Faith in Action International is a global movement of people of faith and compassion organizing for social change from the bottom up. We’re working together to create a world in which every person has access to clean water, good schools, health care, decent jobs, and a say over the decisions that shape their lives.
Faith in Action provides resources and support to people who are most directly impacted by injustice so they can organize their own communities and press for change. In some of the most challenging places in the world, everyday people are using organizing methods and practices to listen to and prioritize the concerns of their neighbors, identify the available resources in their communities, meet with and hold public and private sector officials accountable and campaign for policy changes to reduce poverty and suffering and improve life in their communities and countries. Faith in Action organizations provide people with practical tools and training to put their faith values into action.
We are a movement of people and a network of organizations learning from each other and taking action together.
Fr. John Baumann, a Jesuit priest, founded Faith in Action in 1972 in Oakland, California. The organization was originally named the Oakland Training Institute, and later the Pacific Institute for Community Organizing and PICO National Network. Faith in Action’s mission has remained constant for the past 50 years—to develop grassroots leaders who exercise the power needed to build a more just and equitable society.
Through Faith in Action people most impacted by injustice have been able to lead successful campaigns to improve the schools their children attend, gain access to health care and affordable housing, reduce violence and incarceration in their communities and create better jobs with better benefits. Over the years Faith in Action has emerged as the largest grassroots faith-based social change movement in the United States.
In 2002, seeing the power of Faith in Action’s training program for grassroots leaders, the Central American Catholic Bishops invited us to help them support faith-based organizing in Central America.That invitation resulted in grassroots leaders forming Comunidades de Fe Organizadas en Acción (Communities of Faith Organizing for Action), which is based in El Salvador, and supports grassroots organizing in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
In 2004, John Rutsindintwarane, a Lutheran pastor from Rwanda traveled to Oakland, California to work with Oakland Community Organizations, Faith in Action’s founding affiliate. Pastor John had grown up in exile in Tanzania and returned to Rwanda after the 1994 genocide to help resettle refugees. He saw Faith in Action’s organizing process as a tool that ordinary Rwandans could use to move from relief and recovery to rebuilding. Pastor John and his colleague Fr. Innocent Rugaragu have gone on to help communities across Rwanda organize for new health clinics, schools, water projects and cooperatives. They are inspiring interest in bottom up social change across Africa, including in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, and South Africa.
In 2015, Haitian religious leaders invited Faith in Action to help build a grassroots organization that became the People’s Organization for the Development of Northeast Haiti (OPODNE). OPODNE has organized economic cooperatives and community improvement projects in 22 communities across Northeast Haiti. During the COVID-19 pandemic, OPODNE led a large-scale health education and prevention program in their department. In 2022, OPODNE began a new organizing effort in the North Department and launched a campaign to press government officials, USAID and foreign contractors to provide greater support for local Haitian farmers in responding to the hunger crisis in the country.
With a relatively small investment, organizing has involved thousands of people and achieved tangible results that have improved many lives. We continue to respond to requests from faith leaders in other countries to partner in promoting grassroots faith-based organizing. Today, Faith in Action International provides ongoing consultation and technical assistance to faith and community leaders in a dozen countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Haiti, Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Hungary and Slovakia.
Faith In Action in the U.S.
Faith in Action is the largest faith-based grassroots social change movement in the United States, supporting organizing in more than 250 cities and towns in 25 states. Learn more about Faitn In Action in the U.S. here: www.faithinaction.org.
Grassroots organizing for change is intuitive but not always easy. It’s hard to work for bottom-up change in a world dominated by top-down institutions. That’s why need to draw on hard-earned international grassroots organizing wisdom from across the world. Only by learning and working together can we solve the most difficult challenges facing humanity.
This International Learning Exchange webpage is a place to learn more about international grassroots community organizing and find practical tools for developing grassroots leadership and building stronger, more powerful organizations.
Faith in Action International created the International Learning Exchange in 2021, with support from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation’s Global Ideas for US Solutions program. The exchange creates opportunities for people organizing for change to learn from their peers in other countries. In addition to the content here, we also sponsor learning trips, webinars, and other events to share best practices in international community organizing and power building.
You may contact us directly by submitting a contact form here.
If you would like to contact us at our international office, below is our information:
Faith in Action International Office
171 Santa Rosa Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
Phone: (510) 655-2801
Fax: 510-655 4816
Fr. John Bauman jbaumann[@]faithinaction.org
Building a people-powered movement
El Salvador/ Central America History
In 2002, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, Honduras, invited FIA to work with Catholic Church leaders in all six Central American countries to revitalize base Christian communities dedicated to justice for the most vulnerable.
Faith in Action Rwanda was formed by Pastor John Rutsindintwarane, a native Rwandan, who began organizing in Rwanda in 2006 after a one year internship with the U.S. Faith in Action affiliate Oakland Community Organizations.
Faith in Action International’s newest organizing project, Organisation Peuple Œcuménique pour le Developpment du Nord-Est (OPODNE), was formally launched in August 2014 when 100 leaders from across Northeast Haiti gathered at a General Assembly.