School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL)




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $360,716
Expenses: $235,073
Assets: $302,691

Executive Director:

Angelique Gonzales




Far-left activist training group

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The School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) is a radical-left activist training organization based in Oakland, California. SOUL primarily provides consulting services including training on fundraising, political campaigning, grassroots activism, and protesting to other radical-left organizations which advocate for socialism and “liberation” ideologies. The organization also teaches workshops that provide left-wing views of American history in elementary and high schools. 1 SOUL has trained personnel at Let’s Get Free, St. Peter’s Housing Committee,2 the Center for Young Women’s Development,3 and Community Vision CA. 4

Alicia Garza, a self-described Marxist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, interned at SOUL in 2003, where she studied Marxism and learned grassroots organizing techniques. Through the internship, she found a job at Just Cause Oakland and launched her activist career. Garza now sits on SOUL’s board. 56

SOUL has worked closely with the left-wing activism organization Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM). 7 SOUL co-founder and former co-director Harmony Goldberg is also a STORM member. 8

SOUL appears to have done little over the past few years. Its website has removed nearly all information about its programs and staff members. 9

History and Leadership

In 1996, SOUL was founded as a get-out-the-vote campaign against California Proposition 209, which eventually passed and banned the use of affirmative action in state government hiring and university admissions. Co-founders Harmony Goldberg and Rona Fernandez met while attending the University of California, Berkeley, and wanted to join an activist training organization, but claimed that the available options were “older” and “whiter” than they preferred. 10

Goldberg and Fernandez based their training system on far-left revolutionary organizations in South Africa, Cuba, China, and Chile. The founders took inspiration especially from Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci, who believed intellectuals should “liberate” the working class to overthrow capitalism. They also took inspiration from the Highland Research and Education Center in Tennessee. Goldberg has maintained that the organization is not Marxist, Leninist, Maoist, or Trotskyite, but has admitted that it is “nonsectarian” revolutionary socialist. 11

In 2004, Goldberg was a guest lecturer at the Marxist School of Sacramento. 12 Goldberg worked as co-director of SOUL after its founding but eventually left to work as the director of praxis at the Grassroots Policy Project. 13

Ingrid Benedict is also a former co-director of SOUL. She is currently the director of the Daphne Foundation, and formerly worked for left-of-center organizations including Fulfilling the Dream Fund, Communities for Public Education Reform, and the California Fund for Youth Organizing. Benedict co-founded New York Blacks in Philanthropy. 14

Paige Kumm is the lead trainer at SOUL. She was formerly an organizer at Causa Justa Just Cause, and she was a founder of the Stanford Immigrant Rights Project. 15


The School of Unity and Liberation started as a fiscally sponsored project of the Youth Empowerment Center, a nonprofit run by Harmony Goldberg. The organization raised $1.4 million in 2000 and 2001 for SOUL. 16 In 2004, SOUL became an independent organization. 17 Goldberg has said there was “tension” in SOUL for financing its operations through capitalist donations and structures, like corporations. 18

Soul also received early funding from the Tides Foundation, Resist Inc., the Active Element Foundation, the Zellerbach Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Vanguard Public Foundation. 19

SOUL refuses to take money from the government. 20

SOUL also raises funds through its consulting services. In 2018, the organization earned $145,487 in program services, over 30% of its total revenue. 21


  1. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.   
  2. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.  
  3. “Julia (Guzman) Arroyo.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  4. “Courtney Gonzales.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  5. Kolhatkar, Sonali. “Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Alicia Garza on The Movement’s First 3 Years.” July 12, 2006. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  6. Wong, Julia Carrie. “The Bay Area Roots of Black Lives Matter.” SF Weekly. November 11, 2015. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  7. “Revised Repost: Revolutionaries in High Places, Van Jones.” Machete 408. January 25, 2011. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  8. “CPE Programming History.” Center for Political Education. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  9. “School of Unity and Liberation.” School of Liberty and Liberation. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  10. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.
  11. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.
  12. “All Speakers.” The Marxist School of Sacramento. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  13. “Who We Are.” Grassroots Policy Project. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  14. “Ingrid Benedict.” North Star Fund. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  15. “Paige Kumm.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  16. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.
  17. “School of Unity and Liberation Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed February 23, 2021.
  18. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.
  19. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.
  20. SF Weekly Staff. “SOUL Trainers.” SF Weekly, October 16, 2002.
  21. “School of Unity and Liberation Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed February 23, 2021.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2000

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $360,716 $235,073 $302,691 $10,718 N $200,949 $159,570 $168 $61,026
    2015 Dec Form 990EZ $162,419 $370,135 $317,895 $12,485 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $660,237 $352,797 $526,720 $13,594 N $561,972 $98,102 $163 $55,071 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990EZ $110,304 $374,856 $217,968 $12,282 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $392,646 $293,650 $490,025 $19,787 N $335,520 $56,733 $393 $54,437 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $453,049 $286,862 $385,845 $14,603 N $415,470 $36,946 $633 $54,119 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL)

    1714 FRANKLIN ST STE 100 # 280
    OAKLAND, CA 94612-3409