Advancement Project

This is a logo for Advancement Project. (link)


Tax ID:


DUNS Number:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2016):

Revenue: $11,829,993
Expenses: $11,346,188
Assets: $13,151,567




Stephen English

Molly Munger

Constance Rice

Penda Hair

The Advancement Project (AP) was established in 1999 by a group of civil rights lawyers as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit organization. While its stated objective is to address race and civil rights issues through the legal system and community activism, AP is in fact a key left-wing agitation group that organizes opposition to voter identification laws.2


AP was founded in 1999 after the lawyers Stephen English, Molly Munger, Constance Rice and Penda Hair won Godinez v. Davis, which redirected $1 billion of California education funds from low-density areas to Los Angeles and other urban areas.3 It maintains its office in Los Angeles, which handles California issues,4 and now has a separate, national office in Washington D.C.

Organizational Overview

AP describes itself as a civil rights law, policy and communications think tank. It wants to organize “communities of color” into politically active groups that work to dismantle what it sees as “structural barriers to inclusion;” namely: educational equity, health equity, equity in public funds and political voice. 5

It has become known for its opposition to voter I.D. laws,6 7 and has argued for the re-enfranchisement of felons with little to no restrictions.8

AP has worked on altering school discipline rules to address what it calls the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The goal is to reduce punishments for many infringements.9 This is only part of its education efforts as it funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to education-focused leftist organizations. The group was involved in protests that led to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos being physically barred from entering a Washington, D.C. school, supplying footage of the demonstration to The Washington Post.10

Along with organizing race-based community events with companies like Bridge Street Inc.,11 owned by the controversial former L.A. City Councilman Martin Ludlow (see Affiliations), AP is often at the forefront of organizing or publicizing anti-police protests like those in Ferguson, Missouri.12


Funding Received

AP does not disclose its donors on its website, listing only its 2012 form 990. The following funders have been identified using publicly available documents.

The organization’s 2010 return lists:13

The organization has received substantial contributions from groups associated with liberal billionaire George Soros. As of 2012, The Open Society Project had given $3,925,000 since 1999 and the Foundation to Promote Open Society had given $552,775 since 2009. 14

Democracy Alliance

Democracy Alliance is a collective of wealthy left-progressive donors that meet at semi-annual conferences for the purpose of providing a list of recommended recipients to major donors. The Advancement Project is on Democracy Alliance’s list; it is described as a group that provides innovative strategies for tackling racial, civil rights issues. 15

Grants Awarded

In 2014, AP listed grants it made to other organizations.16  All of them have a primary focus of leftist youth education except the Tides Center, a renowned liberal donor-advised fund, and One Voice, a race-based civic engagement organization.  The grants include:

  • Power U Center for Social Change – $26,986
  • Family & Friends of Louisiana – $26,986
  • Make the Road New York – $53,971
  • One Voice INC – $53,970
  • Padres Unidos – $53,971
  • Public Policy & Education Fund – $26,986
  • Tides Center – $26,986


Molly Munger, AP Co-Founder and President, is the daughter of Charles T. Munger, the billionaire business partner of Warren Buffet. She has often used her wealth to push liberal causes, including attempting to oppose the Proposition 30 state income tax hikes in California in 2012 which she thought were not liberal enough.17

Jesse Williams, AP Board Member, is a former actor turned African American rights activist who has been compared to singer-turned-longtime liberal activist Harry Belafonte.18 Williams has often made controversial remarks in support of the Black Lives Matter cause and against police,19 and his estranged wife has accused him of rage and parading women in front of his child.20

Harry Belafonte, AP Board Member, is an entertainer and longtime African American rights activist.

Arlene Holt Baker, an AP Board Member, was the vice chairwoman of the California Democratic Party until 1995 when she became the Executive Vice President of the labor union AFL-CIO.21

Martin Ludlow, owner of Bridge Street Inc., was paid $264,000 by AP in 2014. 22 Ludlow stepped down as the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in 2006 for violating city campaign laws.23 He was fined over $150,000 and avoided jail time by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.24

AP’s board of directors include the following individuals:

  • Bill Lann Lee, Esq. (Chairman)
  • Molly Munger, Esq. (Co-Founder and President)
  • Stephen R. English, Esq. (Co-Founder, Secretary and Treasurer)
  • Joe Alvarez
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Bonifacio Bonny Garcia, Esq.
  • Penda D. Hair, Esq. (Co-Founder and Co-Director)
  • Arlene Holt Baker
  • Gerry Hudson
  • Barrett S. Litt
  • Pam Martinez
  • Katherine Peck
  • Constance Rice (Founding Co-Director)
  • Sheila Thomas
  • Gerald Torres, Esq. (Board Chair)
  • Tom Unterman
  • Jesse Williams

Judith Browne Dianis is AP’s executive director. A lawyer, Dianis’ background is largely in anti-voter identification law activism, and in her professional biography on the group’s website she lists her “litigation efforts” against the Republican National Committee in Ohio in the 2004 election and in Virginia in the 2008 election. She is a founding employee of AP, joining the organization in 1999 after working in the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.25 In addition, Dianis serves on the board of directors for the environmentalist group Friends of the Earth.26

John Kim is the executive director of Advancement Project’s California chapter. Kim’s background is in social justice activism and ethnic minority associations, including a stint as executive director of the Korean Community Center of the East Bay in Oakland, California. He is an early member of AP, having joined the group in 2002; and he lists the Healthy City Project – a “data, research, and mapping support” project for activists in California – as his first major development with the organization. In 2008, he was appointed co-director of Advancement Project.27

Other staff with reported income on IRS form 990s:

  • Edward Hailes
  • Susan Lee
  • Sharon Dow
  • Giovanni Cozzarelli (chief financial officer)


Safe and Supportive Schools is a project created by AP to seek “comprehensive reform” on school discipline in New York by reducing school administrators’ ability to suspend students over what AP deems “minor infractions.” These infractions, AP claims, “disproportionately affect students of color.

The Raben Group, a left-leaning political consulting firm, was hired by AP in 2013 for $212,500.28 The Raben Group’s past client portfolio includes a number of left-wing organizations and issues, such as redefining pornography as free speech, assisting in gun control efforts led by Michael Bloomberg, and LGBT issues.

AP was an active participant in protests against Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos on February 10, 2017, an effort it publicized on social media.


  1. “Mission.” Advancement Project. Accessed August 21, 2017.

    AP has established itself in anti-voter I.D. activism having sued Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Michigan among other states over their anti-voter fraud laws. Along with civil rights litigation the organization is involved in community activism, race-based protests like those in Ferguson, MI, and early childhood and youth education efforts focusing on leftist political goals.1Reports, From Staff. “Police settle lawsuit over tear gas use during Ferguson protests.” March 26, 2015. Accessed January 05, 2018.

  2. “Stephen R. English, Esq.” Advancement Project. Accessed August 21, 2017.
  3. “Who We Are • Advancement Project California.” Advancement Project California. Accessed August 20, 2017.
  4. “Mission.” Advancement Project. Accessed August 21, 2017.
  5. Lachman, Samantha. “Supreme Court Won’t Consider Challenge To Wisconsin Voter ID Law.” The Huffington Post. March 23, 2015. Accessed August 21, 2017.
  6. Aymong, Maryalice. “‘Moral Mondays’ in North Carolina.” MSNBC. September 12, 2013. Accessed August 17, 2017.
  7. Dianis, Judith Browne. “A backward march on voting rights.” The Washington Post. September 16, 2016. Accessed August 16, 2017.
  8. Dianis, Judith Browne. “Ensuring Every Child Can Dream BIG!” Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track. Accessed August 21, 2017.
  9. “Group protests DeVos during D.C. school visit.” The Washington Post. February 10, 2017. Accessed September 05, 2017. 
  10. Advancement Project, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Part VII Section B.
  11. Rhodan, Maya. “Ferguson Activists Worry About Aftermath of Shooting.” Time. March 12, 2015. Accessed August 22, 2017.
  12. Advancement Project, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2010, Schedule B Part I.
  13. Staff, CRC. “Voter Fraud and the 2012 Election: The Advancement Project.” Capital Research Center. May 2, 2012. Accessed August 18, 2017.
  14. “Organizations Archive.” Democracy Alliance. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  15. Advancement Project, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Schedule I Part II.
  16. McDonald, Patrick Range, and Jill Stewart. “Molly Munger’s Prop. 38 Is Spoiling Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30. She’s Not Sorry.” L.A. Weekly. October 25, 2012. Accessed August 21, 2017.
  17. McDonald, Soraya Nadia. “Outspoken about Ferguson, Jesse Williams may be this generation’s Harry Belafonte.” The Washington Post. August 20, 2014. Accessed August 20, 2017.
  18. Lasher, Megan. “Jesse Williams BET Awards Speech: Full Transcript.” Time. June 27, 2016. Accessed August 20, 2017.
  19. Hitt, Caitlyn. “Jesse Williams’ estranged wife seeks full custody of two kids.” NY Daily News. August 15, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2017.
  20. Epstein, Edward. “State Demo Chief Quits for CNN Job.” SFGate. February 23, 1996. Accessed August 20, 2017.
  21. Advancement Project, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Part VII Section B.
  22. Orlov , Rick. “Labor chief steps down.” LA Daily News. February 22, 2006. Accessed August 20, 2017.
  23. McGreevy, Patrick . “Judge Sentences Ex-Councilman to 3 Years’ Probation.” Los Angeles Times. April 22, 2006. Accessed August 20, 2017.
  24. “Judith Browne Dianis.” Advancement Project. Accessed January 05, 2018.
  25. “Judith Browne Dianis joins Friends of the Earths Board of Directors • Friends of the Earth.” Friends of the Earth. Accessed January 05, 2018.
  26. Advancement Project California. Accessed January 05, 2018.
  27. Advancement Project, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Part VII Section B.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Molly Munger
    Co-Founder, Director
  2. Judith Browne Dianis
    Executive Director of the National Office at the Advancement Project
  3. Katherine Peck
    Board Member
  4. Marina Jenkins
    Former Fellow

Donor Organizations

  1. American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) (Labor Union)
  2. American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) (Labor Union)
  3. Annenberg Foundation (Non-profit)
  4. Atlantic Philanthropies (Non-profit)
  5. Mangrove Foundation (Non-profit)
  6. Bauman Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  7. Benjamin Fund (Non-profit)
  8. Buffett Early Childhood Fund (Non-profit)
  9. California Endowment (Non-profit)
  10. California Wellness Foundation (Non-profit)
  11. Cedar Tree Foundation (Non-profit)
  12. Craigslist Charitable Fund (Non-profit)
  13. David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Non-profit)
  14. Democracy Fund (Non-profit)
  15. Ford Foundation (Non-profit)
  16. Foundation to Promote Open Society (FPOS) (Non-profit)
  17. Heising-Simons Foundation (Non-profit)
  18. James Irvine Foundation (Non-profit)
  19. JEHT Foundation (Non-profit)
  20. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Non-profit)
  21. JPB Foundation (Non-profit)
  22. Katie McGrath and J. J. Abrams Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  23. Liberty Hill Foundation (Non-profit)
  24. Ms. Foundation for Women (Non-profit)
  25. Nathan Cummings Foundation (Non-profit)
  26. National Education Association (NEA) (Labor Union)
  27. NEO Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  28. New Venture Fund (NVF) (Non-profit)
  29. Open Society Foundations (Open Society Institute) (Non-profit)
  30. Proteus Fund (Non-profit)
  31. Public Welfare Foundation (Non-profit)
  32. S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation (Non-profit)
  33. San Francisco Foundation (Non-profit)
  34. Sixteen Thirty Fund (1630 Fund) (Non-profit)
  35. Stuart Foundation (Non-profit)
  36. United Steelworkers (USW) (Labor Union)
  37. W. K. Kellogg Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. Weingart Foundation (Non-profit)
  39. William B. Wiener Jr. Foundation (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 2001

  • 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
    2016 Dec Form 990 $11,829,993 $11,346,188 $13,151,567 $1,478,401 N $11,418,276 $321,572 $15,561 $867,792
    2015 Dec Form 990 $12,232,213 $11,916,647 $11,759,634 $798,824 N $11,059,569 $1,043,604 $20,448 $891,279 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $11,178,956 $12,036,320 $11,426,938 $649,873 N $9,516,539 $1,647,447 $14,970 $881,097 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $11,337,590 $12,484,067 $11,799,293 $381,862 N $8,800,537 $2,516,750 $20,303 $789,079 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $14,833,605 $10,567,405 $12,847,333 $463,315 Y $13,238,989 $1,568,415 $27,441 $756,988 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $8,061,915 $8,355,214 $8,529,131 $491,686 N $6,096,706 $1,971,243 $9,611 $580,875 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $12,376,023 $7,092,275 $8,748,289 $402,760 N $10,373,644 $1,994,107 $8,272 $527,544 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Advancement Project

    1910 W SUNSET BLVD STE 500
    LOS ANGELES, CA 90026-3291