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.
September 10, 2015
Former TMO President Jan Wilbur Leaves Legacy of Leadership
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]
June 20, 2015
TMO & Texas IAF Allies Leverage $5 Million (again) for Job Training in Texas
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 that trains people out of low-wage employment and into living wage careers.
May 25, 2015
Texas IAF and Allies Kill Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill in Legislature
Leaders 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.
May 15, 2015
Lyons Elementary Parents Leaders Victorious Over School Rezoning Plan
TMO 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.
March 16, 2015
Rev. Ogletree Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee on Border Security
March 11, 2015
Lyons Elementary Parent Leaders Fight HISD Rezoning Plan
TMO 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.
February 26, 2015
Julia Ramirez: More Than Tweaks Needed to Fix Bus System
According 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]
January 28, 2015
TMO Leadership Respond to David Brooks: Programs You Call For Already Exist!
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:
December 11, 2014
TMO Leaders in Pasadena Build Relationship with Police
200 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]
November 14, 2014
Houston Chronicle Lauds TMO for 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]
November 13, 2014
TMO Challenges Houston PD Over Crime in North Houston
When TMO leaders were asked to stand if they had been personally impacted by crime, half the room stood on its feet at Assumption Catholic Church in in North Houston. Leaders had gathered at Assumption Catholic Church to confront Houston Police Department officers with stories of relentless auto-theft, campus drug sales and physical assaults in North Houston. Councilmember Gonzalez was on hand to respond as well.
Cansados del Crimen Que Azota Al Norte De Houston, Univision 45 [Spanish]
November 11, 2014
TMO Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Gala Event
The Metropolitan Organization celebrated its 30th anniversary of its charter with a gala event highlighting how it has worked with the voiceless to help transform their anger into leadership. Hosted at St. Theresa Catholic Church, leaders honored Catholic Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, Rev. William A. Lawson and Rabbi Emeritus Samuel E. Karff.
The Metropolitan Organization Celebrates 30th Anniversary, Honors Three Community Heroes, Texas Catholic Herald [pdf]
October 6, 2014
TMO Battles East End Crime & Feral Dogs
Three hundred TMO leaders piled into Immaculate Conception Catholic Church to Make known to officials that students of De Zavala Elementary deserve to be protected from the dangers posed by packs of stray dogs roaming the campus. They explained that the issue emerged in ‘house meetings’ in which people gathered to share their concerns.
Leaders told stories about family members getting bitten by dogs on the streets, as well as stories about neighborhood crime. TMO convened the assembly to engage City Councilmember Robert Gallegos and State Senator Sylvia Garcia on these issues.
Stray Dog Complaints on the Rise On East End, ABC 13 News
Residents in the East End Come Together, FOX 26 News
July 30, 2014
TMO Calls on President, Congress to Stop Speedy Deportations
TMO clergy and bishops from major religious denominations in Houston held a press conference calling on the President and Congress to “welcome” unaccompanied children from Central America and guarantee protections afforded to them in the Trafficking Victims Act of 2008. Religious leaders from Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, COGIC and Baptist denominations were vocal about the need to stop speedy deportations, given the violent conditions children are fleeing. Nineteen local clergy signed a letter to the President, including former Catholic Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, Episcopal Bishops C. Andrew Doyle and Jeff Fisher, Lutheran Bishop Michael Rinehart, General Presbyter Mike Cole of the Presbytery of the New Covenant and Bishop Rufus Kyles Jr. of the Church of God in Christ.
Rev. John Ogletree, pastor of First Metropolitan Church, argued that “Houston is a hospitable …compassionate city. We demonstrated that when we opened our hearts and homes to those suffering from Hurricane Katrina. We should do that again.”
[Photo Credit: Billy Smith II, Houston Chronicle]
June 19, 2014
TMO Leverages an ADDITIONAL $500K for Capital IDEA-Houston
Less than four weeks after Capital IDEA-Houston was awarded a $500K Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant to train more community college students for living wage careers, leaders of The Metropolitan Organization of Houston leveraged an additional $500 thousand in local money after testifying at City Hall.
The money will come from two sources of funding: $250 thousand from Community Development Block Grants and another $250 thousand from a City of Houston budget line-item, marking the first time Capital IDEA-Houston has been included in the City budget.
City Budget Increases After-School Spending, Gives Each District $1 Million for Projects, Houston Chronicle
May 23, 2014
TMO’s Capital Idea Praised by Texas Representatives Zerwas & Turner
TMO leaders celebrated word that Capital IDEA-Houston won a Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant, giving it half a million dollars to train hundreds more community college students for living wage careers in Houston. TMO, with its sister organizations in the Texas IAF, helped establish the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant to support projects that prepare low-income workers to attain degrees and certificates in high demand occupations including nursing and information technology.
Texas State Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) praised Capital IDEA-Houston, declaring he “could not find a better use of $500K than to invest in Capital IDEA-Houston.”
Texas State Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) chimed in adding “we should continue to invest $5 Million in these [workforce development] projects.”
The award will support about 250 students attending Houston Community College and Lone Star College. In an interview with NPR, Fr. Kevin Collins said the money will be used to prepare low-income students to enter careers in health care, information technology and manufacturing. “The graduates are thrilled to be part of our program, and their families are really benefiting and they are really excited to move into great careers!”
April 2, 2014
Archbishop Fiorenza Praises Resurrection Catholic & TMO for Work on Schools
“Regarding “Board president spares 3 schools from closure” (Page B1, March 6), the decision of the Houston Independent School Board to keep Port Houston Elementary open was critically important to the surrounding community.
The closure of the school would not only force its children to attend a far distant school, but it also would have eliminated an institution which gives vitality, stability, a sense of confidence and well-being to the community.
I want to thank the HISD board for this decision and congratulate parishioners of Divina Providencia Church, its pastor, Father Chris Plant, the parents of the children, and Neighbors in Action for working with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) to keep Port Houston open.
They have demonstrated Pope Francis’ exhortation for parishes to get involved in the community.
As Pope Francis stated: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.””
– By Joseph A. Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of Galveston-Houston
April 1, 2014
Pressures Are Everywhere!
Many leaders have now been trained to do the pressures workshop and are scheduling sessions in their congregations. So far sessions are set at Chapelwood UMC, Memorial Drive UMC, Evangelist Temple COGIC, First Metropolitan, Grace UCC, Our Mother of Mercy Catholic, St. Francis Catholic and Trinity UMC. On May 4, leaders from all member congregations are asked to report who they have identified as new leaders and the top three pressures on families from that congregation. Leaders should invite new people identified in house meetings to this training and strategy meeting.
April 1, 2014
Alief Middle School Teachers & Leaders Walk for Power
TMO leaders from Memorial Drive United Methodist Church joined teachers from Alief Middle School to talk with parents of 5th graders who will attend Alief Middle School. Pictured are the walkers and also the many parents who attended the orientation.
Varios líderes de Memorial Drive UMC junto con maestros de Alief Middle School visitaron con padres de hijos en el 5to grado que van a ir a Alief Middle School. Retratado son los caminantes y también los padres que fueron a la orientación.
March 13, 2014
Resurrection Catholic Church & TMO Stop Neighborhood School Closures!
When the Houston Independent School District Superintendent proposed the closure of five schools to cut costs, concerned parents noted that in at least one case students from a higher performing school would be re-directed to a struggling one. Port Houston Elementary School parents, who happened to worship at Resurrection Catholic Church, quickly organized a challenge to the closures in partnership with TMO, which their church had just joined.
Concerned TMO leaders met with HISD board members, in addition to meeting with parents and educators, to figure out how to preserve these schools. On Thursday, March 13th, over 100 leaders and parents descended upon the HISD board meeting and recognized board president Juliet Stipeche for removing Port Houston Elementary, Nathaniel Henderson Elementary and Fleming Middle School from the closure list.
In photo: Father Christopher Plant, pastor at Resurrection Catholic Church, congratulates Port Houston parents and leaders for their turnout and presentation at the HISD school board meeting.
Battling Human Trafficking
TMO is partnering with the American Jewish Committee and others to hold an immigration summit Tues. March 18 at Rice University. The summit will focus on immigration and human trafficking, and will feature Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.
“Today, in this country, women and children continue to suffer from unspeakable violence because they are afraid to seek help without legal status. Globally, 78 percent of those trafficked suffer from forced labor, including domestic servitude, farm and factory work in the U.S. Immigrant survivors of abuse without legal status are, according to one study, half as likely to call the police to seek the help they need. We must act by passing immigration reform legislation.”
March 5, 2014
Pressures Are On!
TMO has hosted trainings throughout Houston on “Pressures on Families.” So far, over 40 leaders are trained to give the workshop. Leaders are learning that one of the economic pressures on families is stagnating wages. A training session to learn how to host house meetings will be held on March 9, 2014 at All Saints Catholic Church at 3pm.
March 5, 2014
New Member Joins TMO!
Congratulations Doug Pierre!
February 16, 2014
Healthcare Marketplace Still Open for Business
TMO leaders are informing communities that there is still time to enroll in the healthcare marketplace with sessions at Evangelist Temple, Assumption and Liestman Elementary (Alief “ISD). The deadline to enroll is March 31. still time to enroll in the healthcare marketplace with sessions at Evangelist Temple, Assumption and Liestman Elementary (Alief “ISD). The deadline to enroll is March 31.
In photo, Assumption leaders Maribel Guevara, Lourdes Badillo and Nolvia Artiga host a large healthcare session in Spanish on Jan. 12.
January 31, 2014
Seminar with Rabbinical Scholar Dr. Eskenazi
Leaders of TMO joined representatives from sister organizations of the West / Southwest IAF for two days of study with rabbinical scholar Dr. Tamara Eskenazi.
[Burton Bagby-Grose, a TMO leader at First Congregational, is pictured with scholar and author Dr. Tamara Eskenazi in Las Vegas on Feb. 1.]
Clergy and leaders read and discussed Torah commentaries on Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.
January 10, 2014
Still Dreaming of Reform
The Houston Chronicle included the following in its editorial about immigration reform:
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, bottom right, speaks during a press conference at St Paul’s United Methodist Church urging the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Houston. Individuals from The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) and members of an Interfaith coalition of Houston area religious leaders urged congress to keep families together, protect workers and “Dreamers,” and provide a workable path to citizenship. These faith leaders find the “Safe Act” bill unacceptable, as well as any legislation that addresses only border security. (Photo Credit: Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle)
Full Article, Houston Chronicle
November 5, 2013
Healthcare Enrollment in Houston
TMO and the Houston Interfaith Sponsoring Committee recently graduated one hundred leaders from its healthcare bootcamps; all of which have committed to returning to their congregations and institutions to teach others about the federal healthcare marketplace. Congregations are also planning walks and neighborhood rallies to raise awareness.
For more information contact Lead Organizer Elizabeth Valdez: TMO@tmohouston.net.
November 5, 2013
King: Proposed Immigration Reforms Would Unfairly Brand Children as Criminals
Diana stood before the cameras and the microphones and in a quiet, nervous voice began to tell her story about coming to America. The 18-year-old, who will be graduating from high school this year as a member of the National Honor Society, spoke in perfect English. She spoke effusively about her love of Houston and Texas and America. If you were to meet her on the street, you would not have the slightest suspicion she had not been born in this country.
Full Article, Houston Chronicle
November 4, 2013
Houston Clergy Urge Lawmakers to Defeat Immigration Enforcement Plan
Houston clergy joined dozens of immigration reform supporters Wednesday to call for Congress to reject legislation that would permit tougher penalties and enforcement for an illegal presence in the United States.
At a news conference organized by The Metropolitan Organization, leaders also urged those who oppose the SAFE Act to contact their representatives in Congress and ask for comprehensive immigration reform…
Full Article, Houston Chronicle
April 23, 2013
Lideres de Iglesias Urgen Por Reforma Migratoria
Sacerdotes, ministros, pastores, obispos y rabinos de diferentes denominaciones religiosas de iglesias de esta ciudad lanzaron un llamado a Washington. Los religiosos piden una reforma migratoria integral que respete la dignidad y derechos de cada persona. Dirigentes de iglesias lanzaron su pedido este martes desde el altar de la Sinagoga Beth Israel de esta ciudad…
Full Article, La Semana de News
April 23, 2013
Business Leaders Join Clergy in Support of Immigration Reform
Stan Marek, of Marek Brothers Construction, stood alongside Texas judicatory leaders in support of immigration reform at a press conference organized by TMO. Marek asserted that if the legislature does not pass immigration reform this year, that President Obama should instate it through other administrative means, as was done with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In photo, Stan Marek speaks out for immigration reform. [Photo Credit: Olivia P. Tallet]
Full Article, La Voz de Houston [Spanish]
April 23, 2013
Faith, Business Leaders Encouraged by Immigration Bill
When Gabriela Nieto was brought to this country, she was young and already dreaming of becoming a teacher. Only one semester away from graduation from the University of Houston-Downtown, she can accept a teaching position, now that her DACA application has been approved.
Religious leaders gathered from across Houston, including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel said the highest priority should create a process for undocumented immigrants like her to earn legal status and eventual citizenship. [Photo Credit: Nick De La Torre, Houston Chronicle]
Full Article, Houston Chronicle
TMO Responds to Bi-Partisan Senate Immigration Bill, Texas Catholic Herald News
Clergy Urge Support for Immigration Reform, Jewish Herald Voice
February 20, 2013
Death, Taxes, God & Medicaid
Interfaith activists, recalling friends and loved ones who have died for want of health care coverage, rallied at the Capitol Wednesday in support of expanding the Medicaid program to cover more uninsured Texans…
Full Article, Houston Chronicle
February 20, 2013
Interfaith Groups Rally for Medicaid Expansion
Two hundred leaders from TMO and other organizations of the Texas IAF gathered on the front steps of the Capitol to demand that the Texas legislature approve the expansion of Medicaid, which would help over on million Texans obtain access to health care services.
[Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune]
Full Article, Texas Tribune