More Than Statistics

More Than Statistics

By Sharon Merino What does it entail to give oneself to the cause? It means long hours, stress, frustration, and little sleep, but most of all hope — hope that all the hard work will pay off; hope that you will meet your goals; and hope that the work will...
Organizing is a Lifestyle

Organizing is a Lifestyle

By Harold Dela Cruz You’ve probably all thought about doing something in your lifetime that will change the world. But what does it take to create lasting change in a community? And what are some of the challenges? Participating in the Organizing and Leadership Academy (TOLA) has shown me that...
Conquering Fear - An Organizer's Story

Conquering Fear – An Organizer’s Story

By Grace Luk On my first day of TOLA, I was faced with one of the most nerve-racking tasks: canvassing and approaching strangers. Clipboard in hand, I became one of those people I often ignore on sidewalks persuading others to sign a petition, or support a cause. My job was...
Rearranging Meaning

Rearranging Meaning

By Kyle Peerless I am so grateful for the TOLA program. The curriculum and guest speakers we are exposed to in conjunction with our campaign work allow us to develop skills to become effective at connecting with people in a way that provides perspective and inspiration, and the impetus to...
“You should be shy about stealing, not asking”

“You should be shy about stealing, not asking”

By Monica Gomez Growing up, my mom would teach us to speak up and to ask for help when we needed something. When we didn’t ask, she would say, “Te debería de dar pena robar, no preguntar.” (You should be shy about stealing, not asking.)  Even though I am not...
We’re the TOLA Fellows. We Organize.

We’re the TOLA Fellows. We Organize.

By Geovanni Gomez Aurora, Harold, Grace, Monica, Sharon, Roger, Claudia, Geo, Kyle. We’re the TOLA fellows. We remind each other every day why we do the work we do. The campaign: pushing through a soda tax in 2 different cities. The work: on the ground conversations. Human interactions to convey...
Oakland vs Big Soda - Sparking Conversations

Oakland vs Big Soda – Sparking Conversations

By Aurora Castellanos My grandmother used to tell us that our inheritance will unfortunately be the diabetes that has affected our family for generations. Even at the young age of five I remember seeing my tia Lupe, my grandmother’s older sister, battling diabetes as the disease took the last breath...
A Love for the Cause

A Love for the Cause

By Claudia K. Haro-Contreras Elotes, Churros, Raspados, Fruta Picada, Hot Dogs, Ice Cream, Paletas, and Quesadillas. There is no doubt that “The Mission” in San Francisco has it all. Hearing the “buenos dias” and “good morning” greetings while walking down Mission Street sure makes me feel homesick. I never imagined...
My New Organizing Family

My New Organizing Family

By Roger Saechao “This will be a very intense sixteen week fellowship,” said TOLA Director, Christian Garcia, during my initial TOLA interview. Without a doubt the first two weeks at TOLA have been challenging. However, the experience also has been inspiring, positive, and motivating. I have had the privilege to...
Latest entries
Inicando Conversaciones

Inicando Conversaciones

Por Aurora Castellanos Mi abuelita nos decía que su herencia, desafortunadamente, seria la diabetes que ha afectado a nuestra familia por generaciones. Aún recuerdo que a la edad de cinco años, observé como la diabetes le quitaba la vida a mi tia Lupe, la hermana mayor de mi abuelita. Al escuchar las conversaciones en mi...
Watch NEW Berkeley vs Big Soda Film!

Watch NEW Berkeley vs Big Soda Film!

In November 2014, Berkeley became the first US city to pass a measure taxing distributors of soda and other sugary drinks. One year later, Berkeley’s soda tax has generated over $1.5 million for community nutrition and health efforts! Concerned about skyrocketing type 2 diabetes rates among children, many communities throughout the United States and the...
"Never stop learning. Never stop laughing."

“Never stop learning. Never stop laughing.”

Interview of Angela Kline, TOLA 2 Angela Kline, is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. While in graduate school, Angela researched innovative payment system reforms to ensure that Americans receive value in healthcare dollars. Additionally, Angela was Public Policy Fellow at United Way of the Bay Area, where she analyzed inventive...
TOLA Alums Improving Access to Healthcare

TOLA Alums Improving Access to Healthcare

Interview of Deyanira Nava, TOLA 7 Dey is a recent graduate of the TOLA program and UC Davis. Before TOLA, she interned at Latino Coalition for a Healthy California where she worked to advance the shared vision to increase healthcare access for all Californians and also ensure that the social and economic environments within communities support...
Part II - TOLA Alums on Presidential Campaign Trail

Part II – TOLA Alums on Presidential Campaign Trail

Interview of Mary Janet Ramos, TOLA 7 Q: Tell us about your involvement with the Hillary Clinton campaign in Nevada?  A: As a field organizer, I was responsible for daily voter contact outreach including attending community events, doing door to door work, and organizing daily phone banks. Every day I had conversations with people in...
Part I - TOLA Alums on Presidential Campaign Trail

Part I – TOLA Alums on Presidential Campaign Trail

Interview of Lynn Wiggins Q: Tell us about your involvement in the Bernie Sanders campaign in Nevada?  A: I was a Field Organizer in Northern Las Vegas on the Bernie Sanders campaign, responsible for organizing Nevada Assembly Districts 7 and 17, a total of 68 precincts. Q: What inspired you to work on a presidential...
TOLA Alums in Action

TOLA Alums in Action

Interview with Giuliana Martinez After graduating from The Organizing and Leadership Academy in 2014, Giuliana was hired as program coordinator for ‘Healthy Hearts SF’ in the San Francisco Department of Public Health. As part of the TOLA 6 class, Giuliana worked on the successful Berkeley vs Big Soda campaign, the first successful effort to tax...
Organizing is the Art of Discipline

Organizing is the Art of Discipline

By Mercedes Del Carmen Carreto Vasquez Organizing is an art and discipline is the tool that will help you create a masterpiece. Creativity seems to come from scattered thoughts, and as long as I remember, I have been creative. Learning to balance a sense of creativity with the need for discipline has been the biggest...
Self-Discovery in a Complex City

Self-Discovery in a Complex City

By Bobby Rodriguez Donoso One aspect of the TOLA program that I appreciate most is that fellows are not selected based solely on their experience in community organizing. Candidates are also evaluated on their personal attributes and qualities that can potentially make them an effective community organizer. Some of my peers in the program had...
Turning Conversations Into Opportunities

Turning Conversations Into Opportunities

By Jesus Alonso From my very first day in TOLA, I realized that to be a great organizer I must turn every conversation into an opportunity. In order to do this, I knew I would have to take more risks, learn to be a better listener, think outside the box, and move further outside my...
Fighting for What Matters ... People

Fighting for What Matters … People

By Mary Janet Ramos This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Boycott, a non-violent nationwide movement that not only unified Filipino and Latino farm workers, but also brought together other ethnic groups who fought for justice, dignity, and respect. Under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, the...
Beyond Labels: A Young Organizer's Journey

Beyond Labels: A Young Organizer’s Journey

By Gabriela Andrade When I first heard about TOLA, I knew I had to apply. I was hungry for a program that could teach me the how, the why, and the who of organizing. Before TOLA, my experience as an organizer consisted of shadowing other organizers without fully understanding what I was doing or how...

Copyright © 2011 TOLA. All rights reserved.