Forward Justice



Morrisville, NC

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $5,810,265
Expenses: $2,433,654
Assets: $7,408,511


Criminal justice advocacy group




Daryl Atkinson and Caitlin Swain

Budget (2022):

Revenue: $4,569,892
Expenses: $2,834,003
Net Assets: $8,971,499

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Forward Justice is a left-of-center criminal justice advocacy group that focuses on implementing left-of-center changes to the criminal justice system and voting laws in the southern United States. The group is headquartered in North Carolina and has sued the state, along with other southern states over a variety of issues including voting rights restoration for felons, increased reentry services for incarcerated persons, and other left-of-center policies regarding health care, minimum wage, housing, and policing. The group is funded by many left-of-center funding groups including the Ford Foundation, the Democracy for all Fund, and the Clean Slate Initiative. 1 2 3


Forward Justice was founded and secured tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service in 2018. The group describes itself as a nonpartisan “law and policy strategy center dedicated to advancing racial social and economic justice.” The group has heavily focused its efforts on advocacy and policy campaigns in North Carolina, assisting in a legal challenge to restore voting rights to over 56,000 convicted felons in the state. The group’s Unlock the Vote campaign seeks to restore voting access to convicted felons throughout the south. The group has also supported changes to the state’s congressional district maps, through its Protect Our Vote campaign, supporting a federal legal challenge by the North Carolina NAACP against the state legislature alleging an illegal racial gerrymander. 4

In 2020 the group formed a political advocacy arm, the Forward Justice Action Network to specifically support political efforts and voter outreach in North and South Carolina. 5

Support for Defunding Police

In 2020, Forward Justice issued a “Statement of Solidarity” utilizing far-left language and calling for the defunding and demilitarization of police across the United States. The group’s statement also decried the “400 years of oppression and state-sponsored violence that this country has waged against Black Americans” and further stated that “To be silent in this moment is to be complicit in the racialized killings of innocent Black Americans, often at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve them.” 6

Activity and Campaigns

In November 2020, Forward Justice launched, a website that “allows community members to access department & officer stop, search, and use of force data for every traffic stop reported in NC.” The group also stated that the website should be used and operate as an “advocacy tool for those seeking policy changes in law enforcement practices.” 7

Other campaigns led by the group include the Clean Slate Campaign to expunge and/or seal certain criminal records, the End Criminal Justice Debt Campaign, the Unlock Our Vote Campaign to allow convicted felons to vote, and the Protect Our Vote Campaign, which opposes photo id requirements for voting and Republican-led redistricting efforts. 8

The group also led a campaign during the COVID-19 outbreak to call for early releases for thousands of prisoners throughout North Carolina. 9


According to its 2023 Annual Report Forward Justice is funded by groups including the Ford Foundation, the Skyline Foundation, the Just Fund, Galaxy Gives, Democracy for All Fund, Z Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Clean Slate Initiative, Flow Strategy, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, the Florida Restoration Coalition, and the Racial Equity Institute. 10


  1. “2023 Annual Report.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  2. “About.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  3. “Resources.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  4. Return of an Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  5. Return of an Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  6. “Statement of Solidarity.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  7. “NC CopWatch Launch.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  8. “Campaigns.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  9. “Press.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
  10. “2023 Annual Report.” Forward Justice. Accessed May 12, 2024.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 2018

  • 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
    2021 Dec Form 990 $5,810,265 $2,433,654 $7,408,511 $188,920 N $5,496,125 $157,070 $0 $194,884
    2020 Dec Form 990 $4,585,533 $6,350,101 $3,434,220 $124,830 N $3,495,663 $1,088,353 $0 $199,022
    2018 Dec Form 990 $1,207,900 $1,447,426 $1,513,646 $2,635 N $1,193,258 $0 $0 $183,224 PDF
    2018 Jun Form 990 $2,590,098 $976,002 $1,755,188 $0 N $2,549,150 $0 $0 $192,000 PDF

    Forward Justice

    Morrisville, NC