Established in 2010, The Organizing and Leadership Academy’s (TOLA) mission is to train the next generation of grassroots organizers and leaders.


Our country faces significant problems. Despite the wealth of our country, many people suffer from the lack of access to health care, jobs, and poor educational opportunities. Low voter participation and the need to integrate immigrants into the fabric of our society are persistent challenges.


Finding and training people who can develop into effective organizers, to address these problems can be difficult and expensive. Too often, inexperienced organizers put into real world situations have neither the personal discipline, nor have mastered the basic fundamentals of organizing to be effective. Cesar Chavez, one of our country’s best organizers said: “One bad organizer can set a community back a generation.”


The Organizing & Leadership Academy (TOLA) is a unique, one-of-a-kind, rigorous, non-ideological, “hands-on” training program for individuals interested and motivated to pursue a career in organizing. TOLA recruits and trains people for careers as organizers. The TOLA program is demanding and effective. Many TOLA graduates continue their organizing careers in labor unions, non-profits, immigrant rights organizations, and political campaigns.


TOLA fellows do not pay for their training and all TOLA related expenses are paid for. To maintain independence and flexibility, TOLA does not apply for or receive grants from non-profit organizations.

Current Opportunities for The Organizing and Leadership Academy (TOLA)

The Organizing and Leadership Academy Fellowship

Opportunity Type: Fellowship
Application Deadline: May 22, 2019
Description: The TOLA curriculum is drawn from the teachings of Fred Ross Sr. and the lessons and experiences of people who organized in the Community Service Organization (CSO), the United Farm Workers (UFW), civil rights campaigns, and political campaigns.

TOLA Fellows will gain an appreciation of the history of community organizing as well as understand their own motivations for doing this work. As they progress through this four-month academy, they will develop the fundamental skills necessary to become effective organizers including the use of a personal narrative to inspire others; an ability to listen and communicate persuasively; an ability to set goals and organize volunteers into action; and an ability to recruit and train volunteers in community outreach, door-to-door work, phone banking, and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Contact Information

The Organizing and Leadership Academy (TOLA)
191 Ridgeway Ave.
Oakland , CA 94611