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.
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. It maintains its office in Los Angeles, which handles California issues, and now has a separate, national office in Washington D.C.
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. 
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. 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.
Along with organizing race-based community events with companies like Bridge Street Inc., 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.
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:
- Foundation to Promote Open Society – $492,500
- Atlantic Philanthropies – $1,459,112
- Ford Foundation – $1,074100
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation – $1,000,000
- Steven English – $338,200
- California Wellness Foundation – $230,000
- David and Lucile Packard Foundation – $470,000
- Weingart Foundation – $305,000
- Achieving America Family Foundation – $361,170
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. 
In 2014, AP listed grants it made to other organizations. 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.
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. Williams has often made controversial remarks in support of the Black Lives Matter cause and against police, and his estranged wife has accused him of rage and parading women in front of his child.
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.
Martin Ludlow, owner of Bridge Street Inc., was paid $264,000 by AP in 2014.  Ludlow stepped down as the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in 2006 for violating city campaign laws. He was fined over $150,000 and avoided jail time by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.
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. In addition, Dianis serves on the board of directors for the environmentalist group Friends of the Earth.
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.
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. 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.