For the 501(c)(4), see Color of Change (Nonprofit)
The ColorOfChange.org Education Fund (CoCEF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Oakland, California. The CoCEF is a partner organization of ColorOfChange.org (Color of Change), a prominent, left-wing lobbying group for African-American interests. Since the Anthony “Van” Jones and James Rucker founded it in 2006, the Education Fund has primarily focused on financially supporting Color of Change and its campaigns for various causes. The organization has poured money into campaigns pushing for the transformation of police and criminal justice systems to fit left-wing principles and policies. It also finances efforts to maximize the number and influence of black voters.
The CoCEF has funded numerous attempts to pressure media organizations into cutting ties with reporters and show hosts whom Color of Change deems as racist. Major targets of such campaigns have mostly been right-leaning figures, such as Glenn Beck, Pat Robertson, and Lou Dobbs. Finally, the CoCEF made contributions in support of large demonstrations against Walmart and attacks on businesses that supported the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The CoCEF is nonpartisan for tax purposes. Most of the agendas it promotes are in line with the liberal left and the Democratic Party. At times, however, some of its attacks on right-leaning groups have proven too unreasonable for mainstream Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus.
The organization was founded in 2006, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Co-founders Van Jones and James Rucker created the ColorOfChange.org Education Fund alongside of Color of Change as an offshoot from the Citizen Engagement Laboratory (CEL), in response to what they perceived as neglect of black Americans by the George W. Bush administration in its relief and restoration efforts.
During the two years the Jones was with the two Color of Change organizations, CoCEF aided opposition to the execution of Kenneth Foster in Texas and the charges against the Jena Six in Louisiana. Alleging that Fox “race baits,” James Rucker and his two organizations worked to prevent any collaboration between the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and Fox News, particularly in the 2008 presidential debates. Jones and Rucker wasted no time in engineering collaboration with left-wing groups such as CEL and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), paving the way for the Color of Change groups to increase reliance on a network of left-wing foundations, unions, and activists.
Since Jones left in 2007, Color of Change has continued to attract attention for its activism on behalf of black progressives and the Left. Color of Change and the Education Fund have expressed support for both the Occupy Wall Street and the Black Lives Matter movements over the years. In 2011, Color of Change joined the Service International Employees Union (SEIU), the AFL-CIO, Common Cause, MoveOn.org, and People for the American Way—all prominent left-leaning groups—in denouncing the free-market American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Color of Change did not shy away from advocating positions more extreme than some Democrats would support. Under Jones and Rucker, Color of Change heavily pressured its members to vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race, while alienating those delegates who voted for Hillary. In 2011, Rucker and the organization scorned (African-American) U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-Illinois), protesting his candidacy for Ranking Member of the House Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee. Rush’s opposition to just one of six proposed “net neutrality” regulations was enough to merit Color of Change’s anger, leading to vocal criticism of Rucker.
The two Color of Change groups have also worked to oust major figures in the news media, who allegedly portrayed unsatisfactory images of African American politicians or people. After celebrating the ousting of Andrew Breitbart from his position at ABC News and Pat Robertson from MSNBC, Color of Change mounted a campaign in 2009 to have Fox news remove Glenn Beck for calling then-President Barack Obama a racist. The Color of Change groups also sought the ouster of nationalist commentator Lou Dobbs from CNN.
Color of Change and its Education Fund dedicate funds and influence to protesting certain statements or portrayals of black communities in hopes of producing a positive image of black Americans. Working together, the two organizations demand a higher level of power and influence for the national black community. Its 2015 IRS Form 990 communicates its intention as the broad desire to “act as a racial justice authority to the political left.”
Reported CoCEF-funded activities range from anti-voter ID law activism coordinated with the SEIU, to berating and ousting prominent media figures, to campaigns pushing for sweeping changes to prison systems across the country.
The ColorOfChange.org Education Fund is not required to list its funders, but major donors’ tax filings have provided some information. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation gave it $150,000 in 2014. The left-leaning Wallace Global Fund II donated up $70,000 in 2015. The pro-illegal immigration Unbound Philanthropy, which also supported the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center, contributed an undisclosed amount in 2016. Finally, the “anti-capitalist” Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave $250,000 to the ColorOfChange.org Education Fund in March 2016. The group has also received funding from foundations associated with liberal billionaire George Soros.
The Education Fund annually reports certain expenditures for specific campaigns run by its 501(c)(4) partner. In 2015, its reported disbursements included: $780,741 for changes in police and criminal justice systems, $570,036 to anti-ALEC, anti-business, and pro-net neutrality efforts, and $466,513 for pressuring Hollywood and the media to meet Color of Change’s agenda.
As recently as 2013, the CoCEF backed efforts to preserve the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality regulations, which restrict and control Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like AT&T or Verizon while aiding content hosts like Google and Facebook. ColorOfChange.org voiced its concern over the Verizon Communications v. FCC (2014) decision that dealt their net neutrality cause a couple of blows. ColorOfChange.org has continued to publicly call for net neutrality regulations to stay in place.
The CoCEF is a leading opponent of voter identification laws, claiming that such laws lead to discouraging “black, poor, and other underrepresented communities from voting.”
The Education Fund reported in 2014, that it gave money towards ending what it called “mass incarceration and unfair policing of Black communities.” Both Color of Change organizations support minimum wage hikes, a cause typically pushed by labor unions and related benefactors.
Behind his more recently-tempered public image, co-founder Van Jones has extremist roots and influences that, in part, explain the leanings of Color of Change and the Education Fund. Jones admitted in 2005, that he had been a communist and “rowdy nationalist,” referring to his participation in 1992 Rodney King protests as a Yale law school student.
In March 2009, the Obama administration appointed Jones as the “green jobs czar,” or Special Advisor for Green Jobs. Roughly six months later, Jones resigned from his post due to a highly publicized conflict over revelations of his background, which was too radical to be associated with the administration. The Washington Post noted: “His involvement with the now-defunct Bay Area radical group Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), which had Marxist roots, also emerged as an issue. And on Saturday, his advocacy on behalf of death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of fatally shooting a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, threatened to further deepen the controversy.” 
Most significantly, a 9/11 “Truther” petition website removed Jones’ name after it was revealed that he was an original signer in 2004, along with some prominent extremists including avowed anarchist and socialist writer, Howard Zinn.
Rucker is a co-founder and former president of the Color of Change groups, and is the Board Chair for CoCEF. In addition, Rucker helped start the Citizen Engagement Laboratory (CEL) in 2008, which builds on the work of Color of Change and helps to finance it. CEL can be described as an “incubator of nascent left-wing groups that it creates and assists to carry the radical [progressive] agenda forward,” even dabbling in causes such as anti-right-wing religious advocacy.”
Rucker came to Jones’s defense in 2009, when Jones’s 9/11 truther petition “caused an uproar within progressive circles.” Rucker downplayed the petition controversy and insinuated that the resignation was mostly because of “racially motivated agenda by conservatives.” He also served in the board of directors for Jones’s Dream Corps, an organization focused on agendas not unlike that of Color of Change.
For two years starting in 2003, Rucker worked as director of MoveOn.org’s grassroots mobilization. He continues to serve MoveOn.org Civic Action as one of its board members. Rucker is also on the board of the controversial left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
As head of the CoCEF board, Rucker received $4,800 in 2015, working an average of two hours a week.
Rashad Robinson is the current Executive Director of CoCEF, and he previously served as senior director of programs for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). In that position, he collaborated with Hollywood to influence Americans’ attitudes through entertainment. As head of both Color of Change organizations, Robinson has spearheaded anti-ALEC activism and smearing campaigns and publicly promoted his groups’ work. Robinson also coordinated activism against Republican Party Presidential nominee Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race. Other
Keith Goodman is Chief of Staff and Operations for the Color of Change groups. Goodman previously worked for the AFL-CIO, developing targeting strategies for the 2004 election; the Democratic National Committee; and the 2008 Presidential campaign of Barack Obama. He also worked from 2009 to 2011 for former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, which is now a part of the Climate Reality Project.