Building Future Leaders: GSO’s Fellowship ProgramMay 2, 2023
Each year, Golden State Opportunity sends hundreds of thousands of texts to Californians across the state. This year, GSO sent over 1 million texts prior to the April 18th tax deadline. But have you ever stopped to wonder, who sends these texts? Who’s responding on the other end of the line?
In GSO’s case, the answer is our fellows and volunteers who work alongside them to inform people about valuable tax credits and free tax preparation. The Fellowship program is an opportunity for aspiring leaders in nonprofit, anti-poverty, or advocacy work to gain critical organizing and leadership skills. Each year, GSO hires fellows for five months at a time to engage in organizing and managing texting campaigns about the CalEITC, Young Child Tax Credit, and free tax preparation. Fellows also work throughout the organization, based on their interests, including learning about policy work.
“I’m doing this fellowship with GSO because I believe in their mission of ending poverty,” said GSO Fellow Linda Garcia. “As someone who comes from a single parent low-income household. I know firsthand how hard it can be growing up in poverty. I know how much my mom could have benefited from the CalEITC.”
GSO fellows also benefit from career development opportunities. Throughout their fellowship, they get to have in-depth discussions with GSO staff members about career opportunities and more. For many, the fellowship isn’t just about developing their own careers. It’s also about helping their communities.
“I want to be able to end poverty in my community and this is one of the ways I’ve committed to doing so,” added Linda.
Annie Kastler, who oversees and manages the program, said the fellowship program is also about building the movement and supporting the fellows in entering the field.
“I see this program as GSO’s way of building strength in a movement to end poverty, we are developing and supporting organizing skills in people that have a passion and urgency for changing a system that perpetuates poverty,” said Kastler, GSO Distributed Organizing Manager.
By far though, Annie’s favorite part of the program has been seeing the Fellows develop in their careers.
“We want to empower people who have lived experience with these programs and have a passion for ending poverty. We want them to stay part of our network, of the movement, even after the Fellowship is over.”