Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $158,313
Expenses: $66,682
Assets: $91,831


2015 (Tax status 2017)


DeRay Mckesson and Brittany Packnett


Direct Action Group

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StayWoke (or Stay Woke) is a left-wing organization and digital accelerator that grew out of the Black Lives Matter campaigning and demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri after the police-involved shooting death of Michael Brown. The organization was founded and is led by left-wing activists involved in promoting protests against police, returning voting rights to released felons, and opposing the Trump administration.


The Black Lives Matter campaigners DeRay Mckesson and Brittany Packnett founded StayWoke as part of their campaign against police violence targeting African Americans. It quickly broadened its efforts to include the formation of Florida OurStates, in support of Florida Amerndment 4 that restored voting rights to felons who had completed their sentences. 1

Further, StayWoke was involved in the creation of an on-line tool to aid in a state-by-state opposition to the Trump administration, developed an on-line advocacy tool to identify government officials and their position on bills and influence them, circulated a “resistance manual” developed from crowdsourced information and tools to oppose the Trump administration, and devised an on-line application that identifies by city and community in real time all police activities. 2


DeRay Mckesson, co-founder and president, is a former teacher and one of the “most recognized and divisive figures” of the Ferguson protests post the death of Michael Brown. 3 He is a co-founder of Campaign Zero, a national campaign to end police violence, and We the Protesters, formerly the Ferguson Newsletter. 4

McKesson has been involved in a feud with Shaun King, an activist and journalist, over money allegedly stolen from Justice Together where McKesson was a board member. 5 He has been sued by Alton Sterling, a Baton Rouge police officer, who has accused Mckesson of being liable for negligently urging people to block the highway outside the city’s police headquarters and the ensuing injury of Sterling when attempting to arrest protestors; 6 McKesson has asserted that liability would infringe his First Amendment rights, a position being considered in the courts as of early 2020. 7

McKesson has been quoted as saying “The movement is rooted in protests” and “When the protests stop, we lose power”. 8

Brittany Packnett is cofounder of Staywoke and We the Protestors, creator of Love + Power, and a board member of a number of left-wing advocacy groups including Erase the Hate, National Voter Protection Action Fund, and Rise to Run, . She was named one of Time magazine’s 12 new faces of black leadership. 9 10

Samuel Sinyangwe, StayWoke’s treasurer, is a policy analyst and data scientist, co-founder of left-of-center Campaign Zero and Mapping Police Violence, a tool to identify police activity real-time. Sinyangwe works with minority communities fighting alleged systemic racism. 11 12

Staywoke shares common leadership with We The Protestors (formerly the Ferguson Protestor Newsletter) and Campaign Zero (which defined a set of proposals in response to Hillary Clinton’s challenge to Black Lives Matter for a specific agenda), both of which are radical left-wing organizations that help protestors identify and organize to fight police violence against African Americans and stop the Trump administration’s agenda. 13

Working with left-of center Rapid Resist, an organization that fights the Trump agenda via texting, it built a campaign to support Florida Amendment 4 to return voting rights to felons. 14


Staywoke received its 501(c)(4) tax status in 2017. Income for 2017 was $158,313 with expenses of $66,682, of which $63,409 went directly to advancing data collection, informing communities on elected officials, and promoting an initiative to gain the vote for felons. At year’s end, the group’s assets totaled $91,831. 15


  1. “Staywoke.” Staywoke. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  2. “Staywoke.” Staywoke. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  3. “About.” Staywoke. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  4. Eligon, John, and Timothy Williams. “The Lives of Ferguson Activists, Five Years Later.” The New York Times. The New York Times, August 9, 2019.
  5. Staff, NewsOne. “Fix It, Jesus: DeRay McKesson Reignites Feud With Shaun King: ‘I Tried To Engage Offline…’.” News One. News One, September 12, 2019.
  6. Drayton, Tiffanie. “DeRay Mckesson Calls out ‘Bully’ Shaun King in Receipt-Filled Blog Post.” The Daily Dot. The Daily Dot, September 13, 2019.
  7. Adler, Jonathan H. “Judge Willett’s Change of Heart.” Reason, December 17, 2019.
  8. Lowery, Wesley. “Ferguson Protest Leaders Eye next Phase.” The Washington Post. WP Company, December 22, 2014.
  9. “About.” Staywoke. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  10. “Black Lives Matter Publishes ‘Campaign Zero’ Plan To Reduce Police Violence.” NPR. NPR, August 26, 2015.
  11. “About.” Staywoke. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  12. “Sam Sinyangwe.” UW Graduate School. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  13. Lopez. “Campaign Zero: Black Lives Matter Activists’ New, Comprehensive Policy Platform, Explained.” Vox. Vox, August 21, 2015.
  14. “Restore The Vote.” Restore The Vote. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  15. Staywoke Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990-EZ) 2017, Part I Lines 9, 17, 21, Part III Line 28.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

Child Organizations

  1. OurStates (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2017

  • 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 990EZ $158,313 $66,682 $91,831 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0


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