PCI supports pre-kindergarten scholarships in Pima County

Childhood education


Pima County Interfaith urged Pima County Supervisors to extend funding for the Preschool Promise program to support pre-kindergarten for low income families and, on May 4, they did exactly that (scroll down to see the letter of support PCI submitted to the board.)

The approved plan allocates up to $10 million in County funds - plus $3 million from municipalities and partners - to help families with a household income of 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or less to pay preschool tuition for their children aged 3-5. A total of 1,245 children may be reached.

Here is the PCI letter of support:

Dear Pima County Board of Supervisors,

On behalf of Pima County Interfaith, we are writing to support the goal of making high-quality preschool available for all our children a reality. Your leadership is helping pave the way for achieving this goal.

We applaud your votes on February 16, 2021 directing county administration to include ten million dollars in the budget to fund scholarships for the coming 2022 fiscal year. That shows our community that now is the time to step forward and contribute to the preschool promise scholarship program. Because of your leadership, cities and towns, state agencies, businesses, public school districts, faith communities, and nonprofit organizations are likely to join the effort.

We support and encourage you to provide ongoing support for the program when you meet on May 4th. This multi-year program has the potential to become a model for similar efforts throughout the state and country.

Thank you,
Pima County Interfaith
Executive/Strategy Team

PCI partners with Pima Department of Health on vaccine distribution

PCI member St. John's the Evangelist served as a COVID vaccination site for the Pima Department of Health earlier this spring. PCI leaders arranged the partnership after Pima County Health Director, Dr. Theresa Cullen, expressed concern about the difficulty that many at-risk individuals might face travelling to a vaccination site. More than 500 low-income vulnerable elderly individuals received their first shot of the vaccine on February 6 and returned one month later for their second shot. 

PCI, VIP Clergy Help Advance Arizona's Stay-at-Home Order, Express Concern About Broad Definition of Essential Services

The governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order still loosely defines essential businesses as golf courses, nail salons and gun shops. These employees would have to continue reporting to work, catering to non-essential needs, at great risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to others. That’s in no one’s interest....

COVID-19 Demands That We All Make Sacrifices for the Common WelfareArizona Mirror [pdf]

Ducey Orders Arizonians to Stay Home Except for 'Essential Activities' Due to CoronavirusArizona Daily Star [pdf]

Arizona Mayors to Gov. Ducey: Issue a Shelter-In-Place OrderAZ Family [pdf]

PCI, with West/Southwest IAF, Sharpens Focus on Impact of COVID-19 Crisis on Immigrants

After the Covid-19 pandemic precipitated an economic crisis of historic proportions, the Industrial Areas Foundation launched a campaign calling on Congress to provide direct monthly aid for the duration of the crisis to American workers -- regardless of their citizenship.

While the recently passed $2.2 Trillion emergency stimulus will provide adults a one-time $1,200 check, it is set to leave out undocumented immigrants -- including those who pay taxes using a Tax Identification Number.  IAF organizations across the West / Southwest IAF working with immigrant communities lay out the implications of this decision below:    

[Excerpts below]

Health care is a concern to both undocumented immigrants and legal residents....  Last August, the Trump administration tightened restrictions on legal immigrants who receive government benefits, referred to as 'public charges.' The new policy denies green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits.

Immigrants in the Dallas area mask their symptoms so they can continue to work, according to Josephine López Paul, lead organizer with Dallas Area Interfaith.

“We’ve seen our service industries obliterated,” said Ms. López Paul. “Immigrants are being hit the hardest right now and there’s no safety net for them.”


When undocumented immigrants do approach hospitals, they quickly turn away if they see any law enforcement present, according to Ana Chavarin, lead organizer of Pima County Interfaith in Tucson, Ariz. Families are less afraid of the virus itself and more concerned with how they would pay for a long-term hospital visit, she said.

Ms. Chavarin has met with families who, not knowing how long the pandemic will last or when they will find work again, have begun rationing food. “Because they are undocumented, they cannot apply for any kind of help,” she said. Some have U.S. citizen children and could apply for benefits on their behalf, she said. But fear of deportation keeps many from doing so.


Food is the number one concern for pastors in Houston, according to Elizabeth Valdez, lead organizer for The Metropolitan Organization. Some parishes and congregations have started to purchase gift cards for food while others are collecting items for the church pantry. Local chapters of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are gathering items, but since they often count on elderly volunteers, it has been a challenge.

Children cut off from school presents another challenge for low-income families. “The kids being home, [families] don’t always have the technology they need to keep up with school,” Ms. Valdez said.


“There has to be a way to get the money into the hands of service workers,” said Joe Rubio, director of the West/Southwest Industrial Area Foundation, a community organizing network. Pastors are seeing an increase in domestic violence, he said, likely stemming from frustration, economic pressure and children being home from school. Studies have found that immigrant survivors of domestic violence are unlikely to report abuse to law enforcement. Isolation and behavioral health issues have the potential to lead to an increase in suicide rates, he said.

“This could profoundly change the nature of parishes and congregations,” Mr. Rubio said, referring not only to the economic impact of the coronavirus but also how communities respond to those in need during the crisis. “We have to think about how we compensate those making the biggest sacrifices and how we ramp up the economy once it’s over.”

[Photo Credit: John Locher, AP Photo]

Stimulus Does Little to Stifle Covid-19 Fears in the Undocumented CommunityAmerica [pdf]

PCI Organizer Ana Chavarin Awarded CCHD Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award

At a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) General Assembly reception in Baltimore, Pima County Interfaith (PCI) organizer Ana Chavarin was awarded the Cardinal Joseph Bernadin New Leadership Award.  Each year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) honors individuals, like Ana, who "demonstrate leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions."

Having worked with PCI for the past four years, Ana was originally nominated by the Diocese of Tucson’s Office of Human Life & Dignity.  Said Sr. Leonette Kochan, the department's former director:  “Ana's Catholic faith motivates and inspires her role as a parent, faith community member, and leader in the wide range of social outreach initiatives in which she participates.  Her courageous determination and the support of others found expression in her life of service to others, especially in programs that empower the lives of others. As a person who faces economic struggles as a single parent of four children, Ana also leads by example in balancing family life with work, while pursuing a college degree.” 

In 2018 she won a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) award for Hispanic Catholic Leaders and was also recognized by the Arizona Daily Star for her community achievements (see links further below).  

[In photo, Ana Chavarin prepares Spanish-speaking parish ministers for leadership.]

Ana Chavarin is Winner of 2019 CCHD Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership AwardUSCCB [pdf]

Remarks from Ana Chavarin, the 2019 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award WinnerUSCCB [pdf]

Once Cheated, Community Leader Now Helps Others Speak with United VoiceCatholic News Service [pdf]

Celebrating Hispanic Catholic Leaders for JusticeUSCCB 

Neto's Tucson: Ana Chavarin is a Single Mom, an Immigrant and a SuccessArizona Daily Star [pdf]

PCI Organizer Ana Chavarin Wins National Recognition

Pima County Interfaith (PCI) organizer Ana Chavarin was recently named the 2019 National Recipient of the Cardinal Joseph Bernadin New Leadership Award by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

This honor, awarded annually to an outstanding young adult, recognizes the leadership, energy and diverse skills that young people bring to the anti-poverty work of community organizing projects and Catholic parishes.

Ana was nominated by the Diocese of Tucson’s Office of Human Life & Dignity, and she will be formally presented with the Cardinal Bernadin award at the November meeting of the US Catholic Bishops to be held in Baltimore later this year.

Ana has worked with PCI for the past four years. 

In 2018 she won a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) award for Hispanic Catholic Leaders (see below).   She was also recognized by the Arizona Daily Star for her community achievements (see further below).  

Celebrating Hispanic Catholic Leaders for JusticeUSCCB 

Neto's Tucson: Ana Chavarin is a Single Mom, an Immigrant and a SuccessArizona Daily Star [pdf]

2018 was a banner year for Pima County Interfaith

We’d like to share a little bit about the work you helped us accomplish. Thanks to your support we have:
  • Organized over 120 house meetings, a dozen civic academies, and a very successful candidate accountability session.
  • Encouraged our fellow citizens to vote by completing non-partisan voter registration, voter education, and get-out-the-vote activities. 
  • Secured increased funding for JobPath from both the county and city. The May graduation featured over 100 young Pima County residents who have graduated and been hired for local living wage careers such as aircraft technicians, nurses, electricians, and dental assistants.
“Three months into my (R.N.) program my husband abandoned our family… 
I remember the day the afterschool program denied my kids because our balance was past due. . . Without JobPath I wouldn’t have seen my graduation day…
Last Thursday I received my first check as an R.N.”
  • Trained over a hundred Hispanic community members to identify issues such as training, jobs and citizenship and to become active leaders in their communities. 
  • Worked with legislators at the capitol to pass an extension of Prop. 301 to continue a one-cent sales tax for education. 
  • Initiated a pilot neighborhood initiative with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, area congregations and schools to address the needs and concerns of one of Pima County’s poorest and most diverse communities.
  • Collaborated with a diverse group of organizations like the Tucson Police Department, the Pima County Sheriff’s office, Catholic Community Services, the YWCA, and the City Parks and Recreation Department to keep drugs out of our neighborhood parks, find refuge for immigrants seeking asylum, and engage local citizens in developing solutions for issues in their communities.
I remember my mom making us white rice for dinner because that was all we had… Now, as a father, I don’t want my children to go through what I went through…
I’m working (now) so I can better the lives of my children and other children.”
- Rene, Community Food Bank Intern and Accountability Session speaker

We have an ambitious plan to engage even more congregations, non-profits and business supporters in the work of making Tucson and Pima County a family-friendly, well-educated and engaged community.

We’ll need your help in identifying initiatives that underscore the commitment to improve the quality of life in the community that we live in. It takes all of us to be involved to ensure a positive outcome.

​-PCI Executive Strategy Team

PCI Advances Agenda of Issues with Arizona State Legislator

Following up on a commitment leveraged in a nonpartisan accountability assembly last fall, Pima County Interfaith leaders met with Rep. Kirsten Engel to advance the PCI agenda of issues.  Leaders engaged with the legislator around concerns related to education, food security, the environment and health -- and potential opportunities in the upcoming legislative session to advance these concerns.

Rep. Kirsten Engel had attended the Pima County Interfaith Accountability Session in September, along with other candidates, and publicly committed to collaborating with leaders, if elected.  

Candidates State Case for Election inside packed Pima County ForumKOLD News 13

Voter Turnout In Pima Up 28%!

The PCI Elections Count! team met this week to review its work and the election results. Here are a few observations and voting results from the races we featured at our accountability session.
  1. Voter turnout in Pima County improved dramatically from 39% in 2014 to 67% this year. Certainly the close races and #redfored enthusiasm played a significant role, but PCI certainly did our part!
  2. Chasing thousands of non-partisan PEVL’s (calling to encourage voters on the Permanent Early Voting Lists) in low-voter precincts near PCI congregations may have had a positive impact (we are still waiting for the final precinct numbers)
  3. Encouraging Citizenship Sabbaths in PCI and ally congregations helped with turnout (bulletin and pulpit announcements, email blasts and non-partisan issue sheets) since these reached close to 40,000 residents. 
  4. Using Commitment-to-Vote cards in congregations and at the 700+ accountability session at St. Pius X encouraged voting and recruited more volunteers.
  5. People seemed to like making PEVL calls and those called seemed to appreciate non-partisan encouragement to vote.

Races & Bonds that were featured at the PCIC Accountability Session:

CD2: Ann Kirkpatrick - 152,514 (54%)  
Leah Marquez Peterson - 127,796 (46%)
LD10 House: K. Engel - 46,608 / D. DeGrazia - 40,490      
Todd Clodfelter, 36,726 
LD2 House: R. Gabaldon: 29,009 / D. Hernandez: 28,999       
L-C.Ackerley 21,130 / A.Sizer: 20,744
City Parks & Rec. Bond 407: YES - 83,426 (56%) 
NO - 66,404 (44%)  PASSED - Yeah!
County Road Bond 463
NO - 194,381 (56%) 
YES - 151,841 (44%)  FAILED. Folks should stop complaining about our roads if they are not willing to pay the taxes necessary to fix them.
And here’s an interesting question:
Did Sinema win due to Pima?  The margin of victory for Kyrsten Sinema in Pima Co. was 54,270 votes while she only won Maricopa Co. by 48,813 votes. Thus, the argument could be made that if she hadn’t won “big” in McSally’s backyard, Sinema might have lost the race!

700 PCIC Leaders Engage Federal, State Candidates and GOTV

700 PCIC leaders packed the parish hall of St. Pius X Catholic Church to secure commitments from candidates for federal, state and local office around an agenda that included immigration and food security at the federal level, and workforce development, education and healthcare at the state and local level. 

Candidates that attended included Congressional Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (CD 2), Pima County Board of Supervisors’ Chair Richard Elias, and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.  Religious leaders in attendance included Catholic Monsignors Raul Trevizo and Tom Cahalane, Episcopal Rector Robert Hendrickson (St. Philip’s), Rabbi Tom Louchheim (Or Chadash), Lutheran Dean & JobPath Board Chair Steve Springer (Dove of Peace), and Methodist Pastor Sharon Ragland (St. Mark’s).  Bruce Dusenberry, former Chamber of Commerce Chair and Board of JobPath, Flowing Wells School Superintendent David Baker, and Community Food Bank President Michael McDonald also participated.  

Hundreds of PCIC leaders helped Get Out The Vote through election day, resulting in a 70.5% voter turnout rate in Pima County -- the highest in recent history. 

Candidates who committed to the agenda won their elections, including one State House seat and one US Congressional seat (CD-2).  The City Parks & Recreation Bond also passed.  

Candidates State Case for Election Inside Packed Pima County Forum, Tucson News [pdf]

'Accountability Session' Sunday a Chance to Evaluate CandidatesArizona Daily Star