In July 2013, 19 leaders from the member churches of Topeka JUMP attended a 5 day training in Cincinnati, OH on how to build justice ministry within their congregations. They returned back to Topeka a unified, inspired, and skilled group of people who are committed to leading Topeka JUMP in building the power of organized people.
2013 House Meeting
2013 Community Problems Assembly
Justice for our Public School Students
Approximately 5,600 elementary school students in USD 501 are considered at-risk. By referral from teachers, parents, and the Student Intervention Team, at-risk students can be assessed and labeled a student with special needs. The Student Intervention Team then works with the student and parents to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. You can get an IEP based on being at-risk academically and a 504 Plan for being at-risk for behavior, for mental health, or for other health conditions. Unfortunately, there are so many other distractions and circumstances that affect a students' ability to learn. Today, only 12% of students considered at-risk actually get specialized services through the Student Intervention Team. The Student Intervention Team in elementary schools do not have the capacity to serve all of the students in need of services. We learned that one effective way to address both academic and non-academic barriers is through an evidenced-based program called Communities in Schools (CIS). JUMP is pressing for CIS to be placed in additional elementary schools with the highest need. You can learn more about Communities In Schools at communitiesinschools.org. You can hear testimonies of students who have benefited from the program at changethepicture.org.
2014 Nehemiah Action Assembly
On April 29, 2014, more than 1,000 people gathered to show Topeka Public Schools how much we support the expansion of Communities In Schools.
Topeka JUMP is here to stay! We will celebrate the addition of two new schools in CIS. During the second year, our education committee is working to add three additional site coordinators in elementary schools by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
In July 2014, 8 leaders from the member churches of Topeka JUMP attended a 5 day training in Tampa, Florida on how to strengthen justice ministry within their congregations. They returned back to Topeka with an even greater understanding of justice ministry and a greater sense of duty to hold systems accountable to being fair and just.
Our 2014 Community Problems Assembly:
prioritizing mental health
On the evening of November 11, 2014, an assembly of JUMP members filled El Shaddai Ministries Community Church to vote on the new area of focus for the group (mental health) and to welcome new congregations into the membership: In God's House, Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic, and Southwest Baptist.
2015 Community Problems Assembly
On the evening of November 3rd, 2015 an assembly of 200 JUMP members gathered at El Shaddai Ministries Community Church to choose a new area focus for 2015-2016. Although the both the Mental Health and Education Committee will remain active, economic exploitation will be the next area focus. It won by a landslide! Looking further into economic exploitation, research into City data reveals that more than 7,000 families are living in unsafe homes and are overburdened by the cost of rent and utilities. There is a gross mismatch between the number of families who make $32,00 (80% of the Area Median Income) or less and the number of homes available at an affordable rate and in decent condition.
2016 Nehemiah Action Assembly
539 members of JUMP gather to forge a partnership with the City of Topeka in convening a task force that will research, design, and propose an affordable housing trust fund for Topeka.
Follow-Up Work on Housing in 2016 and 2017
In 2017, JUMP members rallied to prepare for the upcoming Nehemiah action assembly where we would press public officials for solutions to community problems. Access to Mental Health care, more safe and affordable housing, and improved public transportation were the main points of discussion.
2017 Nehemiah Action Assembly
Quoted from a Capitol Journal article written by Luke Ranker on April 25, 2017:
Topeka Justice Unity Ministry Project, more commonly called JUMP, brought members of 20 Shawnee County churches together for a “Night of Justice,” where officials, including Mayor Larry Wolgast, agreed to explore:
• A partnership between Valeo Behavioral Health Care and the Shawnee County Department of Corrections that would provide a supported employment specialist for inmates upon release.
• An affordable housing fund that, with the help of public funds, would support improvements to Topeka’s affordable housing stock.
• The “Topeka Workforce Route,” a bus route that would provide rides south of town to Mars Chocolate plant.
“This attendance tonight is evidence we are building a culture of justice in our congregations,” Eve Kendall, of Central Congregational Church, told the crowd of nearly 1,000 people.
2017 House Meetings
In the fall of 2017, members from JUMP and the community gathered to surface community problems they see in their everyday lives. Hundreds of people met in small meetings like this across the county to start discussing the injustices people have been faced with in Shawnee county. From this process, JUMP members later vote on which problems to address with our public officials.
In early April of 2018, JUMP members met to get ready for the Nehemiah action that would take place three weeks later. Members discussed the strength of their networks and a short teaching was delivered on why we are called to do justice. The group made sure everyone knew what we were holding the public officials accountable to: addressing safe and affordable housing and the expansion of public transportation.
2018 Nehemiah Action Assembly
In late April of 2018, over 900 JUMP and community members came to the Nehemiah Action Assembly at Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church. The following commitments were made by our public officials:
- The City Manager, Brent Trout, agreed to revise the Affordable Housing Ordinance on the books and have the new ordinance on the City Council agenda for discussion by June 5.
- The Mayor, Michelle De La Isla, committed to support the City Manager in revising the ordinance.
- The Director of the Topeka Metro, Susan Duffy, agreed to create a long term transportation plan--including a flex bus route--to get people to work at major employers in the county. This plan will go before the Joint Economic Development Organization (JEDO) where we will seek funding for 2019-2021.
- City Councilperson, Michael Padilla, agreed to meet with JUMP and Susan Duffy during the summer to review the transportation plan before it goes to JEDO.