Oakland Rising educates and mobilizes voters in the flatlands to speak up for and take charge of the issues impacting our lives. We are a multilingual, multiracial collaborative with deep roots in East and West Oakland's neighborhoods, proving that everyday residents working together have the power to change the way our city is run. With longtime Oakland families and our newest neighbors working shoulder to shoulder, we are building on Oakland’s incredibly rich history to advance smart, community-first solutions for a thriving Town.
Our current work focuses on three major goals through which we are developing critical and key pieces of infrastructure necessary to build progressive power in Oakland:
- Build a permanent political/electoral infrastructure;
- Exercise and expand political influence; and
- Align organizations and coordinate with other progressive forces.
Oakland Rising is a front for Liberation Road.Oakland Rising emerged in 2006 when the Executive Directors from APEN, Ella Baker Center, E-BASE, and Urban Habitat recognized the need for an electoral strategy to complement the base building and policy organizing that they and like-minded organizations were undertaking with progressive, low-income, people of color, and immigrants in Oakland. For years, the progressive community had been attending City Hall rallies, lining up dozens deep for two-minute council testimonies and meeting with elected officials who deemed their input as an obligation rather than a strategic partnership. In issue after issue, community members and advocates showed up at City Hall in the hundreds, only to learn that deals on key issues impacting their families and neighborhoods had been cut weeks and months before. To counteract this reality, the founding Executive Directors envisioned an alliance of organizations that aligned with their civic engagement work, collectively worked on electoral organizing, and strengthened the social justice movement in Oakland.
From 2008 to 2015, the organization grew, gained support, and garnered victories. In September 2008, the collaborative hired Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont as its first Executive Director. A year later, Jessamyn Sabbag joined the staff as the first Field Director. From 2009 until 2015, this dynamic team built the organizational base from a few thousand to 52,000 voters who supported progressive issues and policies -- a sizeable cohort comprising 20% of the electorate in Oakland. Organizational members also grew from four to nine during the period. Together, the collaborative won flagship policies at the local and state level. These included a minimum wage increase; a tenant protection ordinance; a landmark good jobs policy that included living wages, local hires, and job access for workers with disadvantages, prior incarceration, and other employment barriers; Prop 47, a state measure reallocating resources from incarceration to community-based re-entry services; and Proposition 30, a state measure that returned $6 billion into the state for critical services by raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians.
In 2015, founding Executive Director, Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett, transitioned out of the organization, replaced by long-time Deputy Director, Jessamyn Sabbag. With Jessamyn’s seven years of experience at Oakland Rising and a fresh team by her side, Oakland Rising further invested into our Values-Based Leadership programs aimed at cultivating local, grassroots leaders who are accountable to progressive, community values. Under her leadership, the staff size has more than doubled, and programs have expanded to include youth-specific voter engagement and training to build technology skills for organizers.
We envision an Oakland that realizes our shared dreams of health, happiness, safety and opportunity for all. A Town that stands for progress and sustainability, that models what is possible in American cities of the 21st century. We believe we can erase the racial, economic, political, environmental and educational inequities that have created barriers between us, and find collective strength in our city's diversity. We know that Oakland can reach its full potential when residents of any neighborhood, students of any school, riders of any bus can help lead our city into the future. We believe that this vision is possible, and that we will achieve it one vote, one meeting, one march at a time.
We connect progressive organizations and activists, community members, leaders, labor and faith-based institutions to Oakland’s progressive political electoral and movement building work. Our collaborative includes:
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network
- Causa Justa/Just Cause
- Mujeres Unidas Y Activas
- Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
- Bend the Arc
- Parent Voices Oakland
- St Mary’s Center
- Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice
Oakland Rising staff, November 2019.
- Jessamyn Sabbag, Executive Director
- Elly Rhee, Interim Deputy Director
- Beth Gunston, Strategic Partnerships Director
- Laneisha Butler, Community Organizer
- Liz Suk, Leadership Development Manager
- Sheryl Walton, Field Fundraising Manager
- Jackie Artman, Field Fundraising Team Member
- Vernetta Woods, Field Fundraising Team Member
- Jonathan Szkup-Valdez, Field Fundraising Team Member
- Miranda Kraus, Field Fundraising Team Member
Oakland Rising 5 year birthday party
June 2013 Oakland Rising poster; ·
Our 5 year birthday party is just 10 days away! Do you have your ticket yet? — with Richard Raya, Nikki Fortunato Bas, Pamela Drake, Jahmese Kathleen Myres, Michael Riemenschneider, Andy Katz, Mimi Ho, Igor Tregub, Andy Kelley, Steven Pitts, Melanie Cervantes, Nicole Derse, Lailan Sandra Huen, Kim Carter Martinez, Nwamaka Agbo, Brooke Anderson, Mary Thomas, Kate O'Hara, Timmy Lu, Peggy Moore, Dani McClain, EO Okiwelu, Lanese Martin, Marc Philpart, Rebecca Saltzman, Alex T. Tom, Jose A. Dorado, Rachel Richman, Tonya Love, Sheryl Walton, Andrea Lee, Aimee Allison, Sharon Rose, Rebecca Kaplan, Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont|Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett, Cole B. Cole, Jessamyn Sabbag, Malcolm Amado Uno, Phil Hutchings, Michelle Matos and Maria Poblet.