Non-profit

Accountable Justice Action Fund

Website:

accountablejusticeaction.org/

Tax ID:

82-3247136

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $270,350
Expenses: $4,679,783
Assets: $2,130,983

Created:

2017

Project of:

Open Philanthropy Project

Type:

Criminal Justice Reform Organization

The Accountable Justice Action Fund (AJAF) is a left-of-center advocacy nonprofit created in 2017 by the Open Philanthropy Project as a separate vehicle for funding left-of-center criminal justice reform projects. AJAF was designed to allow “external donors” to fund criminal justice reform projects hand-picked by the fund’s treasurer, Chloe Cockburn. [1] Since its creation, AJAF has notably been the primary grantmaker to the Law & Justice PAC and the Texas Organizing Project.

Funding

The Accountable Justice Action Fund was created with seed funding from just two major sources. In 2017 and 2018 AJAF received $6.3 million from Open Philanthropy Action Fund, the 501(c)(4) advocacy wing of the Open Philanthropy Project, and $10 million from Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy, the 501(c)(4) advocacy fund of Mark Zuckerberg. [2] [3]

Grantmaking

Accountable Justice Action Fund’s grantmaking, by design, focuses exclusively on funding left-leaning criminal justice reform advocacy groups. In 2017, AJAF distributed $12.1 million in grants. [4] This included: [5]

AJAF’s 2018 grants included: [6]

 

Prosecutorial Reform Report

In November 2018, AJAF published the “Prosecutorial Reform in 2018” report which summarized the organization’s impact on criminal prosecution policy in the U.S. during 2018. The report claims that the “500% increase in U.S. prison and jail populations over the past several decades is due to prosecutors bringing more serious charges for the same behavior.” The report concludes that, since 91 percent of prosecutor election were uncontested in 2018, competition in district attorney elections was necessary to give “incentive for prosecutors to change policies to fit the evolving needs of their communities.” [7]

The report furthermore claims that the lack of competition in elections is the result of a lack of information and interest on the part of voters, and that it can be solved with funding from AJAF to local community groups. The report does not consider whether 91 percent of district attorney election were uncontested because voters were happy with their current county prosecutor and wanted minimal disruptions to their local systems of law and order. [8]

Leadership

The Accountable Justice Action Fund is led by a board of four directors.

Board president Rashad Robison is the president of Color of Change, a left-of-center nonprofit which has received substantial funding from AJAF. From 2002 to 2004, Robinson worked as the national field director for left-of-center voting reform group FairVote. From 2004 to 2005, Robinson was director of communications at the JEHT Foundation. From 2005 to 2011, Robinson was senior director of media programs at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). [9] In September 2020, Robinson was named one of 25 members of the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of left-leaning thought leaders who “formed a group to analyze and critique Facebook’s content moderation decisions, policies and other platform issues in the run-up to the presidential election and beyond.” [10]

Robison has also served on the board of several other left-leaning nonprofit organizations. Robison has been a board member of  the All Out Action Fund, a director at Demos, a board member of the National LBTQ Task Force, a board member of SIX Action, a director at State Voices, a board member of Race Forward, and a trustee of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]

AJAF board secretary Tim Silard is also the president of the Rosenberg Foundation He has worked as a Chief of Policy for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and as a director at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. [18] [19]

AJAF treasurer Chloe Cockburn is the program officer of criminal justice reform at the Open Philanthropy Project. [20] Cockburn develops the funding priorities that dictate the allocation of AJAF funds. AJAF was initially created because of donors interested in “providing some funding for Chloe to allocate.” [21] Cockburn received her JD from Harvard Law School in 2007, and has previously worked as an advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). [22]

AJAF board director Michael Kieschnick is the co-founder and president of the Green Advocacy Project, an environmentalist advocacy group previously known as the Big Organizing Action Fund. Kieschnick has also worked as the co-founder and CEO of CREDO Mobile, the 2016 national campaign manager at NextGen Climate, and the co-founder of the Real Justice PAC. [23]

Kieschnick also has a history of government work. Kieschnick served as the chief economic advisor to former California Governor Jerry Brown (D) from 1980 to 1983, and as a research economist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1978 to 1980. [24]

AJAF also has two senior staff members. AJAF director of partnerships Marisa Renee Lee has previously worked as a senior staff member for the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and the Small Business Administration during President Barack Obama’s administration. AJAF senior strategic advisor Chris Cormier Maggiano has previously worked for the Raben Group, the Gill Foundation, and has been a board member of  One Fair Wage Action.

 

References

  1. Karnofsky, Holden, and Russell Baldwin. “Update on Partnerships with External Donors.” Open Philanthropy, October 4, 2018. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/update-partnerships-external-donors. ^
  2. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Open Philanthropy Action Fund. 2017. Schedule I. See: https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/812644663_201712_990O_2018121716007913.pdf ^
  3. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy. 2017. Schedule I. See: https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/813742328_201712_990O_2019020116055200.pdf ^
  4. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Accountable Justice Action Fund. 2017. Part I. Line 13. See: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/823247136/08_2019_prefixes_82-83%2F823247136_201808_990O_2019082016582793 ^
  5. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Accountable Justice Action Fund. 2017. Schedule I. Part II. See: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/823247136/08_2019_prefixes_82-83%2F823247136_201808_990O_2019082016582793 ^
  6. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Accountable Justice Action Fund. 2018. Schedule I. Part II. See: https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/823247136_201908_990O_2020090917287284.pdf ^
  7. Accountable Justice Action Fund. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://accountablejusticeaction.org/. ^
  8. Accountable Justice Action Fund. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://accountablejusticeaction.org/. ^
  9. Robinson, Rashad. “LinkedIn Profile: Rashad Robinson.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rashadrobinson/. ^
  10. Solon, Olivia. “While Facebook Works to Create an Oversight Board, Industry Experts Formed Their Own.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, September 25, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/facebook-real-oversight-board-n1240958. ^
  11. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). All Out Action Fund Inc. 2017. Part VII. Line 3. See: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/452451509/201832709349300813/IRS990 ^
  12. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Demos A Network for Ideas and Action LTD. 2019. Part VII. See:

    https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/134105066/201943189349310844/IRS990 ^

  13. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). National LGBTQ Task Force. 2015. Part VII. See: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/521624852/201741319349301799/IRS990 ^
  14. [1] Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). SIX Action. 2018. Part VII. See: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/203169871/201913179349307071/IRS990 ^
  15. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). State Voices. 2015. Part VII. See: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/201115618/201643209349311924/IRS990 ^
  16. “Board.” Race Forward. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20150322081050/https://www.raceforward.org/about/board. ^
  17. “BOARD OF TRUSTEES: THE EDWARD W. HAZEN FOUNDATION.” THE EDWARD W HAZEN FOUNDATION BOARD OF TRUSTEES Comments. Accessed July 20, 2021. http://hazenfoundation.org/about-us/board-of-trustees/. ^
  18. Accountable Justice Action Fund. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://accountablejusticeaction.org/. ^
  19. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Sargent Shriver. 2018. Part VII. See: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/363151279/201901779349300720/IRS990 ^
  20. Accountable Justice Action Fund. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://accountablejusticeaction.org/. ^
  21. Karnofsky, Holden, and Russell Baldwin. “Update on Partnerships with External Donors.” Open Philanthropy, October 4, 2018. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/update-partnerships-external-donors. ^
  22. Cockburn, Chloe. “LinkedIn Profile: Chloe Cockburn.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloecockburn/. ^
  23. Kieschnick, Michael. “LinkedIn Profile: Michael Kieschnick.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-kieschnick-b554412/. ^
  24. Kieschnick, Michael. “LinkedIn Profile: Michael Kieschnick.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-kieschnick-b554412/. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: August - July
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2018

  • 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
    2019 Aug Form 990 $270,350 $4,679,783 $2,130,983 $1,985,696 N $200,000 $0 $70,350 $0 PDF
    2018 Aug Form 990 $17,129,344 $12,574,624 $4,573,963 $19,243 N $17,050,000 $0 $79,344 $0 PDF