- South Carolina
Faith and Action for Strength Together (F.A.S.T.) is a congregation-based community organization in Pinellas County, Florida, whose purpose is to train low- to moderate-income residents from diverse congregations to work together to identify root causes of community problems and take action on these problems. Through FAST, diverse people come together to powerfully address the needs in their own communities.
We come together annually in large public actions to press officials to implement solutions to community problems. In 2011 we convened 2850 people to stand together for the community. Our accomplishments since 2005 include:
• We got our county transportation agency, PSTA, to upgrade many of the bus stops to provide shelter and more safety for their riders, especially senior citizens.
• F.A.S.T. got the Director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization to create a new, one-number system for senior transportation. This new system, unveiled in March 2006, works with the Area Agency for Aging and allows seniors to speak directly with a trained professional who can help them with their transportation needs. There are over 20,500 seniors in Pinellas County who do not drive and who will benefit from this new system.
• In 2005, we secured commitments from the director of the Early Learning Coalition to provide funding for a full-day of Pre-K for any child whose parents are working am make less than 200% of the poverty level. To date over 5,000 low-income 4-year-olds in Pinellas County have been able to attend Pre-K because of this funding.
• F.A.S.T. was also able to get the Early Learning Coalition to hire a full-time outreach coordinator. Because of this, Pinellas County was #2 in the state for the percentage of children enrolled in Pre-K programs.
• After two years of work and negotiations, we got new a school-wide discipline program implemented in all public schools in the County. This impacts over 100,000 students.
• We got the Superintendent to commit to develop a plan to get at least 80% of 3rd graders in 20 target schools reading on or above grade level within two years.
• In 2006, F.A.S.T. secured commitments from all 7 county commissioners to support an affordable housing trust fund. To date, $19.2 million has been allocated to the fund creating 1400 new units. We continue to monitor the progress on the funding for the trust fund.
• In 2007, each municipality in the County made clear numeric commitments regarding creating a net increase of affordable housing.
Drugs and Crime
• Working with local law enforcement officials, we got 60 drugs and crime hot-spots in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Largo cleaned up and resulting in over 300 arrests.
• We got the Sheriff to commit to convene a task force to find funding to re-instate a rehabilitation and life skills program in the jail.
• Working with fellow DART organizations throughout the state of Florida, we were able to convince our State Legislature to pass a bill expanding the use of drug courts for people who commit non-violent offenses. It is estimated that this can save the State $95 million.
• St. Pete College created a workforce-readiness certificate program that provides training in specific skills, to help job-seekers obtain entry-level positions in a variety of industries.
• Half of the St. Pete city council agreed to support the creation of a priority-hiring ordinance, which requires a percentage of new jobs created by local government subsidies and contracts to go to Pinellas County residents first.
Presently F.A.S.T. has 38 member congregations representing over 50,000 individual members. We come from all parts of Pinellas County and are comprised of a diverse mix of persons by race, economic class, and religious traditions.
Board of Directors
To be provided
P.O. Box 10421
St. Petersburg, FL 33733
Lead Organizer, Haley Grossman
Assc. Organizer, Claire Ellery
Assc. Organizer, Lauren Bennett
Assc. Organizer, Christina Chin
Assc. Organizer, Cari Morales