- South Carolina
Toledoans United for Social Action (TUSA) is an organization of over 20 diverse religious congregations in the Greater Toledo area. Our mission is to build the power of people of faith to do justice and solve serious community problems. TUSA is not a direct-service organization, but instead brings together large groups of people to address the root causes of a wide range of problems in the community. TUSA has been a DART Organizers Institute placement site since 2004.
Since TUSA’s formation in 1993, TUSA has successfully brought together a diverse group of people of faith to address a wide range of community issues. These are just a few recent examples of TUSA’s work.
In 2011, officials in the Lucas County Juvenile Court agreed to address the problem of kids being criminalized for school misbehavior. In the 2009/2010 school year, 422 kids received a criminal record for school offenses that were often minor. Judge Denise Cubbon and Juvenile Prosecutor Lori Oldander agreed to begin creating a Restorative Justice program in the Juvenile Court that would divert school-based offenses out of the traditional courtroom setting and into a more effective program to deal with these offenses
In 2010, TUSA launched a campaign to reduce rates of re-arrest in the community. TUSA leaders pushed the Court of Common Pleas in Lucas County to implement a model program called a Re-Entry Court that has proven to greatly reduce the rate of re-arrest for offenders as well as save the community money. In May of 2011, Judge Stacy Cook agreed to submit a proposal to the Court for a Re-Entry Court based off the Cuyahoga County model that will start by January 2012.
In May 2009, TUSA secured $1 million of Workforce Investment funds for green jobs training in the county as well as an extension of the Green Jobs Coordinator position and an additional $100,000 from the city to invest in training efforts. Over 350 unemployed Toledo residents received certifications through this program.
In 2008 TUSA pushed for and won a City Ordinance which created a vacant property registry. This registry helps empower the city to hold landlords accountable for proper upkeep of their properties and acts as an important tool to better identify problem areas so that the city can be more proactive in stabilizing our older neighborhoods. Lucas County Commissioner Wozniak agreed to work with TUSA to reduce foreclosures through a foreclosure mediation program.
In 2004, TUSA got Police Chief Mike Navarre to reinstate a Hot Spot Card campaign to fight crime. Navarre met monthly with TUSA representatives to report on his efforts to clean up these hot spots of crime prioritized by TUSA. Chief Navarre forwarded housing complaints to the Neighborhoods Department. More than 300 addresses have been assigned, producing dozens of arrests and cleaning up more than 150 houses. This campaign is helping build accountability and trust between residents in these neighborhoods and law enforcement.
TUSA addressed low reading skills of Toledo Public School students by calling for the district to implement a phonics-based reading program called Direct Instruction (DI). TPS responded by introducing this program as a pilot project in 1995 in the Old West End Academy. This school is now recognized as the best elementary school in the district with every student in third grade passing their state proficiency tests at 100%. More than 90% of its students are reading more than a year above grade level; while other students in Toledo Public Schools with similar demographics (60% of the students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches) have not improved.
TUSA’s membership of over 20 congregations represents over 20,000 individuals in Lucas County. Our membership comes from Toledo, Sylvania, Maumee, Holland, and other communities in the Toledo area. Our membership includes a variety of denominations including Baptists, Catholics, Church of Christ, A.M.E., C.M.E., and United Methodist.
Co-President – Sister Nancy Westmeyer, St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church
Co-President – Brother Robert G. Birt, Glass City Church of Christ
Vice-President – Father Gerald Chmiel, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
Treasurer – Don Curtis, St. Pius X Catholic Church
Recording Secretary – Art Walker, Friendship Baptist Church
Corresponding Secretary – Camile Sciplin, Phillips Temple C.M.E.
442 Floyd St.
Toledo, OH 43620