Texas Organizing Project
- 1 "Recipe for Texas"
- 2 Founder/budget
- 3 Origins and mission
- 4 Huge challenge
- 5 2018 successes
- 6 Focus groups
- 7 Neave victory
- 8 Formula for success
- 9 Methods of work
- 10 Progressive beachhead
- 11 Communist Party connections
- 12 "Change Champions"
- 13 PowerPac+ Board of Directors
- 14 Partner
- 15 "500,000 infrequent voters of color"
- 16 TOP staff photo
- 17 Personnel, December 2017
- 18 TOPPAC 2018 endorsements
- 19 TOP 2016 endorsements
- 20 Victories
- 21 References
Texas Organizing Project "organizes Black and Latino communities in Harris, Bexar and Dallas counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve".
"Recipe for Texas"
“We feel like our recipe for Texas is rooted in engaging disengaged black and brown voters,” said Crystal Zermeno, political strategy director at Texas Organizing Project. “The reason why we’re so deeply red is because there were old politics on both sides that ... really focused on that elusive white swing voter. So for way too long, there was disengagement for way too long in communities of color.”
Ginny Goldman came to Houston in 2003, a New Yorker by way of Chicago, where she'd been working as a community organizer for the left-wing Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now since she was 21.
For ACORN, she knocked on Houston doors. And soon, she came to a realization: "What works in Chicago doesn't necessarily work here," she says. "What works on the East Coast doesn't necessarily work here. What works in other southern places doesn't necessarily work here."
Progress, she thought, required a Texas solution built for the vagaries of a big city that was diverse, cosmopolitan, and part of the heavily Republican Deep South. Many national campaigns run by unions, other big left-leaning non-profits or Democratic Party affiliates didn't even include Houston.
She built Texas Organizing Project with three main thrusts: shoe-leather canvassing in the neighborhoods; policy and legal research; and direct political action via voter turnout efforts and a political action committee.
In 2016, the Texas Organizing Project has a $3 million budget and 38 full-time staff members in all three cities working on neighborhood rights, immigration reform, health care, education and economic opportunity. Fifteen are based in Houston.
Goldman has turned the organization over Michelle Tremillo, a Stanford-educated Latina from San Antonio. "I think it's time for someone else to take it to the next level," Goldman says.
For this fall's election, TOP will add dozens of part-time staffers who will try to get 380,000 voters to the polls in Harris, Dallas and Bexar Counties.
"Our goal is not to turn the state blue," Goldman says. "Our goal is to advance a policy agenda that benefits working families in Texas who are majority people of color, and you have to engage politically to do that."
Origins and mission
Today much of the urban organizing work is done by the Texas Organizing Project, launched eight years ago by alumni from ACORN, the community organizing giant that collapsed in the face of a conservative assault early in the Obama era. The TOP’s approach is to bring politics down to the level where it’s felt most immediately in people’s lives. Its first campaign in Houston revolved around blue tarps that still covered the roofs of homes in the city’s poor neighborhoods years after they had been damaged by Hurricane Ike; with the TOP’s backing, low-income communities compelled Houston’s Democratic mayor to scuttle an effort to repair the homes of wealthy residents and fix their roofs instead. In San Antonio, the TOP is organizing around sidewalks and streetlights.
Last fall, while Clinton largely ignored the state, dropping in for fundraisers and to mobilize volunteers to make phone calls to other states, the TOP and allied groups focused their attention on Harris County. They ignored national politics and instead worked nonwhite neighborhoods by talking about something called 287(g), a voluntary agreement that the incumbent sheriff had signed with the federal government to deport undocumented residents picked up for nonviolent offenses. Most people hadn’t heard of it—but everyone knew someone who’d interacted with the cops.
“We were trying to get the vote out, and we would engage voters in the presidential election conversation and they were fed up—’Yeah, I don’t want to vote, both candidates are terrible,’ that type of thing. And this was the Latino community,” said Carlos Duarte, state director of Mi Familia Vota, a nonprofit that worked alongside the TOP in Harris County. Then he would tell them about the sheriff race. “People were saying, ‘Okay, so who’s running?’ They would grab a piece of paper, grab a pen, and then write the names of the candidates.” On Election Day, Democrats swept most Harris County offices, all the way down to tax assessor.
Those gains may beget more gains, the theory goes, not just because nonvoters have now joined the democratic process, or because they are now electing officials who speak their language or look like them, but because voting is simply easier in Texas when Democrats are in power.
In previous years, the Republican-run office of the tax assessor for Harris (a county of 4.5 million people) refused to prioritize registering voters and even testified against a proposal to move registration online. And though Texas high schools are required to hold voter registrations on campus at least twice a year, some Houston public schools declined to follow that policy. The new superintendent and the Democratic tax assessor plan to coordinate registration drives in every high school in Houston, and the assessor’s office has turned into a community organizing hub. In April, it hired a new staffer to work full time on registration drives. His previous job? Organizing the county for Battleground Texas.
Few places in America moved as sharply toward Democrats last fall as the Harris County district currently represented in Congress by Republican John Culberson. The 7th District, which Mitt Romney won by 21.3 points in 2012, went to Clinton by 1.4. Culberson, a loyal Trump supporter, has faced mostly token opposition since being elected 17 years ago to the seat once held by George H.W. Bush, but at least six progressives have signed up to run against him, and local party members and grassroots groups have already held two candidate forums. Those challengers include Jason Westin, a cancer doctor who’s worried about budget cuts for the National Institutes of Health, and Laura Moser, the founder of Daily Action, an online organizing hub that directs its members to make one call per day to oppose the Republican agenda. Members of the local chapter of Swing Left, one of the most popular of the new resistance groups, have packed town halls, protested outside Culberson’s office, and canvassed and phone-banked their neighbors. Democrats smell blood in the water, and it’s finally not their own.
Any hope Beto O'Rourke has begins with turning out the vote in the heavily populated counties surrounding Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Battleground Texas has registered around 123,000 voters over the past five years, half of them in those three counties, but Democrats need to do much more to turn them into strongholds. “We’re trying to be as strategic as possible,” says Crystal Zermeno, director of electoral strategy at the Texas Organizing Project, “given that most of our counties are as big as battleground states.” Harris County, where Houston sits, has a much larger population than Nevada. In 2016, Zermeno’s organization made some 1.2 million phone calls and door knocks in Harris County, which helped Hillary Clinton to carry it. O’Rourke will have to build on Clinton’s turnout numbers. From there, it doesn’t take a strategic genius to see the competitive path: dominate the other cities, woo the suburbs, limit the damage in the sticks.
The Texas Organizing Project (TOP), with its strong base among Latinos and African Americans, went all out in the most populous red state this year. TOP deployed at one time 575 staff, reached 882,000 voters, knocked on 300,000 doors, was key in flipping two congressional seats and electing three DAs – including in Dallas – to put Texas squarely on the map in the fight against mass incarceration.
Three million registered African-American and Latino voters stayed home 2010, not to mention the 2 million who were unregistered. Following the crushing Republican victory in 2010, Texas Organizing Project launched an ambitious project to discover, as Crystal Zermeno put it, “who was not voting, and why.”
Texas Organizing Project embarked on a series of intensive focus groups, which were largely financed by Amber Mostyn and Steve Mostyn, a pair of progressive Houston claims attorneys. (Their string of lucrative settlements included some with insurance companies who had balked at paying claims for Ike-related house damage.) Year after year, the Mostyns had loyally stumped up hefty donations to middle-of-the-road Democrats who doggedly pursued existing voters while ignoring the multitude who sat out elections all or most of the time. When TOP asked these reluctant voters about their abstention, the answer was almost always the same: “When I have voted for Democrats in the past, nothing has changed, so it’s not worth my time.” There was one telling exception: in San Antonio, voters said that the only Texas Democrat they trusted was Julian Castro, who ran for mayor in 2009 on a platform of bringing universal pre-K to the city, and delivered on his promise when he won.
- Ever since the era of Ann Richards, Democrats had been focusing their efforts (without success) on winning back white swing voters outside the big cities. But Crystal Zermeno realized that there was no reason “to beat our heads against the wall for that group of people anymore, not when we’ve got a million-voter gap and as many as four million non-voting people of color in the big cities, who are likely Democrats.” By relentlessly appealing to that shadow electorate, and gradually turning them into habitual voters, TOP could whittle down and eliminate the Republican advantage in elections for statewide offices such as governor and lieutenant governor, not to mention the state’s thirty-eight votes in the presidential Electoral College. In other words, since the existing Texas electorate was never going to generate a satisfactory result, TOP was going to have to grow a new one.
On the passing of Steve Mostyn
- “We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Steve Mostyn, and send our deepest prayers and condolences to his beautiful family.
- “Steve Mostyn was a man who committed his life to advancing justice in all its forms, and truly lived his values. He believed in the power of ordinary people coming together to exercise their rights — whether it be through the courts, at the ballot box, or in their neighborhoods. He had a huge heart and backed up his beliefs with action. His personality, his sense of humor, his heart and his generosity were the size of Texas— so much was made possible because of him.
- “He was an early, generous supporter of the Texas Organizing Project, and helped catapult the organization’s work forward when it came to community organizing and political action, particularly in disenfranchised communities of color. He was willing to back big ideas when many others would shy away because he deeply cared and believed in people.
- “Steve had our back. He was a friend, mentor and backer of so many of us who have been swimming upstream against powerful political forces in Texas that are hurting working families.
Harris County is by no means the only arena in which TOP and its allies scored convincingly in 2016. East Dallas County, a band of suburbs to the east and south of Dallas, comprises House District 107 in the state legislature. Despite a Latino and African-American majority, Republicans have been carrying the district for years, albeit with narrow margins. This time, however, thanks to an intense registration and organizing drive by Texas Organizing Project and other groups, including labor unions, Victoria Neave, the Democratic candidate, ousted her Republican opponent by 836 votes.
Formula for success
Beginning with the 2012 election, TOP canvassers — volunteers and paid employees working their own neighborhoods — were trained to open a doorstep interview not with statements about a candidate but with a question: “What issue do you care about?” The answer, whether it was the minimum wage or schools or potholes, shaped the conversation as the canvasser explained that TOP had endorsed a particular candidate (after an intensive screening) because of his or her position on those very issues. These were not hit-and-run encounters. Potential voters were talked to “pretty much nonstop for about eight to ten weeks leading to the election,” according to Goldman. “They got their doors knocked three to five times. They got called five to seven times. They signed a postcard saying, ‘I pledge to vote.’ They circled which day they were going to vote on a little calendar on the postcard, and we mailed those postcards back to them. We offered them free rides to the polls. We answered all of their questions, gave them all the information they needed, until they cast a ballot. And what we saw was that the Latino vote grew by five percentage points in Harris County in 2012.”
Two years later, Texas Democrats nominated Wendy Davis, a state senator, as their candidate for governor following her filibuster against further restrictions on abortion rights. Her stand brought her national attention, a flood of campaign money, and the arrival of out-of-state Obama operatives who vowed to boost minority registration. Yet she lost by 20 percent to Greg Abbott and scored comparatively poorly with Latinos. Meanwhile, in the same election cycle, TOP and its allies blocked a bid by business interests to privatize the public-school system in Dallas. A year later, the organization helped to elect Sylvester Turner, a black Democrat, as mayor of Houston.
Methods of work
Olga Beiza, a 41-year-old Mexican immigrant, had never participated in any election despite being a registered voter since 2004. But this year was different.
"There's been a lot of racism in this election," she said before going inside. "I feel like I could make a difference. I have to do it for my friends and the people I know."
About three weeks earlier, Beiza had been approached at her Inwood Forest home by a member of the Texas Organizing Project, a group that advocates for low-income communities in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio through a combination of policy research, political action and - its hallmark - aggressive community organizing.
In a state where legions of analysts and academics have long speculated about why Hispanic turnout has remained low, TOP's leaders think they know the answer - and what to do about it.
Hispanics will vote, they say, when politics are made relevant at the neighborhood level. And once that happens, getting them to the polls typically takes at least four contacts, they've learned. Campaigns that roll in a week or two before an election fail, they contend, because they don't do either of those things.
In the 2012 general election, roughly 2 million registered black and Hispanic voters in the state didn't go to the polls, according to a private database TOP uses. Texas usually ranks among the lowest states in voter turnout, and its growing minority population - especially Hispanics - has yet to participate in large numbers.
But that was before Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who has talked tough on immigration and alienated minority groups. Record early voting totals suggest both he and his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, may both be uniquely energizing - and polarizing - candidates.
In 2016, TOP has targeted 340,000 mostly black and Hispanic registered voters in Harris County, plus another 35,000 in San Antonio and Dallas, where local elections aren't as contested.
Trump is polling at only 3 percent above Clinton in the usually bright red state of Texas - a state Republican Mitt Romney won by 16 percentage points in 2012 - and TOP members are using the billionaire businessman as motivation to get first-time voters to cast ballots for president and in important down-ballot races.
The number of registered voters in the county with Hispanic surnames alone has increased by 22 percent since 2012. TOP sees an opportunity to make history.
A week before Beiza cast her first vote, Mary Moreno, communications director at TOP, looked out across a sea of faces gathered at a small canvassing center in north Houston and explained the mission.
"The people whose doors you're knocking on today, they are not being counted in those polls," Moreno said. "We are knocking on the doors of people who are not likely voters, who are inconsistent. We could really shock the country with what we're doing here."
Several dozen mostly black or Hispanic TOP workers - among hundreds hired part-time for election canvassing - peered into iPods with the names and addresses of those they would have to reach that day.
They had done the same for much of the previous two months, taking shifts to knock on the doors of many homes in the county's predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods: Third Ward, Sunny Side, South Houston, Near Northside and Pasadena, among others. TOP analyzed county information to identify registered voters who are unlikely to vote.
County maps, name charts and step-by-step door-knocking directions were plastered on walls. A cartoon drawing of Trump hung near the entrance.
"Is it right that Donald Trump uses everybody to rally their base? African Americans, Latinos, woman - he bashes everyone," Moreno said to the crowd.
"No!" they responded.
"So what are we going to do about it?"
"Knock on doors!" they said before fanning out in their teal "TOP" shirts to the neighborhoods.
TOP has 38 full-time staff members across its three cities, with 15 based in Houston. In 2012, TOP targeted approximately 150,000 voters in Harris County. About 51,000 showed up at the polls, its records show.
"Voters that stay at home - what they say to us is that nobody is speaking to them," Crystal Zermeno, TOP's political strategist, said. "Particularly for communities of color, they are left out of the process. You go to some of these neighborhoods, and there's not even (campaign) signs. If communities don't vote, then campaigns don't talk to those voters. We're trying to buck that trend."
While Trump's rhetoric on minorities has placed extra emphasis on the presidential race, Zermeno said TOP's main goal is to affect change at a local level, focusing on issues that resonate in people's everyday lives.
One example: Bail reform in the county's jails. More than 70 percent of those in the jails are pretrial defendants who have not been convicted of a crime. On many occasions, those jailed are low-income individuals who can't post bail, an issue present statewide.
John Rodriguez steeled himself for a long, hot afternoon. Minutes after Moreno had finished her speech, the TOP field worker grabbed his teal-colored shoulder bag and hopped in his car. A New York native who has lived most of his life outside of the U.S. in Latin countries like Colombia, he's learned to navigate sprawling Houston. On his way to his territory in South Houston, he dropped off other TOP workers before arriving at Edward Drive in the South Shaver Park neighborhood in late afternoon.
He faced three hours of walking door-to-door, 66 homes in all. He carried his TOP iPod and a stack of handouts that detailed each candidate TOP endorsed, as well as voting information.
Each TOP member followed a script for each of the homes they visited. The "MiniVan" application on their iPods told them which registered voter lived there, how many times they had been previously visited or contacted by TOP (with four being the magic number) and if they had committed to vote yet.
After knocking on several doors and getting no answer, Rodriguez approached a one-floor, white brick house on Bonnie Street. Sweat trickled down his face from his black baseball cap. He knocked on the door. A woman named Maria Velia answered.
"What issues do you care about the most?" he asked.
"For me, immigration is the most important," Velia responded
"There is much injustice with immigration, right?" Rodriguez said. "Here are the candidates we support. Do you support them? Will you vote?"
Yes, she said, explaining that Trump has to be stopped.
Rodriguez handed Velia a "commitment card," which he carried with him and took out when people said they would vote. On the card, they could circle a day to vote early, and TOP would mail the card back and also call them to remind them.
Velia circled the first day of early voting - Oct. 24.
"Thank you," Rodriguez said. "I won't bother you anymore."
'I need to do it'
Olga Beiza committed to vote on one of the first early voting days when TOP visited her home. She really had never pondered voting before in all of her years living here.
Beiza, a school teacher at Aldine ISD, became a U.S. citizen in 1999. When she registered to vote, George W. Bush was still serving his first term as president, and there were an estimated 3.5 million fewer Hispanics in Texas than now.
Beiza knew voting was important, but she hadn't felt motivated to make the drive to a polling station during previous elections. She didn't think politicians were speaking to topics that interested her, and she didn't believe her voice would really matter. It also was a cultural thing, she said. Voting was never emphasized in her home while growing up.
But everything changed when Donald Trump called Mexicans that were crossing the border rapists and criminals more than a year ago during his announcement to become a candidate for president.
Beiza watched, and she became agitated. She knew several Mexicans who had migrated simply to find better jobs and support their families. They were hard workers, not rapists, she thought.
She began watching debates for the first time in her life and started thinking about voting.
Then TOP knocked at her door. They explained that this election would be critical, both locally and nationally. She listened and became more motivated. When TOP left, she knew she had to vote - no more excuses.
"When you have people like TOP take their time out to come knock on my door, it made me feel like 'Yeah, I need to do it,' " she said. "Trump is talking about how he is going to take immigrants back. I don't agree with it. If I can make a difference, I will go and do it."
Senior campaign managers took time to accompany canvassers on their rounds, with the aim of hearing for themselves whether their tactics needed to be tweaked or replaced. Meanwhile, all canvassers carried iPods and instantly entered the data they gleaned from their doorstep interviews. “We’d look at the numbers every evening,” explained Chrystal Zermeno, “to see if there were any trends. Then, in the morning, when the canvassers all came in, we’d ask the questions. Did we change the rap? Are you guys hearing something? Then we could tweak the message on the spot.”
In a post-election memo, Zermeno discussed the various victories and near-victories scored around the state. “In the deep red South,” she wrote, “this election demonstrated what we’ve believed about Texas for many years: Texas is the future. . . . Sí se puede.” Yes we can.
Texas Organizing Project, has built a neighborhood-based, voter mobilization machine that turned out tens of thousands of people in the 2015 Houston mayoral election and helped African-American Sylvester Turner capture the keys to City Hall, thereby creating a beachhead of progressive political power in what is seen as a conservative and red state.
Communist Party connections
Communist TOP leader
Texas Organizing Project November 6, 2014.
Houston Communist Party member Rev. James Caldwell,TOP leader, spoke a few minutes ago at a press conference held jointly with SEIU Texas and Mi Familia Vota - Texas asking President Obama to take immediate executive action to keep immigrant families together. You can help by calling the White House at 877-848-8289
- Comrades, I’d like to talk about the growth of the Houston club in the last year and a half , and the reason for that growth...
- We have a very close working relationship with Working America and with the Texas Organizing Project. Some of our members are actually organizing members into unions. Outside of this we are involved in the civil rights struggles, both in the immigration struggle, and against police brutality and voter suppression. These are some but not all of the areas of struggle our club were involved in. We had a large contingent in the recent Martin Luther King demonstration and last May Day we had over 45 people march with us in which we carried a red banner and an American flag. In both marches we carried the Communist Party of Houston banner and people before profit banner.
Texas Organizing Project October 12, 2017.
Thank you The Center for Community Change for recognizing the leadership of our members tonight in DC. — with Debra Walker, Michelle Tremillo, Feldon Bonner II, Mary Lassen, Verne Huey, Margarita Alvarez, Steven Halvorson, Liz Davila and Deepak Bhargava.
PowerPac+ Board of Directors
PowerPAC+ Board of Directors, as of 2017 included'
- Joaquin Guerra - Hebbronville, TX Texas Organizing Project - Hebbronville, TX Texas Organizing Project.
- Crystal Zermeno - Oakland, CA Consultant - Research, Politics, and Community Organizing, Texas Organizing Project.
"500,000 infrequent voters of color"
With Michelle Tremillo at the helm, and outgoing ED Ginny Goldman remaining on through 2016 to work on strategic initiatives, TOP is moving forward an ambitious agenda. In the fall, TOP will pilot the first community school in Dallas, putting the city on the path to have 20 community schools by 2020. Additionally, they are poised to win municipal ID ordinances in Dallas and Houston, providing immigrants a layer of protection in dealing with police and accessing essential services.
Heading into the election season, TOP is leading an innovative approach to voter registration, having formed a new coalition in Harris County to address systemic ways to add hundreds of thousands to the voter rolls. Their voter turnout program will launch in September with TOP and core allies targeting more than 500,000 infrequent voters of color in key Texas counties.
TOP staff photo
Texas Organizing Project June 30, 2016;
Today, we're celebrating Ginny Goldman's last day as TOP's executive director. Thank you Ginny for having the vision, passion and courage to help found this organization and for leading it for more than six years. We love you! — with Crystal Zermeno, Tarsha Jackson, Daniel Joseph Barrera, Mitzi Ordonez, Luvia Tapia, Mary Moreno Montejano, Tiffany Bergman Hogue, Tarah Taylor, Dorothy Dotty Wagner, Bri Brown, Michelle Tremillo, Gloria Villarreal, Robert Tiznado, Laquita Garcia, Ginny Goldman, Constance C. Luo, Allison Brim, John Moore, Brandon Morgan, Kimberly Olsen, Lola Garcia, Laura Perez-Boston and Silvia Chicas.
Personnel, December 2017
Texas Organizing Project Board
- Steve Halvorson, treasurer
- Rosie Castro, director
- Monica Lindsey, director
- Liz Davila, director
- Nayely Ruiz, director
Texas Organizing Project Education Fund Board
- Patricia Ward, president
- Debra Walker, director
- Carol Barger, treasurer
- Bonnie Mathias, director
- Yolanda Crosley, secretary
- Carmen Rhodes, director
- Ashindi Maxton, director
- Jessica Azua, State Immigration Organizer
- Daniel Barrera , Communications Coordinator
- Allison Brim, Education Campaign Director
- Brianna Brown, Deputy Director
- Juan Carlos Cerda, Community Organizer
- Blanca Espinoza, Data & Office Manager
- Laquita Garcia, Community Organizer
- Tiffany Hogue, Policy Director
- Rashd Ibrahim, Community Organizer
- Tarsha Jackson, Criminal Justice Director
- Empress Lindsey, Community Organizer
- Constance C. Luo, Community Organizer
- John Moore, Administrative Coordinator
- Mary Moreno, Communications Director
- Tim Morse, Director of Finance & HR
- Kimberly Olsen, Political Field Director
- Mitzi Ordonez, Community Organizer
- Laura Perez-Boston, Campaign Director
- Daisy Romero, Community Navigator Organizer
- Anita Scott, Community Organizer
- Alpa Sridharan, Operations Director
- Michelle Tremillo, Executive Director
- David Villalobos, Community Organizer
- Gloria Villarreal, Data & Office Manager
- Dorothy Wagner, Lead Organizer
- Liz Wolff, Training Director
- Crystal Zermeno, Director of Political Strategy
TOPPAC 2018 endorsements
Texas Organizing Project PAC, 2018 endorsements.
- Joe Gonzales for Bexar County District Attorney
- Trey Martinez Fischer for State Representative (Dist. 116)
- Sylvia Garcia for U.S. Congress (Dist. 29)
- State Representative Harold Dutton, Jr. (Dist. 142)
- Diane Trautman for Harris County Clerk
- Penny Shaw for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 4
- Judge Elizabeth Frizell for Dallas County District Attorney
- State Representative Victoria Neave (Dist. 107)
- Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins
- Terry Meza for State Representative (Dist. 105)
- Julie Johnson for State Representative (Dist. 115)
TOP 2016 endorsements
Texas Organizing Project PAC, November 6, 2016.
Instead of worrying about the outcome of the election, let's act to make sure we elect Hillary Clinton, Ed Gonzalez for Harris County Sheriff, Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney, Ann Harris Bennett for Tax Assessor Collector - Voter Registrar, Javier Salazar for Bexar County Sheriff, Pete Gallego for Congress, Victoria Neave for Texas State Representative and Friends for Terry Meza HD 105!
- 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.
- Houston Chronicle, How the fight against blue tarps was won Ginny Goldman, Part 1: 'There is this misconception that it's hard to get people engaged' By Vernon Loeb September 6, 2016
- 2017 issue of Mother Jones.
- [ https://organizingupgrade.com/politics-is-about-power-assessing-the-2018-midterms/ Organizing Upgrade, Politics is About Power: Assessing the 2018 Midterms By Max Elbaum These notes were the basis for a presentation to the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild on November 8, 2018]
- Harpers, Andrew Cockburn, / 2017 / MARCH
- Harpers, Andrew Cockburn, / 2017 / MARCH
- Harpers, Andrew Cockburn, / 2017 / MARCH
- Harpers, Andrew Cockburn, / 2017 / MARCH
- Houston Chronicle, The Texas Organizing Project: Canvassing for turnout in Houston's minority neighborhoods By Sebastian Herrera, Houston Chronicle October 29, 2016
- Harpers, Andrew Cockburn, / 2017 / MARCH
- [https://www.thenation.com/article/heres-an-organizing-strategy-to-revive-the-democratic-party-that-doesnt-depend-on-white-voters/The Nation Here’s an Organizing Strategy to Revive the Democratic Party That Doesn’t Depend on White Voters Many Democrats assume it’s impossible to get more people of color to vote. That’s just not true. By Steve PhillipsTwitter DECEMBER 22, 2016]
- The Nation The Key to Taking Back Our Country: Fortify the Front Lines of the Resistance By Steve PhillipsTwitter MARCH 27, 2017
- [http://www.cpusa.org/party_voices/convention-discussion-the-way-forward/ CPUSA Convention Discussion: The Way Forward HOME > PARTY VOICES > CONVENTION DISCUSSION: THE WAY FORWARD EmailShare BY: BERNARD SAMPSON| APRIL 8, 2014]
- PowerPAC+ Board of Directors, accessed Dec. 1, 2014.
- [ https://populardemocracy.org/blog/partner-update-texas-organizing-project-appoints-new-executive-director]
- [ https://populardemocracy.org/blog/partner-update-texas-organizing-project-appoints-new-executive-director ]