The Praxis Project



Oakland, CA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $22,557,562
Expenses: $9,679,475
Assets: $24,229,401


Nonprofit Advocacy and Incubator




Xavier Morales

Budget (2022):

Revenue: $20,791,301
Expenses: $19,531,081
Assets: $25,584961 1


  1. The Praxis Project. Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. (Form 990 – Part I). 2022.

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The Praxis Project is a left-of-center organization that provides seed money, strategic support, and fiscal sponsorship to community-based advocacy groups, especially those focused on health care policy and racial minority communities. It has been funded by several large left-of-center donors including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation, and MacKenzie Scott.


The Praxis Project was founded by activist Makani Themba, who worked as its first executive director from 2002 until 2016. 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 $43 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

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 by encouraging community organizing and policy advocacy. 4 Over the course of the project, RWJF gave the Praxis Project nearly $15 million. 5  

In 2015, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation gave the Praxis Project $30,000 to organize “the inaugural BlackLivesMatter Chapter Retreat.” 6

In 2018, the Praxis Project was one of four nonprofit organizations that received a portion of a $13 million grant from the California Wellness Foundation 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. This new nonprofit advocated for the implementation of Proposition 47, 7 a California ballot initiative that recategorized dozens of felony offenses as misdemeanors and retroactively reduced prison sentences and increased opportunities for criminal-record expungement. 8

In 2019 the Trust for America’s Health produced the 16th annual “State of Obesity” report funded by RWJF that included an interview with Praxis Project executive director Xavier Morales who was quoted on the need for “structural change” to address childhood obesity. 9

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. 10  

Since 2002, the Praxis Project has raised over $20 million to support organizers and activists in communities of color. 11

Work Areas and Initiatives

The Praxis Project provides fiscal sponsorship for startups and movements “to build capacity and power in communities of color” with strategic support, operational infrastructure, and compliance oversight. Praxis describes this as “working within oppressive systems rooted in white supremacy culture.” 12 According to the Fiscal Sponsorship Directory, Praxis began offering fiscal sponsorship in 2016 and has sponsored 20 projects. 13

The Praxis Learning Center provides convenings, trainings, webinars, and consultation services. 14 Through Praxis Learning Circles grassroots organizations focused on local issues meet to share expertise, tools, and experiences in community organizing. 15 Through the “Roots & Remedies” program, Praxis hosts annual convenings of “social justice activists and progressive networks.” 16 Praxis offers training programs to local health departments and public health organizations interested in “racial equity” in the health system through policy, systems, and environmental change and to activists and organizers for “health justice and racial equity.” 17

Praxis advocates for soft-drink taxes and investing the revenue into communities of color and be used to promote healthier lifestyles. It claims that soft-drink companies target communities of color and cause much of the preventable chronic diseases in these communities. 18

In 2023, Praxis and activist think tank Changelab Solutions collaborated to create the Toward Better Rural Futures project, funded by RWJF. The project is also part of Thrive Rural, a coalition of organizations funded by Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group. Through this program it engages with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices to promote rural prosperity and address “deep-rooted inequities” for rural and tribal communities. 19 Content developed by Changelab Solutions and Praxis includes policy strategies to benefit Black, Indigenous and other People of Color in rural communities. 20

In 2023, Praxis partnered with Berkeley Media Studies Group, a project of the Public Health Institute to assess the role of community advocacy groups in declarations of race as a public health crisis. The resulting report Equity in Action? provides insights and recommendations to community groups on how to get involved in shaping policy agendas. RWJF funded this study and Innercity Struggle, Black Women for Wellness, and RE-Center: Race & Equity in Education contributed to the report. 21

Lawsuits Against Coca-Cola

In January 2017, along with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the Praxis Project sued beverage company Coca-Cola and a trade organization, the American Beverage Association (ABA), in federal district court in California targeting the company’s products as a cause of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The suit demanded that Coca-Cola and the ABA change their marketing, disclose information, and fund consumer education on the health effects of their products. 22   

Praxis withdrew this lawsuit and in July 2017 filed a similar lawsuit along with two Washington, D.C, pastors. They were represented by litigators from CSPI and the Public Health Advocacy Institute. In February 2021, they withdrew the complaint. According to the Praxis press release, Coca-Cola and the ABA have changed their messaging and have eliminated misleading statements indicated that their products have no connection to chronic disease. 23


The Praxis Project’s 2022 tax returns reported revenues of $20,791,301 and expenses of $19,531,081. 24

Ford Foundation has granted Praxis almost $2.3 million as of December 2023. In 2008 it granted Praxis $900,000 for the Building Capacity Building Power project to improve civic engagement. It also supported Praxis sponsored pro-abortion group Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice and left-wing immigrant advocacy group UndocuBlack Network. 25

In 2022, MacKenzie Scott donated $4 million to the Praxis Project. 26 Scott has donated over $16.5 billion to over 1,900 nonprofit organizations as of December 2023. 27 She is a philanthropist, author, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and a signee of the Giving Pledge which commits her to giving away at least half of her wealth over the course of her lifetime. She is #21 in the 2023 Forbes 400 with a net worth of $39.9 billion as of December 2023. 28

Other recent donors include left-of-center philanthropic and advocacy organizations Solidaire Network, Campaign Legal Center, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Borealis Philanthropy, Groundswell Fund, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.     29

Praxis has provided seed grant money and technical assistance to left-of-center advocacy groups such as Black Lives Matter, Pushback Network, Right to the City Alliance, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, 30 National Black Food and Justice Alliance, and UndocuBlack Network. 31

Pro-abortion group Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice has been fiscally sponsored by the Praxis Project since 2017. 32

In 2022 Praxis paid out $4,365,275 in grants 33 including $500,000 to National Black Food and Justice Alliance and $2.7 million to UndocuBlack Network, a left-wing advocacy group for illegal immigrants, as well as smaller amounts to several local community left-of-center organizations. 34

Communities of Praxis

The Praxis Project 2022 Annual Network Survey Brief describes the Communities of Praxis as a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color network of community organizations focused on “health, justice, and racial equity.” They are Praxis community partners and fiscally sponsored projects and include the left-of-center groups Asian Services in Action, Inc, Dakota Rural Action, Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, Four Directions, Grassroots Leadership, Innercity Struggle, Khmer Girls in Action, National Black Food and Justice Alliance, Native Organizers Alliance, Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, and Southern Echo. These organizations participate in the Praxis Learning Circles and the annual Roots & Remedies program.  35


The Praxis Project was founded by Makani Themba, who served as its first executive director from 2002 until 2016. 36 She then founded Higher Ground Change Strategies, a consulting firm in Jackson, Mississippi that provides strategic planning, facilitation, and communications support for organizations focused on social justice. Previously Themba was program director for left-of-center advocacy group Race Forward (Applied Research Center). 37 She 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 co-author of Fair Game: A Strategy Guide for Racial Justice Communications in the Obama Era. 38  

In May 2021 Themba was named a senior executive of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation when its founder and executive director Patrisse Cullors stepped down due to questionable financial activities. 39 However, Themba never took the position due to disagreements with Black Lives Matter’s Leadership Council. 40  She has contributed consistently to Democratic candidates including U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Democratic Mississippi House of Representatives candidate Rukia Lumumba, 41 42 executive director of left-of-center activist group People’s Advocacy Institute. 43

Xavier Morales is executive director and member of the board. 44 He holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University. He is a member of several boards including East Bay Community Foundation and civil rights group Urban Peace Institute. Previously he was executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. 45

Carla Sparks is board chair of the Praxis Project. 46 She is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) specialist at Arkansas Children’s. Sparks is on the advisory boards of the University of Chicago and the Center for Community Philanthropy at the Clinton School of Public Service. 47

Alex Tom, left-wing organizer and executive director of the Center for Empowered Politics, was on the board of the Praxis Project until 2021. He is a board member of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity and a trustee for the Common Counsel Foundation. Previously he was executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco). 48


  1. “Our History.” The Praxis Project – About. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  2. “Awarded Grants.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.” Accessed December 13, 2023.
  3. “Our History.” The Praxis Project – About. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  4. “Our History.” The Praxis Project – About. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  5. “Awarded Grants.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.” Accessed December 13, 2023.
  6. W K Kellog Foundation. Return of Private Foundation. (Form 990PF – Section XV.) 2014.
  7. “Cal Wellness Invests $13 Million to Meet Health Needs of Women of Color.” The California Wellness Foundation. April 17, 2018. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  8. “California Proposition 47, Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative.” Ballotpedia. Accessed December 14, 2023.,_Reduced_Penalties_for_Some_Crimes_Initiative_(2014)
  9. Susan Perry. “Minnesota’s adult obesity rate is 30.1%, up from 28.4%.” MinnPost. September 12, 2019. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  10. “Our History.” The Praxis Project – About. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  11.  “Our History.” The Praxis Project – About. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  12. “Movement Building Fiscal Sponsorship.” The Praxis Project – Our Initiatives. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  13. “The Praxis Project.” Fiscal Sponsor Directory. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  14. “Praxis Learning Center.” The Praxis Project – Our Initiatives. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  15. “Learning Circles.” The Praxis Project – Our Initiatives. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  16. “Roots & Remedies.” The Praxis Project – Our Initiatives. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  17. “Praxis Learning Center Topics.” The Praxis Project – Our Initiatives – Praxis Learning Center. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  18. “Centering Community and Equity Through Sugary Drink Tax Investments.” The Praxis Project – Our Initiatives. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  19. Anna Heard and Sally Rood. “”Governors and States Are Advancing Equitable Rural Economic Development and Healthcare.” National Governors Association. April 12, 2023. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  20. “Toward Better Rural Futures.” Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group. May 3, 2023. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  21. Equity in Action? The Praxis Project – Reports and Resources. Accessed December 15, 2023.
  22. Russell Grantham. “Lawsuit alleges Coca-Cola covered up soft drink health threats.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. January 4, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  23. “What Has Changed Since We Filed Our Lawsuit Against a Beverage Industry Giant & What Still Must Be Changed.” The Praxis Project. February 8, 2021. Accessed December 15, 2023.
  24. The Praxis Project. Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. (Form 990 – Part I). 2022.
  25. “Grants Database.” Ford Foundation. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  26. “Gifts.” Yield Giving – The Praxis Project. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  27. Yield Giving website. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  28. “MacKenzie Scott.” Forbes. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  29. “The Praxis Project.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer search. Accessed December 15, 2023.
  30. “Our History.” The Praxis Project – About. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  31. The Praxis Project. Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. (Form 990 – Schedule I). 2022.
  32. “A Year of Transitions.” RESURJ Annual Report 2021. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  33. The Praxis Project. Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. (Form 990 – Part I). 2022.
  34. The Praxis Project. Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. (Form 990 – Schedule I). 2022.
  35. The Praxis Project 2022 Annual Network Survey Brief. The Praxis Project. Accessed December 14, 2023. from The Praxis Project – Resources & Reports.
  36. “Our History.” The Praxis Project – About. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  37. LinkedIn – Makani Themba. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  38.  “Leadership.” Higher Ground Change Strategies. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  39. Hannah Joy. “Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors steps down as executive director.” The Grio. May 27, 2021. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  40. Andrew Kerr. “BLM’s millions unaccounted for after leaders quietly jumped ship.” Washington Examiner. January 27, 2022. Accessed December 16, 2023.
  41. Open Secrets Donor Lookup – Makani Themba. Accessed December 15, 2023.
  42. “Rukia Lumumba.” Ballotpedia. Accessed December 15, 2023.
  43. “Rukia Lumumba.” People’s Advocacy Institute. Accessed December 15, 2023.
  44. “Our Board.” The Praxis Project. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  45. LinkedIn – Xavier Morales. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  46. “Our Board.” The Praxis Project. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  47. LinkedIn – Carla Colen-Sparks. Accessed December 15, 2023.
  48. LinkedIn – Alex Tom. Accessed December 15, 2023.

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
    2021 Dec Form 990 $22,557,562 $9,679,475 $24,229,401 $947,897 N $21,797,525 $760,690 $215 $160,396
    2020 Dec Form 990 $9,621,392 $6,238,200 $10,926,901 $532,940 N $9,547,010 $71,071 $309 $156,741
    2019 Dec Form 990 $7,822,587 $5,087,517 $7,201,438 $205,195 N $7,665,294 $138,253 $1,077 $152,351 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $3,912,662 $4,445,179 $4,439,745 $195,464 N $3,717,733 $192,659 $2,270 $141,189 PDF
    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