California Calls is a left-of-center nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California, which advocates for state-wide tax increases and runs voter outreach campaigns to that end. Notable pieces of legislation facilitated by the group include Proposition 25, a 2010 measure that overturned a supermajority requirement to pass a state budget, and Proposition 30, a 2012 measure to raise income and sales taxes.
California Calls is a member of the State Power Caucus, a radical-left influenced coalition of state-level left-progressive advocacy groups.  The group’s lobbying affiliate is the California Calls Action Fund.
Background and Activities
In November 2004, the California Alliance (now known as California Calls) was established in Los Angeles, California. Two years later, the organization began a training program for its members, which taught them how to conduct voter registration initiatives. Additionally, the organization published a report, “The History of Tax and Fiscal Policy,” which details the history of legislative and political campaigns attempting to institute various statewide taxes in California since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. Prop 13 (officially known as “The People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation”) was an amendment to the California Constitution that decreased property taxes and instituted a requirement of a two-thirds majority from both the lower and upper houses of the California legislature to increase any state taxes. 
In California Calls’ report, which contained a negative assessment of Prop 13, the organization laid out its argument for higher taxes and various strategies to secure them. To that end, the organization later conducted research into the social values of Californians and the difficulties involved in political organizing. The products of that research were two documents: a “Social Values Organizing Manual,” published in 2008, and the “California Roadmap for a Tax and Fiscal Majority: A Values-based Approach,” published in 2010. Both of these documents are still used to inform the strategy and goals of the organization. 
In 2009, the organization extended its outreach efforts to residents in Alameda, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties with “predictive dialer telephone outreach.” That is, the organization relied on software that automatically dialed numbers from a list, while taking into account factors such as busy signals and the presence of voicemail. In the following year, the organization expanded its voter outreach campaigns even further to include Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. In 2011, the California Calls Action Fund, the 501(c)(4) sister organization to California Calls, advocated heavily for Proposition 25, an amendment to the California Constitution to overturn a requirement that a two-thirds majority in the California state legislature enact a budget.  Additionally, the proposition requires state legislators to forfeit their salaries in years when a budget is not passed. 
At this juncture in its history, during 2011, the organization officially rebranded itself as “California Calls,” and started advocating aggressively for yet more taxes on Californians. In the following year, the California Calls Action Fund advocated in support of Proposition 30, a ballot measure that over a period of seven years increased personal income taxes for California residents making over $250,000 annually. Additionally, the measure raised the California sales tax by 0.25 percent over four years. In 2013, the organization launched a research initiative into the possibility of further raising California state revenues from new or increased commercial property taxes. 
In September 2014, California Calls was registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization under the name “California Calls Education Fund.” 
Anthony Thigpenn, Founder and President
Anthony Thigpenn is the founder and president of Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), formerly known as AGENDA (Action for Grassroots Empowerment and Neighborhood Development Alternatives), a left-progressive organization based in South Los Angeles, which engages in political organizing in support of welfare programs and pro-labor union policies.  Prior to founding SCOPE, Thigpenn was the Executive Director of Los Angeles Jobs with Peace, a defunct left-wing labor organization, as well as the Executive Director of the Unity Workshop, a defunct community self-help group, which organized food cooperatives and ran a summer camp.  Thigpenn has also run field campaigns for California Democratic politicians including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, U.S. Representative Karen Bass (D-CA), State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), and former City Councilmember Martin Ludlow. 
Sabrina Smith, Deputy Director
Prior to her role at California Calls, Sabrina Smith worked with Thigpenn at SCOPE as the organization’s Organizing Director. In 2005, Smith was the Director of the West Side regional field program for Mayor Villaraigosa’s mayoral campaign. 
Veronica Carrizales, Policy and Campaign Director
Veronica Carrizales was a labor specialist at the University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center. Carrizales has also worked as an organizer with left-progressive groups including the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Santa Monica Living Wage campaign. 
Michele Prichard, Senior Advisor
Michelle Prichard was formerly the director of Common Agenda at the left-progressive environmentalist funder Liberty Hill Foundation in Los Angeles and sits on the Board of Directors of Venice Community Housing. Prichard also sits on the steering committee of GREEN LA, another progressive environmentalist group, as well as on the board of the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, a nonprofit focused on mitigating the environmental and quality-of-life effects of port-related economic activity in the communities of Wilmington and San Pedro.  Other progressive nonprofit boards that Prichard has sat on in the past include the California Health and Environmental Funders Network, LA Urban Funders, the Southern California Association for Philanthropy, the Funding Exchange, and the Working Group on Labor and Community. 
James Woodson, Policy and Strategic Projects Manager
James Woodson is a member of the California Secretary of State’s VCA (Voter Choice Act) task force, which reviews and informally advises on elections in California, and the Voter’s Choice Los Angeles Steering Committee.  Prior to working with California Calls, Woodson was the Director of Programs for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, New Jersey, and was the Founding Directors of the Friendship Development Corporation based in Baltimore, Maryland, which operated an outreach center providing food and clothing to poor families in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. 
The majority of California Calls activities are carried out by the California Calls Education Fund, which is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its advocacy efforts for and against specific pieces of legislation are carried out by the California Calls Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) lobbying and political advocacy organization. On California Calls’ website, the donation page for the organization notes, “California Calls Education Fund is a Project of SCOPE.”  SCOPE, which stands for “Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education,” and which was formerly known as AGENDA (Action for Grassroots Empowerment and Neighborhood Development Alternatives), was founded by Anthony Thigpenn, who remains its president. For the most part, SCOPE engages in progressive political organizing to build support for more expensive and expansive welfare programs and pro-labor union policy in California. Notably, though they share a general political alignment, president, and founder, the California Calls Education Fund and SCOPE are registered as separate 501(c)(3) organizations.
Finances and Funding
According to the California Calls Education Fund’s tax filings with the IRS, from 2015 through 2017, 100% of the organization’s revenue came from donor contributions, ranging from $2,906,389 to $6,182,221 per year with total spending on executive compensation as a percent of annual expenses ranging from 2.1 to 16.1 percent. 
Funders of California Calls, through the California Calls Education Fund, include a variety of left-of-center philanthropic foundations, including the California Endowment, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the James Irvine Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, the McGrath Abrams Family Foundation, New World Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, Solidago Foundation, the Streisand Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program at Shelter Rock, Panta Rhea, Akonadi Foundation, Gerbode Foundation, New Venture Fund, California Wellness Foundation, and California Community Foundation.