Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco)




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $3,853,327
Expenses: $2,550,724
Assets: $2,995,094

Executive Director:

Shaw San Liu


Asian-American advocacy group



Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

Not to be confused with the Boston, Massachusetts-based organization of the same name.

The Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) is a San Francisco-based left-wing community organizing group focusing on the Chinese-American communities in the city. The group grew out of radical-left and pro-People’s Republic of China cadres; academic research has identified the group as historically aligned with the revolutionary Communist groups I Wor Kuen (IWK) and League of Revolutionary Struggle. 1 In the 21st century, the group has faced accusations of aligning with the People’s Republic of China government2 and has received favorable coverage from the Chinese Communist Party-affiliated news outlet China Daily. 3

San Francisco community activists, including some with Marxist or other revolutionary Communist sympathies, founded CPA in 1972. 4 In the 1970s, the CPA battled city authorities on wage and housing issues. In recent years, the CPA has focused more on political activism and community organizing. It has promoted Asian-American responsiveness to the 2020 Census and promoted forming a national alliance of Asian-American advocacy groups.

In 2018, CPA formed Black Futures Lab, a Black Lives Matter organization.


The Chinese Progressive Association was founded in San Francisco in 1972. The organization grew out of Legitimate Ways, a local group of Chinese citizens who tried to steer youth away from gang activity. Early members used grants from President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Program to open a pool hall for meetings. Many of the early members had ties to the Black Panther Party and were influenced by Maoism, a form of revolutionary Communism espoused by Mao Zedong, the founder and longtime dictator of the People’s Republic of China. Such members soon broke away and formed a local Red Guard modeled after the radical revolutionary youth groups of China’s Cultural Revolution. 5

The CPA evolved into an advocacy group for low-income Chinese Americans, particularly regarding wage and housing issues. Its most well-known activism involved the struggle over the San Francisco I-House. In the 1960s, the I-House was a popular low-income residency for primarily Filipino immigrants. Due to urban renewal initiatives, the city selected I-House for demolition and served eviction notices to its almost 200 inhabitants. The CPA worked with the tenants and other local groups to resist the evictions with protests and marches. In 1977, riot police were deployed to forcibly evict the remaining tenants. Soon after, the I-House was demolished. 6

Contemporary Activities

Census 2020

The Chinese Progressive Association is running a campaign to encourage Asian-American citizens to the 2020 census. In doing so, Asian-Americans will receive a larger portion of the $800 billion disbursed annually by federal programs. 7

San Francisco Rising Alliance

In 2009, the Chinese Progressive Association co-founded the San Francisco Rising Alliance, a coalition of left-wing racial- and social-policy groups in the city. The group runs get-out-the-vote and advocacy campaigns for low-income housing, increased social service spending, and other left-progressive goals. 8

Seeding Change

In 2014, the Chinese Progressive Association launched Seeding Change, an attempt to unify local Asian-American organizations across the country into a national movement. The program’s website contains no information on its size or number of member groups. 9

End National Security Scapegoating

While there are no known direct links between the Government of the People’s Republic of China or its ruling Communist Party,10 Chinese Progressive Association-San Francisco has taken public stances in alignment with Chinese interests. Along with other left-wing Asian-American advocacy groups, it formed the “End National Security Scapegoating (ENSS) coalition” that attacked investigations of alleged espionage on behalf of China as discriminatory. 11

CPA board of supervisors member Eric Mar has gone on trips sponsored by Hanban, an institution affiliated with the Chinese government. On these trips, he observed Chinese socialism and in 2006 wrote that he gained an understanding of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s goals for U.S.-Chinese relations. Critics argue that Mar’s characterization of the Chinese regime as one that fundamentally protects human rights with socialism contradicts what actually occurs in China based on well-documented evidence of the Chinese government’s violations of human rights. 12

Black Futures Lab

In 2018, the Chinese Progressive Association founded Black Futures Lab under the leadership of “trained Marxist”13 Black Lives Matter leader Alicia Garza. Black Futures Lab is a voter mobilization and advocacy group partnered with Color of Change, Demos, and the Tides Foundation. 14


The Chinese Progressive Association gives grants to left-of-center social justice advocacy groups and non-partisan community outreach centers. In 2018, the CPA gave $23,767 to Chinese for Affirmative Action, a pro-racial-preferences advocacy group; $15,000 to the People’s Action Institute, a left-wing advocacy group associated with Democracy Alliance; and $9,000 to the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. The CPA also donated to Khmer Girls in Action and the Korean Resource Center. 15


As a 501(c)(3), the Chinese Progressive Association is permitted to engage in some lobbying. From 2014-2018, the CPA spent almost $225,000 on lobbying. 16


  2. Gonzalez, Mike. “Fact-Checking New York Times Fact-Checker on BLM’s China Links.” The Daily Signal. Heritage Foundation, September 23, 2020.
  3. Zhu, Lia. “Growing Global Support for US Protests over Killing by Police.” China Daily, June 8, 2020.
  4. Gonzalez, Mike. “Fact-Checking New York Times Fact-Checker on BLM’s China Links.” The Daily Signal. Heritage Foundation, September 23, 2020.
  5. Tsukada, Kaori. “The Interaction Between Service and Organizing: Two Housing Campaigns By the Chinese Progressive Action.” Stanford University. May 26th, 2009. Accessed September 27, 2020.
  6. Tsukada, Kaori. “The Interaction Between Service and Organizing: Two Housing Campaigns By the Chinese Progressive Action.” Stanford University. May 26th, 2009. Accessed September 27, 2020.
  7. “Census 2020.” Chinese Progressive Association. Accessed September 27, 2020.
  8. “About.” San Francisco Rising. Accessed September 27, 2020.
  9. “Seeding Change.” Seeding Change. Accessed September 27, 2020.
  10. Roose, Kevin. “No, a Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Didn’t Partner With a Pro-Communist Chinese Group.” The New York Times. The New York Times, September 18, 2020.
  11. “End National Security Scapegoating.” Chinese for Affirmative Action, October 31, 2017.
  12. Gonzalez, Mike. “Yes, a Pro-China Group in America Supports a Black Lives Matter Founder,” October 21, 2020.
  13. Steinbuch, Yaron, “Black Lives Matter co-founder describes herself as ‘trained Marxist’,” New York Post, June 25, 2020. Accessed September 29, 2020.
  14. Rankin, Kenrya. “Alicia Garza Launches New Organization to Harness Black Power.” Color Lines. February 26, 2018. Accessed September 27, 2020.
  15. “Chinese Progressive Association Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed September 27, 2020.
  16. “Chinese Progressive Association Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed September 27, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Alex Tom
    Former Executive Director
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 1976

  • 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
    2017 Dec Form 990 $3,853,327 $2,550,724 $2,995,094 $252,017 N $3,455,068 $365,452 $89 $169,389
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,257,638 $1,818,727 $1,608,696 $168,222 N $1,840,662 $416,892 $84 $146,746
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,687,179 $1,153,889 $1,186,596 $185,033 N $1,371,023 $315,990 $166 $152,009 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,082,721 $932,413 $584,031 $115,758 N $847,671 $235,012 $38 $180,587 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $870,523 $951,845 $437,850 $119,885 N $684,840 $185,187 $118 $127,642 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $826,824 $922,535 $431,975 $32,688 N $575,602 $253,718 $834 $125,305 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $837,746 $1,009,539 $550,216 $55,218 N $464,103 $372,802 $841 $61,000 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco)

    1042 GRANT AVE STE 5
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94133-5025