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
A Game Changing Community

A Game Changing Community

By Deyanira Nava After three short weeks, I have found that TOLA keeps pushing us to step outside our comfort zones. With only one week of curriculum and canvassing work under our belts, we headed to Watsonville, California, to raise awareness of the health consequences of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages.   In my previous work with...
A Little Push Goes A Long Way

A Little Push Goes A Long Way

By Gabriela Mares TOLA, The Organizing and Leadership Academy, has been such an amazing and challenging experience for me. To say that the first four weeks have been intense would be an understatement! In the span of only four weeks, I have been pushed beyond my limits. So far the Fellows have been assigned to...
Welcome TOLA 7 Fellows!

Welcome TOLA 7 Fellows!

Dear Friends, Many thanks to those of you who referred so many qualified candidates to TOLA this year. We hope you will continue sending more applicants for future classes. Please join us in welcoming the TOLA 7 Fellows, who will begin their 16-week training and fellowship on July 20th. Jesus Alonso Gabriela Andrade Robert Rodriguez...
Watch these videos about TOLA!

Watch these videos about TOLA!

Learn more about TOLA from founder Larry Tramutola, TOLA director Christian Garcia, and TOLA graduate/executive board member, Lolís Ramirez. Aprende más sobre TOLA del director Christian Garcia y TOLA graduada y miembra de la mesa ejecutiva Lolís Ramirez.
Who do you know?

Who do you know?

Dear Friends, I hope that you are having a great start to the New Year. TOLA continues to grow and flourish, training the next generation of grassroots organizers and leaders. Thirty-nine individuals have graduated from TOLA. Many are working in the organizing, education, government affairs, and non-profit sectors. As we embark on a new year, we...
Speaking Up is Key

Speaking Up is Key

By Giuliana Martinez Although TOLA has pushed me out of my comfort zone both professionally and personally, I never imagined how much I could change in a matter of four months. Before TOLA, I was working for a non-profit as a case manager helping lower income families in Marin County. I enjoyed the work, but...
Leaps of Faith

Leaps of Faith

By Ali Archer What’s it like becoming a community organizer? An incredible struggle. And I mean struggle in the most optimistic sense, because that’s where as TOLA fellows we have grown the most. That’s where the learning is – where we’ve come to understand ourselves and the magnitude of our potential. When looking back on...
Fighting Big Soda

Fighting Big Soda

By Lisa Alvarado The Berkeley vs Big Soda tax measure is more far reaching than simply taking a stand against sugary beverages.  If Measure D passes, it has the potential to affect families like mine in monumental ways. My parents struggled with their weight throughout my childhood. My mother drank about 4 sodas a day — with...
Making a Difference

Making a Difference

By Michael Guadamuz Early in the TOLA fellowship, I learned that a potential project we may be working on would be an independent expenditure campaign in San Francisco. Having had some experience with political campaigns, I was pretty confident in what to expect. What I wasn’t expecting was becoming an integral part of the formation...
Power of Listening

Power of Listening

By Joyce Ganthavorn There’s a Fred Ross Sr. axiom that says, “When you are tempted to make a statement, ask a question.” In TOLA we have been learning about the value of listening. Although I think all of The Organizing and Leadership Academy Fellows are great listeners, the program is challenging us to take our...
Reflections on La Paz 2014

Reflections on La Paz 2014

By Stephanie Hernández It‘s not every day you have the opportunity to meet living legends. On our trip to La Paz, we had the opportunity to meet United Farm Workers (UFW) leaders Gilbert Padilla, Arturo Rodriguez, and Dolores Huerta. TOLA 6 Fellows and I were thrilled to get to know these individuals on a more...
Welcome to the 2014 TOLA 6 Fellows!

Welcome to the 2014 TOLA 6 Fellows!

Please join us in welcoming the 2014 TOLA 6 Fellows: Lisa Alvarado Ali Archer Joyce Ganthavorn Michael Gudamuz Stephanie Hernandez Guiliana Martinez Follow their progress over the next four months here at our website! Sincerely, TOLA Team  

Copyright © 2011 TOLA. All rights reserved.