with one another.
In these small group meetings leaders dig deeper into their institutions by listening to others’ stories, discerning common issues, and finding new leaders. It is through the house meeting process that the potential for action on issues begins to emerge.
As issues arise, leaders conduct research actions where they build their expertise and develop a course of action. Often, research actions involve conversations with key political, business, academic, nonprofit, educational leaders, and with others who are knowledgeable about the issue at hand.
With a new found understanding of the issue at hand, VIP leaders conduct civic academies in their institutions where they are able to teach others, hear new stories and concerns, and begin to move others into action.
In public meetings with political, business, or other officials, VIP leaders seek action on specific proposals that will create positive change for their community. VIP leaders and institutions find allies in these public officials who will work with them on the agenda that has been developed through the Cycle of Organizing.
Reflection and Evaluation
Central to the Cycle of Organizing are reflection and evaluation. These are the primary tools by which leadership is developed. As part of a culture of reflection and evaluation, VIP leaders fine-tune their skills for public life and make their voices more effective.