A Project From the Heart for the Progress of Our People

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.

Today, Oakland Rising is looking to the future and ready to meet new challenges while remaining committed to building a thriving progressive community in Oakland.




570 14th Street, Suite 6
Oakland, CA 94612

Oakland Rising and our collaborative partners are united in our vision for a city that embodies health, happiness, safety, and equal opportunities for all. Our goal is to create a model of progress and sustainability that showcases the possibilities for American cities in the 21st century. We are committed to dismantling the barriers of racial, economic, political, environmental, and educational inequities that have divided us, and instead, embracing the collective strength found in our city’s diversity. We firmly believe that Oakland can achieve its full potential when every resident, student, and bus rider has the ability to shape our city’s future. This vision is attainable and we are determined to realize it through our collective actions, whether it’s through voting, meetings, or call to actions.

Every year, we release a Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform (VIPP) which outlines the annual policies that we and our eight partner organizations prioritize in order to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice in the Town. Our collaborative’s agenda encompasses a range of critical initiatives, from expanding affordable housing to creating a more equitable democracy through campaign finance reforms. These priorities are designed to provide vital protections and innovative solutions for the most vulnerable members of our community. As we continue our efforts to promote these policies, we hold conversations with thousands of voters, lead and co-host impactful town hall meetings, educate and mobilize residents and voters, and undertake various other initiatives.

To gain a deeper understanding of our commitment to resist, protect, and advance in this political moment, we invite you to explore our 2023 Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform. Together, we are making strides towards a more equitable and just Oakland, and we remain steadfast in our pursuit of change, one vote, one meeting, one march at a time.

Sign up

Get our email updates and stay connected.


Oakland Rising is a project from our hearts for the people of Oakland. Thank you for your contribution!