The Praxis Project



Oakland, CA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $4,502,395
Expenses: $3,374,550
Assets: $4,936,965


Xavier Morales




Nonprofit Advocacy and Incubator

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The Praxis Project is a left-of-center nonprofit organization that raises funds and provides strategic communications advice to advocacy groups, especially those focused on health care policy and racial minority communities. It is known for a series of lawsuits it has brought against Coca-Cola, arguing that the company targets minority communities and children with deceptive advertising.

“Structural” Approach to Health Policy

The Praxis Project pushes “structural” change to the nation’s health care system to address issues such as smoking and obesity, defining “health” broadly to include left-of-center racial-interest policies and economic inequality. 1 Its health projects are often undertaken with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which has given the Praxis Project more than $25 million since 2002. 2

In May 2002, RWJF established a national program office at the Praxis Project for Policy Advocacy on Tobacco and Health, a $3.8 million tobacco use prevention and cessation initiative focused on ethnic and racial minority communities. 3 Through 2006, the program provided funding and technical assistance to organizations to advocate for local bans on smoking in public places and in apartment buildings. By directing funding through other organizations, the Praxis Project was able “to pay for some activities, such as lobbying, that could not be supported with its RWJF grant.” 4

From 2005 to 2012, the Praxis Project received funding from RWJF for Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE), a program to address childhood obesity in minority communities. 5 Two major focuses of CCHE were so-called “food deserts,” or areas without easy access to grocery stores selling fresh food, and the lack of playgrounds and other recreational spaces for children in low-income communities. CCHE dispersed funding and technical assistance to local advocacy groups working on these issues. 6

The Praxis Project’s founder, Makani Themba, identified racism and underinvestment in minority neighborhoods as causes of food deserts and obesity. Themba argued that gentrification displaced minority residents in city neighborhoods, and “When we’re displaced, then the supermarkets come, and that’s how we know.” 7 Over the course of the project, RWJF gave the Praxis Project nearly $15 million to support CCHE. 8

Despite the closing of CCHE, the Praxis Project continues to advocate for “structural” solutions to childhood obesity. In 2019, in the 16th annual “State of Obesity” report from the Trust for America’s Health, executive director Xavier Morales was quoted on the need for “structural change” to address childhood obesity. 9

Lawsuits Against Coca-Cola

In 2017, along with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Praxis Project sued beverage company Coca-Cola and a trade organization, the American Beverage Association, in federal district court in California targeting the company’s products as a cause of obesity. 10 The lawsuit was patterned on suits brought against lead paint manufacturers in the 1980s and tobacco companies by state attorneys general in the 1990s. 11

Nonprofit Incubator

In 2018, the Praxis Project was one of four nonprofit organizations that received $13 million in funding from the California Wellness Foundation to create a new nonprofit to advocate for the implementation of Proposition 47, a California ballot initiative that recategorized dozens of felony offenses as misdemeanors and retroactively reduced prison sentences and increased opportunities for expungement. The money went to establish the Women Organizing Re-entry Communities of Color for Prop 47 (WORCC) Collaborative to focus post-prison re-entry resources on minority women. 12

The Praxis Project has also provided seed grant money and technical assistance to left-of-center advocacy groups such as Black Lives Matter, Push Back Network, Right to the City Alliance, and the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation. 13 In June 2015, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation gave the Praxis Project $30,000 to organize “the inaugural BlackLivesMatter Chapter Retreat.” 14

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Praxis Project helped form the Katrina Information Network with support from Tides Foundation and the 21st Century Foundation. The Katrina Information Network created a website to help families and friends locate missing loved ones and worked to organize advocacy groups working in New Orleans and the region after the storm. 15


The Praxis Project was founded by Makani Themba, who served as its first executive director. Themba is co-author of Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention, and was named one of “Ten Black Thinkers” by the NAACP. She is author of Making Policy, Making Change and Fair Game: A Strategy Guide for Racial Justice Communications in the Obama Era. She is currently chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies, a strategic communications firm in Jackson, Mississippi. 16

The current executive director is Xavier Morales, who holds a Ph.D. in public health form Cornell University. 17 Morales has been an advocate of higher taxes on alcohol, tobacco, processed snack foods, and soft drinks. 18


  1. Andrew M. Subica, Cheryl T. Grills, Jason A. Douglas, and Sandra Villanueva. “Communities of Color Creating Healthy Environments to Combat Childhood Obesity.” American Journal of Public Health. January 2016. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  2. “Grants.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Accessed April 20, 2020.
  3. “Our History.” The Praxis Project. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  4. “Policy Advocacy on Tobacco and Health.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. January 12, 2009. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  5. “Our History.” The Praxis Project. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  6. Andrew M. Subica, Cheryl T. Grills, Jason A. Douglas, and Sandra Villanueva. “Communities of Color Creating Healthy Environments to Combat Childhood Obesity.” American Journal of Public Health. January 2016. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  7. Savannah Harris Service. “Despite many past successes, Black women are still behind.” Chattanooga Courier. November 26, 2015. Accessed on Westlaw (2015 WLNR 35107036) on April 22, 2020.
  8. “Grants.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Accessed April 20, 2020.
  9. Susan Perry. “Minnesota’s adult obesity rate is 30.1%, up from 28.4%.” Minnesota Free Press. September 12, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  10. Russell Grantham. “Lawsuit alleges Coca-Cola covered up soft drink health threats.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jan. 4, 2017. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  11. “BigBev = Next BigTobacco (investors beware).” Law and More Blog. January 30, 2017. Accessed April 20, 2020.
  12. “Cal Wellness Invests $13 Million to Meet Health Needs of Women of Color.” California Wellness Foundation. April 17, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  13. “Our History.”” The Praxis Project. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  14. “Grants.” W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  15. “Our History.” The Praxis Project. Accessed April 22, 2020.
  16. “Our Leadership.” Higher Ground Change Strategies. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  17. “Our Staff.” The Praxis Project. Accessed April 20, 2020.
  18. “Spotlight on Six Taxes: Xavier Morales.” The National Academies. Dec. 7, 2017. Accessed April 20, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Alex Tom
    Board Member
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2002

  • 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 $4,502,395 $3,374,550 $4,936,965 $160,089 N $4,499,950 $0 $2,445 $125,753 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $5,061,614 $2,624,137 $3,730,146 $82,298 N $5,039,371 $19,645 $2,598 $204,565 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $3,277,008 $3,328,282 $1,256,414 $45,510 N $2,953,553 $320,873 $2,582 $230,990 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $2,601,689 $2,200,372 $1,308,328 $46,150 N $2,297,312 $303,549 $828 $236,622 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,175,451 $1,710,583 $894,416 $33,555 N $2,162,026 $12,741 $684 $109,500 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,540,106 $1,747,854 $455,444 $59,451 N $1,538,922 $0 $1,184 $109,000 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,804,436 $1,532,866 $620,679 $16,938 N $1,802,690 $0 $1,746 $183,366 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    The Praxis Project

    PO Box 7259
    Oakland, CA