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 Celebrates Jan Wilbur's Legacy of Leadership

1509 - TMO - Jan Wilbur - Obituary

Please join us as we celebrate Jan Wilbur's legacy on Saturday, November 14th at 2 pm at First Congregational Church, 10840 Beinhorn Rd., Houston 77024 (Katy freeway going toward San Antonio and exit on Voss Rd. )

Jan Wilbur was essential to the creation of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO). In the words of Sr. Christine Stephens, Wilbur "worked side by side with me to build the Houston sponsoring committee. I went on to organize and she became the first and only president of TMO... [She was] a great lady."

Wilbur was a founding member of The Metropolitan Organization of Houston (TMO) in 1980. While there, she worked to pair low-income people with those who had means in order to make a difference in their lives.

Says Wilbur's daughter Rita, "She wanted people to have the power to determine their own lives." In line with that, voter registration cards will be distributed at her memorial service.

[Photo: Courtesy of Wilbur family]

Activist Wilbur Dedicated Her Life to Helping Others, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

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Texas IAF Leverages $5 Million for Job Training

Following up on its $5 million win from the last legislative session in 2013, Texas IAF leaders - including several from TMO - succeeded in ensuring that the Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant program (and its $5 million in funding) stayed on the Texas budget. This means that Texas IAF workforce development programs like Capital IDEA-Houston, Project ARRIBA, VIDA, Project QUEST, SkillsQuest and Capital IDEA of Austin can apply for these funds to expand the job training they currently offer.

Capital IDEA-Houston, founded by TMO, is an integral strategy to train people out of low-wage employment and into living wage careers.

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Texas IAF, Allies Kill Anti-Sanctuary Bill

1503 - Texas IAF - Immigration TestimonyLeaders from Texas IAF organizations across the state, including TMO leader Rev. John Ogletree of First Metropolitan Church of Houston, drove into Austin for the bi-annual legislative session to fight Senate Bill 185. This bill would have outlawed sanctuary cities in Texas and threatened local efforts to build better relations between police and communities. The intervention of Texas IAF leaders, including testimony by Rev. Ogletree and Fr. Carlos Zuniga (Valley Interfaith), and allies, succeeded in killing the bill.

In photo, Fr. Carlos Zuniga of Valley Interfaith and Rev. John Ogletree of TMO testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security.

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Lyons Elementary Parent Leaders Victorious Against Rezoning

1505 - TMO - Lyons Elementary School Victory - CroppedTMO Lyons parents won an 8-1 school board vote against proposed boundary changes to their school. The changes would have sent students from one of the top ranked schools in the state to one ranked in the lowest 18% statewide. Parents signed up 600 petitioners opposed to the change to convinced board members this was a bad idea.

Rosa Rivera told board members, "We want you to listen to us. Don't move our children." Demonstrating that the voices of organized parents get heard, the board rejected the the proposed plan.

Split HISD Board Rejects Most Rezoning Plans, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

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Lyons Elementary Leaders Delay Board Vote on Rezoning Plan

1503 - TMO - Lyons Elementary School ActionTMO leaders and parents of children attending Lyons Elementary held a pre-board meeting press conference to detail their concerns about the latest HISD proposal to rezone elementary schools. Rosa Rivera argued that a plan to shift new students to nearby elementary schools would negatively impact the education of her children as the nearby schools are not as high quality as Lyons. "Before they start to do all these movements, I would like HISD to improve the schools."

Trustees decided to postpone the vote.

Parents Upset About HISD Relocation Proposal, KPRC

HISD Board Tables Rezoning Plan Amid Concerns, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

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More Than Tweaks Needed to Fix Metro Bus Service

1502 - TMO - HC - Harris County Metro Flex Routes - Gary CoronadoAccording to regular Metro bus rider Julia Ramirez, it is going to take a lot more than minor changes to make bus service in Houston more rider friendly. She notes that her commute takes at least two hours each way, and requires three transfers. She presents a four-step proposal for wholesale improvement in the article below. [Photo Credit: Gary Coronado, Houston Chronicle ]

More Than Tweaks Needed to Achieve Rider-Friendly Bus Service, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

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TMO to David Brooks (NYT): Support the Programs That Support Our Students!

Responding to David Brooks' assertion that the President's proposal to provide cost-free community college access is not enough, TMO leaders Rev. Kevin Collins, Mr. Franklin Olson and Mr. Bob Fleming agree, but go further to share the good news that the programs Brooks calls for already exist in Texas.

"Local programs in San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Dallas and the Rio Grande Valley developed by IAF affiliates have graduated thousands of students from our community colleges, lifting them out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. These initiatives are ripe for expansion and replication." Capital IDEA-Houston is just one of such programs. Read more below:

Local Programs Aid Community College Students, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

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Houston Religious Denounce Efforts to Undermine Exec Action, Call for Comprehensive Reform

1501 - TMO - Press Conference - Univision SnapshotDays before a planned House effort which could impact the latest executive action program initiated by the President, Houston judicatory leaders and TMO held a joint press conference urging Congress to do the opposite - to expand on the action and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Bishops and religious leadership from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faiths banded together to deliver the joint statement.

Dinardo Agradece la Accion Ejecutiva Pero Dice Que No Es Suficiente, La Voz de Houston

Talleres Informativos Sobre la Accion Deferida, Univision Houston 45

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TMO Builds Relationship with Pasadena Police to Fight Crime

1412 - TMO - Public Safety Action at St. Peter Episcopal Church200 TMO leaders assembled at St. Peter Catholic Church with an agenda: to clearly lay out their public safety concerns to the police and obtain responses to those concerns. They walked away with much more.

Assistant Police Chief Josh Bruegger related, "It is important..., obviously to us, that we have this relationship." Father Pedro Lopez of St. Peter Episcopal told leaders,"We have a moral obligation to do everything within our power to stop crime in our community. We do not want more people robbed at gunpoint, we do not want our children to be victims of drug use, of gun violence or our homes to be vandalized. Be good Samaritans, take action and keep our eyes open, and call and report any crime. Will you commit to that today?"

[Photo Credit: Y. C. Orozco, Pasadena Citizen]

Church Leaders, Police Officials Meet for Discussion on Crime in North Pasadena, Pasadena Citizen [pdf]

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Houston Chronicle Credits TMO With Changing Lives

The Houston Chronicle's editorial board credited TMO not only with changing lives, but for working "with the voiceless to help transmute their anger into leadership." The board notes that there are two Houstons, concerned about dramatically different things:

"In one, inhabitants fret over whether to eat sushi for dinner or to grill outdoors. In the other, citizens worry about their lack of access to health care. One set of Houstonians may struggle with traffic on Loop 610, but the other set lives below the freeways as well as below the poverty line. Our city may be technically solving "the homeless problem," but low-wage workers chase affordable month-to-month housing in the other Houston." Read the rest below:

TMO at 30: The Metropolitan Organization's Successes Have Changed the Lives of People, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

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