The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) is an organization of institutions dedicated to developing power and leadership among citizens in order to transform the city. We work to create relational power that can build and strengthen each member institution as well as shape public policy for the common good. TMO was formed in 1980 to give a voice to people who are usually excluded from major decisions that affect their lives. TMO is a part of a larger network of organizations known as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a nationwide organizing institute with a fifty year history. TMO is also part of the West / Southwest IAF regional network and the Industrial Areas Foundation national network.

TMO believes that a truly democratic society requires the active participation of ordinary citizens. When people lack the means to connect to power and participate effectively in public life, social relationships disintegrate. Our model of relational organizing helps build real community. It generates social capital through a tight web of relationships across lines of race, ethnicity, class, faith, and geography. This social capital enables us to participate fully in public life and to become more effective actors in our communities.


TMO Recognizes Rev. John W. Bowie for his Leadership and Dedication

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TMO recognizes Rev. John W. Bowie for his leadership and dedication in tackling social issues and his work around immigration and civic engagement.  An active leader with TMO, Reverend Bowie was a vocal advocate on behalf of struggling families.

In 2010, the New York Times described his courage and solidarity in this way: 

The Rev. John W. Bowie knows it is hard to sell the people in his neighborhood on the idea that they should support changing immigration laws to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. His church lies in one of the oldest black settlements in the city, where unemployment is high and many people see immigrants as competitors for jobs.

Yet there he was in the pulpit at True Light Missionary Baptist Church on the Fourth of July, with a full choir behind him, urging his flock to support an overhaul of immigration laws that “lets the undocumented come out of the shadows.”

“All 13 colonies were made up of illegal aliens because they had not gotten permission from the residents here, who were the Indians,” he said. “Then a few years later, they brought us here and made us illegal, too. These immigrants, we immigrants, have built the greatest nation in the world, coming from everywhere, all over, because, you see, nobody owns this world except God.”

Houston's Clergy Unites to Urge Support for Immigration ReformNew York Times [pdf

Houston Clergy, Politicians Gather for Immigration Prayer ServiceHouston Chronicle

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'Recognizing the Stranger' Training Prepares 111 for Congregational Leadership

In a multi-day training co-sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Mission and Ministry, Inc. (MMI), the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF and The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), 111 predominantly Spanish-speaking leaders from 25 Houston-area congregations convened to learn how to be effective leaders in their communities.  Most the leaders came from Spanish-speaking Catholic and Episcopal congregations.  

Parish leaders participated in leadership development workshops and engaged with scripture and their religious traditions as they reflected on their roles in public life.  Groups from each parish were encouraged to engage with their pastor and parish leadership to explore opportunities for local training and the development of a listening campaign this year for their parishes and communities.

Milestones: Catholic Campaign, TMO Offers Leadership Training for Hispanic ParishionersTexas Catholic Herald

Leadership Development at Assumption Catholic ChurchThe Metropolitan Organization (TMO)

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Houston Chronicle Credentials Project QUEST Job Training Model

Reflecting on an independent study of the long-term job training program on which Capital IDEA-Houston is modeled, Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson writes that: 

"Programs to train low-skilled, underemployed adults to move up the economic ladder are notoriously ineffective, but Project Quest in San Antonio has hit on a formula with a now-proven track record....

In a nine-year longitudinal studyProject Quest participants made more money, obtained more skills and worked more hours than a demographically-identical control group."

Marc Elliott, CEO of Economic Mobility Corp, asserts that “to see earning differences this large and for this long is unprecedented in the workforce development field.”  Economic Mobility is the organization that conducted the nine-year evaluation.

Capital IDEA-Houston, which was established by TMO, is modeled on Project QUEST.   In right-side photos above, trainees learn to conduct PERRLA evaluations and cradle newborns.  [Photo Credit: Jerry Lara, San Antonio Express-News]

San Antonio Program Moves Low-Skilled into Middle ClassHouston Chronicle [pdf]

Nine Year Gains: Project QUEST's Continuing ImpactEconomic Mobility Corporation [pdf]

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TMO and Texas IAF Leaders Push Legislative Committee to Delay Vote on Extreme Payday Lending Proposal

Rev. Darrell Lewis from The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) and Rev. Olin Knudsen from Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) testified before the House Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee to oppose House Bill 3292.  Both pastors argued that payday loans are immoral and spoke of how predatory loans trap families in their congregations in vicious cycles of debt.

Rev. Olin Knudsen, a retired Major in the United States Air Force shared that when he served in the military in Korea, no payday loan centers were permitted outside the base.  In the United States, however, they are everywhere.  He asked, "Why do we need more forms of predatory loans that prey on families?  If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it is a duck!" 
HB 3292 is a dangerous predatory lending bill which would open the door to new, unregulated high-cost cash advances.  Specifically, HB3292 would exploit a loophole to provide a way for someone to “sell” a TV or a car and “lease it back“ by keeping the item and making payments every two weeks.  The “seller” leaves a check for the price of the TV, say, which the company cashes can cash when “seller” gets behind in lease payments.  Because you “sell” an  item and “lease it back” it does not count as an actual loan.  It operates like a payday loan, but would circumvent current payday and auto title lending ordinances.  

The Network of Texas IAF Organizations is calling on House members to oppose this bill and/or take their names off if they have already signed on. 

House Bill 3292 Fact SheetTexas Fair Lending Alliance
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TMO Leaders Join Texas IAF Leaders to Call on Legislature to 'Invest in People'

50 TMO leaders joined 250 other Texas IAF leaders at the Capitol to call on state legislators to increase state finance for adult and K-12 education, including the ACE fund

After a morning briefing on school finance, the Texas Innovative Career Education (ACE) program and other issues -- including healthcare, payday lending, and infrastructure in the colonias -- leaders were honored for their establishment of noteworthy labor market intermediaries, including Capital IDEA-Houston.  Immediately afterward, they convened on the South Capitol steps.  Legislators representing districts from across the state stood in solidarity with leaders and pledged to continue working for investments in people.  

In photo above, the Rev. Dr. Rhenel Johnson is accompanies by TMO leaders and leaders from sister organizations, including Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI), San Antonio (COPS/Metro), Central Texas / Austin Interfaith,  West Texas Organizing Strategy (WTOS), El Paso's Border Interfaith & EPISO, and the Rio Grande Valley (Valley Interfaith). 

After the press conference, leaders broke out into smaller delegations to meet with legislators representing their geographic regions.     

Organizations Call On State Legislators to Support Adult EducationUnivision 62 [Spanish video] 

Piden a Legisladores Texanos Más Fondos Para Apoyar la Educación de AdultosUnivision 62 

Valley Interfaith: State's Share of School Funding Has Dropped From 50% to Barely 36%Rio Grande Guardian  

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TMO & Texas IAF Clergy Testify at House Public Education Committee Hearing on School Finance

Minister Jaqueline Hailey of New Hope Baptist Church and TMO testified with Fr. Miles Brandon of St Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church and Central TX Interfaith on behalf of the Network of Texas IAF Organizations at the Texas House Public Education Committee hearing on school finance.

The Network of Texas IAF Organizations is calling on legislators to 'invest in people' through increased spending on public schools and adult workforce education programs.   

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TMO Convenes Gun Safety Vigil w/ Houston PD Chief

[Excerpts below]

As the state legislature prepares to convene, local clergy and The Metropolitan Organization on Sunday held a gun control vigil at Trinity United Methodist Church. Those present spoke passionately about gun safety policies.

“Despite the fact that we’re supposed to be a first-world country, a civilized nation, a nation of laws, we continue to see the scourge of gun violence in the United States,” said Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo....

David Lyon, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, read an opinion piece he wrote for the Houston Chronicle in January of 2013. After every mass shooting in the years since, he has referred to the article and says he could still write it word for word. He eventually published a version for his congregation with blanks instead of the words “Sandy Hook” so that members could fill in the name of the latest disaster.  

“Our purpose here is to stop filling in the blanks and change the narrative,” Lyon said.

For the Rev. Ed Jones, the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, the urgency of the vigil that he had been planning for months had been underscored by personal tragedy that very week. 

A family member, 17-year-old Drew Conley, had been shot and killed the Monday before.

[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle]

Houstonians Recall Sandy Hook Victims and Push for Gun Law ChangesHouston Chronicle

Legislators on Quest to reform Gun LawsHouston Chronicle

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TMO Pushes Back Against Proposed Changes to "Public Charge"

One day before Thanksgiving, the Houston Chronicle published a letter submitted by TMO clergy Rabbi David Lyon, Rev. Albert Zanetta and Rev. Simón Bautista.  

[Excerpt below]

This past week, many of us sat down with our extended families at Thanksgiving celebrations. As faith leaders, we teach that family is sacred. We are moved to keep families together, so they may thrive together.

The Trump administration has proposed a policy that would force immigrant families to make an impossible choice between caring for their children, parents and grandparents and keeping their family together in the United States. The proposed changes to the 100-year-old “public charge” regulation will make it more difficult for an immigrant to become a legal permanent resident or obtain a visa to visit the United States if he is not wealthy, have a preexisting health condition, or participate in programs that support health, nutrition and housing stability....

Don't Penalize Children for Being Poor, Especially After HarveyHouston Chronicle [pdf

Push Back Against Proposed Changes to 'Public Charge'TMO

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TMO Leaders Organize GOTV Neighborhood Walks and Phone Banks, Increase Turnout

TMO leaders knocked on hundreds of doors and contacted thousands of voters by phone through organized Get Out The Vote walks and phone banks around their churches in Houston, Cypress, and Pasadena.  While 63% more people voted in Texas this year, targeted precincts far outperformed the statewide average.  In one targeted Cypress precinct, leaders called hundreds of voters and voter turnout increased by 95.65%. In another targeted precinct, in Pasadena, leaders called hundreds of voters and turnout increased by 117.65%!

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700+ Leaders Participate in TMO Accountability Sessions at St. Leo the Great Catholic, Congregation Beth Israel, and St. Pius V Catholic

In advance of the fall midterm elections, TMO leaders gathered and publicly challenged candidates running for office to, if elected, commit to working with them on immigration, job training, expansion of health care, flooding mitigation and Harvey Rebuilding, public education, college debt, and payday lending.  Participating candidates publicly stated their stance on these issues and made commitments to TMO leaders to support and/or craft policy in these areas.

Candidates challenged included U.S. Rep. District 29 Phillip Aronoff (R) and Sylvia Garcia (D), Harris County Commissioner Precinct 2 Adrian Garcia (D), Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (R) and Lina Hidalgo (D); Texas Senate District 17 Rita Lucido (D), House District 133 Marty Schexnayder (D), House District 135 Jon Rosenthal (D), and House District 144 Mary Ann Perez (D).

After the assemblies, leaders organized neighborhood walks and phone banks through which they knocked on hundreds of doors in targeted districts and contacted thousands of voters by phone.

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