Gamaliel Foundation

Gamaliel Foundation

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Gamaliel Foundation provides training and consultation and develops national strategy for its affiliated congregation-based community organizations. As of 2008, Gamaliel has 60 affiliates in 21 U.S. states, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and five provinces of South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and claims to represent over a million people.


The Gamaliel Foundation was founded in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 in 1968 to assist the Contract Buyers League, which worked to assist African-American home buyers in the city’s West Side. Gamaliel was reoriented to focus on community organizing
Community organizing
Community organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest. A core goal of community organizing is to generate durable power for an organization representing the community, allowing it to influence...

 when Gregory Galluzzo was hired as executive director in 1986. Seeing its basic function as training and developing leaders in low-income communities, Gamaliel’s goal is “to assist local community leaders to create, maintain and expand independent, grassroots, and powerful faith-based community organizations” that have the power to influence political and economic decisions that impact cities and regions. The name “Gamaliel
Gamaliel the Elder , or Rabban Gamaliel I , was a leading authority in the Sanhedrin in the mid 1st century CE. He was the grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder, and died twenty years before the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem...

” refers to the Biblical wise man who was a teacher to St. Paul (see Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 5:38-39; and Acts 22:3), whom Saul Alinsky
Saul Alinsky
Saul David Alinsky was a Jewish American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing, and has been compared in Playboy magazine to Thomas Paine as being "one of the great American leaders of the nonsocialist left." He is often noted...

 considered to be the first great congregation-based organizer.

Gamaliel Foundation works in the community organizing tradition of Alinsky, who began his work in Chicago with the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council in 1939. Following Alinsky’s death in 1972, his Industrial Areas Foundation
Industrial Areas Foundation
The Industrial Areas Foundation is a national community organizing network established in 1940 by Saul Alinsky. IAF provides training and consultation, furnishes organizers, and develops national strategy for its affiliated broad-based community organizations. There are currently 57 IAF...

, under executive director Edward T. Chambers
Edward T. Chambers
Edward T. Chambers has been the Executive Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation since 1972, a community organizing group founded by Saul Alinsky. He is the author of Roots for Radicals: Organizing for Power, Action, and Justice Edward T. Chambers has been the Executive Director of the...

, moved toward a congregation-based organizing model, emphasizing training and leadership development. Gamaliel has developed along a similar path under the direction of Galluzzo, a former Roman Catholic priest who got his introduction to community organizing in the early 1970s in Chicago, where he worked with the Pilsen Neighborhood Community Council, mentored by such organizers as Tom Gaudette
Tom Gaudette
Thomas A. "Tom" Gaudette was a community organizer who worked in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. Originally a businessman, Gaudette became interested in neighborhood organizing through his Catholic Church activism...

 and John Baumann (the founder of PICO National Network
PICO National Network
PICO National Network provides training and consultation and develops national strategy for its affiliated congregation-based community organizations. As of 2007 PICO had 53 local and regional affiliates, representing 150 cities in 17 states, with 1000 member institutions claiming to represent a...



Gamaliel’s board of directors has 15 members, and is the ultimate governing authority for the organization, setting policy and overseeing management. The board and staff are advised by the National Clergy Caucus, the African American Leadership Commission, and the International Leadership Assembly. Gamaliel operates with a small staff (approximately 20 in 2008), supplemented by interns and consultants. For example, during the period Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 worked as a community organizer with the Developing Communities Project on the far South Side
South Side (Chicago)
The South Side is a major part of the City of Chicago, which is located in Cook County, Illinois, United States. Much of it has evolved from the city's incorporation of independent townships, such as Hyde Park Township which voted along with several other townships to be annexed in the June 29,...

 of Chicago (1985-1988), he was also a consultant and trainer for the Gamaliel Foundation. Gamaliel has five regional directors covering the Eastern, Mideastern, Midwestern, Southern, and Western United States. Affiliated organizations are incorporated separately, raise their own funds, and employ their own organizers. Ana Garcia Ashley became the executive director of Gamaliel in January 2011.

Current program

Gamaliel has refocused its efforts from neighborhood organizations to coalitions that can influence wider metropolitan areas and regions. Gamaliel has begun to formulate strategies for impacting national policy on such issues as comprehensive immigration reform
Immigration reform
Immigration reform is a term used in political discussion regarding changes to current immigration policy of a country. In its strict definition, "reform " means to change into an improved form or condition, by amending or removing faults or abuses....

, health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

 for all, jobs and full employment
Full employment
In macroeconomics, full employment is a condition of the national economy, where all or nearly all persons willing and able to work at the prevailing wages and working conditions are able to do so....

, affordable housing
Affordable housing
Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed "affordable" to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the...

, and equal access public transportation systems. To date, the major focus of Gamaliel has been such metropolitan areas as Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Northwest Indiana
Northwest Indiana
Northwest Indiana, also known as the South Shore and The Calumet Region or simply The Region, comprises Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties in Indiana. This region neighbors Lake Michigan and is part of the Chicago metropolitan area...

, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

. Gamaliel’s long-range plan is to build a metropolitan organization in every major population area in the United States over the next ten years, including raising the necessary money and recruiting the 200 professional organizers essential to reach this goal.


Gamaliel conducts one-week national leadership trainings three times a year in the United States and once a year in South Africa. A three-day advanced training is held annually for leaders who have attended the seven-day national training. A three-day pastors training is offered for leaders who pastor churches. Each December Gamaliel holds a three-day staff training retreat for all the organizers in its network. Gamaliel also conducts numerous half-day, full-day, and weekend trainings for local communities. Ntosake (“she who walks with lions and carries her own things”) is a year-long Gamaliel women’s empowerment and leadership development program.

Themes of Gamaliel trainings include such topics as "the world as it is" versus "the world as it should be," engaging the public arena, principles of congregation-based community organizing, power, self-interest, "one-on-one" relational meeting
Relational meeting
The relational meeting is a primary organizing tool used by the Industrial Areas Foundation and other congregation-based community organizing groups including Gamaliel Foundation and PICO National Network – and also often in union organizing...

s as a building block of organizing, agitation, metropolitan organizing, and building and sustaining an organization.