Our victories include:
Safer Streets in San Antonio: Our membership in Bexar County asked for help making their neighborhood streets safer. TOP mobilized and met with the local police department, as well as members of San Antonio’s City Council. In partnership with community allies, TOP successfully petitioned SAPD for more frequent patrols and the city council increased the original streetlight budget by 3x the original amount to just over $1 million! This victory, in coordination with increased patrols by SAPD, exemplifies our ability to successfully advocate on behalf of our membership.
Winning School Discipline Reforms at DISD: TOP has organized hundreds of parents and also established a broad “Coalition for Education not Incarceration”, a table of nearly twenty civil rights, religious, policy, and community organizations. TOP and the Coalition, together with our strategic policy partner Texas Appleseed, were successful in securing a pilot Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) program at Spruce High School in Pleasant Grove.
Hurricane Recovery and Neighborhood Revitalization in Houston: After Hurricane Ike, the City of Houston received a historic amount of federal funds to help low-income homeowners recover from the storm. A two year campaign by TOP-organized community leaders culminated at the end of 2011 in an historic agreement between TOP, TOP Ed Fund and Mayor Parker that secured an unprecedented level of funding dedicated to low income homeowners impacted by Hurricane Ike and a lead stakeholder role for TOP in the process of identifying and prioritizing neighborhoods for future community revitalization programs.
Stopping Valero Energy Tax Breaks: TOPEF and TOP successfully fought back against Valero Energy’s efforts to receive a $92 million tax rebate from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that they had been requesting for over four years for upgrades made to their refineries that they claimed reduced emissions. The TCEQ felt little, if any pressure to deny the rebate until TOP organized parents from impacted school districts and residents around the Valero refinery to take action.
Voter Engagement: In the 2012 general election, TOP and TOP Ed Fund conducted our largest non-partisan voter turnout program to date. We targeted a universe of 110,000 low-income, largely unlikely, Latino and African-American voters, including newly registered and 2008 surge voters, in Harris, Hidalgo and Dallas Counties. Our program exceeded expectations, turning out 56% of targeted voters, with 46% of these voters casting ballots early.
Healthy Communities: Recent accomplishments include winning the establishment of the Port of Houston Chairperson’s Citizens Advisory Committee to influence decisions and policies as they relate to port side communities. TOP has representation on the committee. In 2014, TOP members in Houston demanded the city, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) clean up the abandoned CES Environmental plant in the OST neighborhood. The plant caused a threat to residents who lived merely a block away, with leaking chemicals and toxic air. The EPA and TCEQ quickly put together a plan to clean up the plant by the end of the year.
Neighborhood Victories: No victory is too small at TOP, and that includes the neighborhoods we organize. For example, in Houston, TOP members came together to save two HISD schools from closing in Spring 2014. In the summer of 2014, San Antonio TOP members got more police patrols in the Westside neighborhood to crack down on drugs and prostitution. In 2013, Dallas TOP members won a stop sign for a street where speeding cars threatened the safety of the residents and their children.