Course Descriptions

Community Planning Program

Check out a full description of the Community Planning program at LA Trade Tech, including courses toward a degree or certificate.  Courses include organizing, fundraising, media, housing development and political education skills.


Basic Level Courses in the Los Angeles Community Organizing Academy

History of Community Development in Los Angeles

Students review the diverse history of development of Los Angeles from early settlements (and displacement of indigenous people) to the rise of industrialization, neighborhood development, demographic transitions and the intersection between race, class, politics and power. Students gain a critical analysis of how low-income communities of color developed as a result of economic disinvestment, deindustrialization, segregation, housing discrimination, immigration patterns and local, state and federal policy.

History of Social Justice Movement Theory, Ideology and Practice in America

Students examine basic theory and ideological influences for organizing in Los Angeles, including Communism, Marxism, the influence of ethnic power movements, labor organizing models and power theory. Students learn theories and key lessons from these organizing experiences and successes and work with local grassroots organizations to research and trace their theoretical and ideological influences.

Introduction to Community Organizing

Students learn basic skills needed in community organizing, including how to build power through mass based organizations. Students learn about the components and tools for successful organizing such as how to build lists, do door knocking, engage in one-on-one conversations, share personal stories, build relationships and use the science of numbers. They explore previous successful organizing campaigns as examples of effective organizing efforts.

Sustaining the Self as an Organizer

Students consider the importance of self-reflection, self-identity and understanding of group dynamics as key elements in becoming an effective organizer. Students explore methods of creating balance in their own lives to be more impactful in their community organizing work, including reflection, meditation, understanding the significance and role of their own stories, creating self-development plans, creating affinity spaces and learning nonviolent communication.

Organizing Project Practicum

Students gain basic tools for program and project planning, including creating strategy, goals and objectives as well as creating personal and teamwork plans. Students use these tools in organizing and for evaluating their work as organizers.

Intermediate Courses

Elections, Community Power, and Systems Reform in Community Development

Students learn about local and national efforts focused on elections and systems reform for social change. This includes evaluating the strengths and challenges of grassroots voter registration, voter education and electoral campaigns, and the role of movements in bringing about social change and broad systems reform.

International Models of Community Organizing

Students consider approaches to organizing that have been especially important in other countries, including experience with popular education, participatory research and various movement-building and broad-based campaign strategies. Students learn about the connection between local and international organizing.

Strategic Media and Communication for Organizing

Students examine effective media strategies for community organizing campaigns, effective messaging that reflects the values and goals of the community and how to use tools such as social media, self-generated radio and press events.

Sustaining Social Justice Campaign Victories and Organizations

Students explore models for sustaining a social justice organization including evaluating nonprofit organizations and their missions, combining organizing with the operation of social services and/or community development programs, and social entrepreneurship and self-help models to support community revitalization and empowerment.


Students work in teams in existing organizing campaigns. They gain hands-on experience in the field of organizing by completing a project for a local organization.

Professional Development in the Economic Sector