HEAL Food Alliance

School of Political Leadership

Be the food and farm leader your community needs you to be.

Thinking about applying? Watch our informational webinar to get  details on the application process for this year's School of Political Leadership and hear from past SoPL participants about their experience in the program.




**Gracias por llenar la aplicación para la Escuela de Liderazgo Político (SoPL) de HEAL. Ofrecemos traducción e interpretación para ser consecuentes con nuestros valores. Si desea ayuda en Español para completar esta aplicación, favor de contactarnos a info@healfoodalliance.org**

**As part of HEAL’s commitment to language justice we look forward to expanding our language access. If you need translation assistance with this application please reach out to us at info@healfoodalliance.org** 
The HEAL SCHOOL OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP (SoPL) is grounded in a vision for food and farm systems that work for all communities. We believe our food and farm systems should prioritize: 
Community needs over corporate profits
Biodiversity and thriving ecosystems
Safe and dignified working conditions that include living wages & democratic decision-making
Healthy, accessible, and affordable food for all people
Are you interested in learning how to develop policy campaigns, organize in your community, lead in food and farm issues, and campaign, run & represent? SoPL may be for you! 

The Need.

Our Elected Decision-Makers are Failing Our Communities

For too long, the people who design and implement policy have prioritized profit over people and our planet. Labor laws that exclude farmworkers, immigration policies that separate families, the over-policing and under-resourcing of Black communities, agribusinesses subsidies that pollute air, water, and erode soil, and the rewriting of state constitutions to disempower communities protesting factory farms (CAFOs) are just some examples of decision-makers writing rules without our communities’ interests at heart. HEAL’s School of Political Leadership trains community members 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

Across the country and beyond our borders, a surge of political energy is driving everyday people to take leadership in their communities, to confront corporations and their political pawns that profit from mass destruction. Potential solutions and roadmaps that address climate change, support working class people, ensure healthy communities and more have taken hold in the mainstream, but driving them to policy and implementation will require the power and influence of the grassroots.

HEAL’s SoPL is committed to ensuring new political leadership that 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

Frontline communities must continue to create a system that works while adapting to the shifting landscape presented by a global pandemic, a climate crisis, and ongoing racial, economic and social injustice. HEAL’s SoPL will engage expert trainers to provide SoPL participants with the tools and technical assistance to drive the growth of grassroots political leadership. 

Through SoPL, participants gain:

A shared analysis of the dominant political and economic system and strategic levers for change
Power mapping and campaign planning skills
An understanding of food and farm policies and related federal, state, and local legislative and electoral processes
Communications, policy advocacy, community organizing and/or electoral candidacy skills
Enhanced confidence to initiate strategic campaigns, educate policymakers, organize within communities and/or run for office
Strengthened ability to respond and thrive in a rapidly changing social and political landscape
Relationships for increased community resilience


We are seeking self-motivated and committed teams of 2-4 individuals who want to enhance their advocacy, organizing 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.
While not a checklist of selection criteria, we are looking for participants who:
Are meaningfully involved in the workplace or community
Can bring together diverse groups to achieve a goal
Want to gain experience in community organizing or policy advocacy
Have a desire to build effective teams
Are interested in learning about what it takes to run for political office
Can articulate a personal political vision
Want to deepen networks with leaders across the country as they organize during a pandemic
Inspire others to take action
Are committed to uplifting socially, politically and/or economically marginalized communities
Have a clear idea for a campaign that they want to win
While 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. Please note that space is limited to 4 teams. 

The Details!


HEAL's expert trainers will teach the cohort strategies and skills to winning campaigns (policy advocacy, organizing and electoral), and will also include a community integration component driven by teams that are selected into the 2021 cohort. Sessions will include but are not limited to the following:
Power Analysis
Campaign Strategy Development
Field & Base Building
Communications & Messaging
Ethical & Accountable Leadership
HEAL's Platform for Real Food
Due to the pandemic, all sessions for the 2021 SoPL cohort will be virtual and designed based on the unique goals, needs and realities of participants. Each team participating in SoPL will “host” a session. That team will be responsible for curating relevant, place-based content (e.g. virtual 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 supported to virtually 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

Application Phase

Sept. 21, 2020: Applications  Open!
Oct. 6, 2020: SoPL informational webinar with details on the application process for this year's SoPL. WATCH NOW »
Nov. 15, 2020: Application Deadline 
Dec. 14, 2020: Notification of Applicant Selection
Dec. 18, 2020: Applicant Confirmation Deadline

Virtual Sessions

Jan. 28, 2020: Cohort Introductory Webinar
Feb. 24 & 25: HEAL Welcome & Orientation
March 24 & 25: Power Analysis & Campaign Strategy 
April 7 & 8: Field & Base Building Strategy
May 12 & 13: Communications Strategy 
June 9 & 10: SoPL Close & Celebration 




The HEAL Food Alliance will cover the full cost of all training sessions for participants. In addition, selected teams will have the opportunity to apply for a mini-grant of up to $2,500 to support their campaign plan.


The 6-month long, virtual training program will take place January - June 2021. Teams must be available to attend 1) all virtual gatherings and 2) monthly team meetings with HEAL staff and/or trainers. Participants will be expected to complete work with their teammates between sessions. SoPL is committed to supporting all teams with accessibility needs and we will do our best to accommodate family and community needs for all participants.

All team members are expected to be able to commit approximately 12 hours per month to their participation in SoPL and aligned campaign work. Each virtual session will run for 3 hours maximum, per day, over a 2 day period: Wednesday and Thursday for a total of 6 hours maximum per session. In addition, each team will schedule and participate in a monthly, 1 hour team meeting to ensure progress on their campaign development plan. Individuals must receive permission from their respective organizations to attend all sessions in their entirety.

Apply to SoPL

Is SoPL right for you? Take the steps below to apply to be part of this year's cohort! 
Review the above program description and FAQ below
Identify a team of 2-4 individuals from your community and a relevant policy/advocacy, organizing or electoral campaign objective
Receive an organizational letter of support
* For applicants that are based at organizations that are a part of HEAL, a letter of support is highly recommended but not mandatory
* Applicants from non-member organizations are required to submit a letter of support from a HEAL member organization they have worked alongside or are currently working with. Please see our list of member organizations here. If you need more info on how to connect with a HEAL member for SoPL support, please reach out to info@healfoodalliance.org
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 Sunday, November 15, 2020 at Midnight (PST).
We will notify candidates about their application status by Monday, December 14, 2020
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, organizing and electoral campaigns. We're committed to building leadership for the long haul, and we're not expecting that all participants will run in 2022.
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 that is familiar with your work. 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 six online SoPL sessions will be held over 2 weekdays per month during January - June of 2021. Monthly team calls will take place in between the online gatherings. Teams are expected to attend all virtual programming including sessions and team calls.
How many people will be in the cohort?
The 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 they have worked alongside or are currently working with.

Please see our list of member organizations here. If you need more info on how to connect with a HEAL member for SoPL support, please reach out to the contact information listed above.
Will there be a waitlist?
Yes. Accepted participants will be expected to complete a contract of commitment to SoPL within one week of notification of acceptance to the program. If accepted participants are unable to commit, they will forfeit their space to the next team on the waitlist.
Where will SoPL be held?
There will be 6 virtual sessions that all participants are expected to attend. SoPL will take place over video conferencing platforms such as Zoom. Between virtual sessions, participants will meet online and by phone. Participants should anticipate completing approximately 5-10 hours of “homework” between each virtual session. HEAL staff are committed to supporting all teams with accessibility needs.
If I'm selected, what will I need to participate?
Candidates will ideally secure stable internet access for all virtual sessions. We recommend requesting permission from your organization/employer to ensure your attendance during the session dates above as well as setting aside sufficient time for the monthly team calls and homework. HEAL staff will be contacting the cohort upon selection to confirm their connectivity and scheduling status and needs.
How much does it cost?
HEAL will cover the cost of tuition for all participants, and provide stipends on an as-needed basis to support accessibility needs for virtual sessions and meetings (e.g. wifi). The award amount is determined on a per person basis.
What should I wear?
Please dress comfortably for SoPL. While we’ll be a virtual program this year, we’ll have a range of activities and want you to be able to focus on making the most of your learning time together.
Where can I find out more?
Watch our informational webinar to get details on the application process for this year's School of Political Leadership and hear from past SoPL participants about their experience in the program. Watch now »