HEAL Food Alliance

School of Political Leadership

Be the leader your community needs you to be. Get started today.

Campaign, run, & represent

Lead on food & farm systems

Develop your policy campaign

The HEAL SCHOOL OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP (SoPL) is grounded in a vision and values of what we believe our food and farm systems should be. We believe our food and farm systems can prioritize: 
Community needs over corporate profits
Long-term environmental sustainability over short-sighted mass production
Safe and dignified working conditions that include living wages & democratic decision-making
Healthy, accessible, and affordable food for all people
"If we’re not prepared to govern, we’re not prepared to win.”
– Movement Generation

Our Elected Decision-Makers are Failing Our Communities

The systems that drive our current agri-food system, including labor laws, urban and regional planning, immigration policies, environmental regulations, and the rules that determine corporate control, are governed by decision-makers who rarely have our communities’ interests at heart. These systems were designed to value profit over people and our planet, and for too long, they have unduly burdened communities of color. HEAL’s School of Political Leadership trains leaders to challenge and change these systems - and the elected officials who uphold them - by building the skills of emerging leaders grounded in food and farming communities, and fighting for change.

The Time is Right

Today, market and political power is concentrated in the hands of a select few who are benefiting at the expense of the many. But across the country and beyond our borders, a surge of political energy is driving everyday people to take leadership in their communities. HEAL’s SoPL is committed to ensuring that this new political leadership is accountable to and representative of the communities that are most negatively burdened by our current food and farm systems, including Black, indigenous, immigrant, poor, working class and rural communities. We believe that by cultivating the political acumen of the HEAL community, we can develop governance that truly works by and for the people.

We Can Build Power to Transform the System

The HEAL SoPL will engage expert trainers to provide SoPL participants with the tools and technical assistance to drive the growth of grassroots political leadership.

Learning & Skill Building Objectives include:

Cultivating a shared analysis of the dominant political and economic system and identifying strategic levers for change
Understanding food and farm policies and related federal, state, and local legislative and electoral processes
Assessing organizational readiness for policy advocacy and individual readiness for electoral candidacy
Enhancing political skill sets and confidence to initiate strategic campaign initiatives, educate policymakers, and/or run grassroots candidates

How to Participate

SoPL seeks self-motivated and committed teams of 2-4 people who want to enhance their organizing, advocacy and political leadership skills to champion food and farm systems that are healthy, accessible and affordable to all communities; fair and dignified for the hard working people across the food chain; and that protect the air, water, and land we all depend on.
We are looking for participants who:
Are meaningfully involved in the workplace or community Have experience in community organizing or policy advocacy
Are interested in learning how to run for political office Can demonstrate their commitment to uplifting socially, politically and/or economically marginalized communities
Can bring together diverse groups to achieve a goal Have a desire to build effective teams or networks
Can articulate a personal political vision
Inspire others to take action!
Have a clear idea for a campaign that they want to win  
While the SoPL prioritizes applicant teams from HEAL’s organizational membership (with particular attention to candidates from frontline communities), we will also strongly consider applicant teams affiliated with a HEAL member organization. Space is limited to 4 teams.

The Details!

The Course 

HEAL's expert trainers will teach the cohort strategies and skills to winning electoral and policy campaigns, and will also include a community integration component with local organizing groups. Sessions will include but are not limited to: 
Power Analysis
Campaign Strategy Development
Communications & Messaging
Ethical & Accountable Leadership
HEAL's Platform for Real Food
In-person sessions will be designed based on the unique goals, needs and realities of participants. Each in-person session will be hosted by a team that is participating in SoPL. That team will be responsible for facilitating relevant site visits and meetings with local community organizers and leaders.

Throughout the course, team members will map institutional power systems in their own communities to assist in the development of their campaign plan. SoPL leaders will be expected to host events and conduct outreach to engage additional community members in support of their campaign objectives. Teams will also learn to cultivate relationships with local media outlets to achieve a media placement such as an op-ed, press conference, or other event. In addition to individualized support, SoPL will provide mini-grants to teams with clear campaign targets and supporting events.

Key Dates

August 9, 2019: SoPL Informational Webinar 
August 31, 2019: Application Deadline
September 9-13, 2019: Applicant Finalist Phone Interviews
September 25, 2019: Notification of Applicant Selection into 2019-2020 Cohort
September 30, 2019: Applicant Confirmation Deadline
October 22, 2019: Cohort Introductory Webinar
November 8-10, 2019: HEAL Welcome & Orientation In-person Session - California region / Location TBD after selection of teams
December 10, 2019: Webinar TBD based on team needs
January 30 - February 2, 2020: Power Analysis & Campaign Strategy In-person Session - Southwest region / Location TBD after selection of teams
March 3, 2020: Real Meals Campaign Webinar
March 26 - 29, 2020: Communications Strategy Development In-person Session - Southeast region / Location TBD after selection of teams
April 28, 2020: Webinar TBD based on team needs
June 4-7, 2020: Field & Base Building Strategy In-person Session - Midwest region / Location TBD after selection of teams

The Costs





The HEAL Food Alliance will cover the full cost of lodging, meals and training for participants. HEAL will also partially cover the costs for travel (air and ground transportation). Travel stipends will be determined on a per person basis. Any additional expenses incurred outside of lodging, meals, and the allotted travel stipend, will be the responsibility of the SoPL participant.


The 9-month long training program will take place October 2019 - June 2020. Teams must be available to attend the four in-person gatherings in various locations. The anticipated location regions are: California’s Central Valley, the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest. Each in-person session will run for three days over the weekend: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Individuals must receive permission from their respective organizations to attend all sessions in their entirety.

Apply  Now

Review the above program description and FAQ
Identify a team of 2-4 individuals from your community and a relevant policy or electoral campaign objective 
Receive an organizational letter of support 
* For applicants from HEAL Member Organizations: A letter of support from your organization is highly recommended but not mandatory
* For applicants from non-HEAL Member Organizations: Applicants are required to submit a letter of support from a participating HEAL member organization
Complete online application (1 per team)
Submit a cover letter or resume (1 per teammate)
Submit samples of relevant work (optional)
Attach a cover letter or resume for each teammate, organizational letter/s of support, and samples of relevant work (optional) with application and submit by or before Saturday, August 31, 2019
We will notify candidates  about their application status by Wednesday, September 25, 2019.  
Questions?! Reach out to info@HEALFoodAlliance.org


What if I’m not running for office?
The SoPL is designed for teams of 2-4 individuals who want to learn how to run for office and/or build skills to lead policy advocacy campaigns. We're committed to building leadership for the long haul, and we're not expecting that all participants will run in 2020.
What if I don’t meet all the criteria?
We're seeking leaders who are accountable to our communities and to the vision and values of HEAL, and we expect that you will be able to demonstrate this. One way to demonstrate your commitment is through a letter of support from a HEAL member organization. It's okay if you don't have all the skills yet to take political leadership - that's why SoPL exists. We'll look at your whole application, not just the checklist of criteria.
Can I participate in SoPL if I work full time?
Yes! The four (4) in-person SoPL sessions will be held on the weekends in November, January/February, March and June of 2019-2020. The four (4) online webinars will take place in between the in-person gatherings. Teams are expected to attend all in-person and online sessions.
How many people will be in the cohort?
The second year cohort will have a maximum of 4 teams, with a preference for frontline organizers, advocates and grassroots leaders who are part of a member organization of the HEAL Food Alliance.

We request that applicants from non-member organizations that are solidly aligned with HEAL’s vision, mission and Platform for Real Food submit a letter of support/recommendation from a HEAL membership organization. 
Will there be a waitlist?
Yes. Accepted participants will be expected to complete a contract of commitment to the SoPL within one week of notification of acceptance to the program. If accepted participants are unable to commit, they will forfeit their space for the next person on the waitlist.
Where will the SoPL be held?
There will be 4 in-person sessions that all participants are expected to attend. Locations will be determined based on the geographical representation of selected participants. Between in-person sessions, participants will meet online and by phone. Participants should anticipate completing approximately 10 hours of “homework” between each in-person session.
If I'm selected, where should I stay?
Upon completion of the candidate selection process, HEAL staff will be contacting the cohort about accommodations. More details will follow shortly.
How much does it cost?
HEAL will cover the cost for housing, meals, and tuition for all participants, and provide travel stipend on an as-needed basis to support air and ground transportation for in-person meetings. The travel award amount is determined on a per person basis. Note: SoPL costs HEAL about $12,000 per participant. We appreciate any help underwriting those costs! Support a real food future here! 
What should I wear?
Please dress comfortably for SoPL. We’ll have a range of activities and want you to be able to focus on making the most of your learning time together. The cohort will receive weather updates as we get closer to each in-person training session.