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From Our President & CEO, John Kim

The vision we fight for is a multiracial democracy that creates a sustainable world where ALL Californians can thrive. California’s racial justice movement is putting in place the people and policies to shift power to reach that vision.

Our progressive racial justice movement has worked for decades to undo and repair harms from long ago. We are reversing public policies that have ignored the day-to-day conditions of Californians, particularly Californians of color. And we are dismantling systems that were designed to benefit the powerful and hold back everyone else.

This annual report shares stories of how we are shifting power in multiple ways:

This work is only possible because of the expertise Catalyst California staff bring to our work with partners. It’s also only possible because of the remarkable organizers and advocates working in communities throughout California that we are proud to partner with to make change.

Our board of directors is composed of some of California’s leading racial justice thinkers and doers – their guidance ensures we stay focused on our vision. We believe in transparency, so this annual report also shares financial statements for our organization that show balanced books and healthy, sustainable growth.

It’s a good thing we’re ready. As we enter 2024, the stakes feel very high. The attacks on democracy we see are really attacks on the multiracial democracy we've been building. It will take everything we’ve got to resist the forces that want to drag us back; back to a time when our vision of a fair, just, and sustainable world was so far out of reach.

We won't let that happen. I know you won't either. Your support of Catalyst California is one way to defend our vision and build the future that we crave, together. We can’t all be on the streets and in the council chambers, but we are all part of shifting power.

It will take all of us to achieve transformative change – I'm glad you’re on our side.


Educational Equity

  • Supported thousands of providers and advocates, including the Child Care Providers Union (CCPU), to reach a historic two-year contract agreement with the State of California of nearly $1 billion. This agreement establishes a pathway to implement a provider pay system that addresses the true cost of care and secures provider benefits, including an $80 million retirement fund and $100 million for healthcare.   
  • Heard from 70 families of color with infants/toddlers about their holistic needs to thrive during five listening sessions – conducted in five languages – across the state (Central Valley, San Diego, Bay Area, Los Angeles, and the Central Coast) with the Whole Child Equity Partnership. This led to the development of a prenatal to age 3 policy agenda and informed a blog series in fall of 2023 uplifting the unique needs of infants/toddlers and their families.   
  • Hosted our first-ever Water Cooler “table talk” in a discussion about how we can deepen racial equity within the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The table included a cross-section of leaders deeply engaged in the implementation of LCFF as well as Black education leaders and parents, and Black-led grassroots organizations to inform how California can more effectively support Black students.  
  • As part of the Equity Alliance for LA’s Kids, we demanded and won permanent funding into the Student Equity Needs Index (SENI) to protect the stability of $700 million annual SENI investments. This was critical to ensuring that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) continues to fund SENI so that the district remains equity-centered.
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Equity in Community Investments

  • Launched the Budget Power Project in conjunction with the California Budget & Policy Center and the Million Voters Project. The initiative supports Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) Californians to engage in public budgeting processes now to win new investments and ensure resources are spent equitably for years to come. 
  • Released “Racial Bias in Policing: An In-Depth Analysis of Stopping Practices by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD)” to provide the Long Beach People’s Budget Coalition with a comprehensive analysis into local policing practices. Our research highlighted that, like many police departments across California, the LBPD dedicates most of its patrolling resources for traffic-related infractions rather than responding to community concerns about more serious safety issues. These practices fail to meaningfully improve safety, while also inflicting significant harms on Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and South Asian, Southwest Asian, or North African people.
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Political Voice

  • Advocated for and won a commitment from the Los Angeles City Council to bring an Independent Redistricting Commission to voters. At the beginning of 2023, Catalyst California helped launch the OUR LA coalition, a multiracial alliance of LA-based movement-building organizations united in advancing structural reforms with the City of Los Angeles in response to the racist, leaked Council audio recordings. After nearly a year of resident convenings, OUR LA identified community priorities and successfully advocated for a version of an Independent Redistricting Commission that will benefit underrepresented communities. Voters will now have the opportunity to determine the future of redistricting in Los Angeles. 
  • Catalyst California’s President and CEO, John Kim, was appointed to the California Racial Equity Commission. John, along with 10 fellow commissioners, is tasked with developing the state’s racial equity framework, which will include methodologies and tools to guide state government efforts, practices, budgets, and policies to advance equity and address structural racism. The SB 17 coalition, anchored by Catalyst California and NextGen Policy, was pivotal in proposing and advocating for the Racial Equity Commission with Governor Newsom’s office.
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Reimagine Justice & Safety

  • Following the landmark 2022 release of “Reimagining Community Safety in California”, Catalyst California’s Reimagine Justice & Safety program partnered with the ACLU to co-produce a three-part series of local reports that reveal how sheriff’s departments in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Sacramento counties engage in racially biased patrol activities that inflict devastating harms on communities of color, undermine community safety, and waste tremendous amounts of public dollars. The report series also outlines actionable recommendations on how to better protect communities of color from police violence and ensure that public funds are allocated more resourcefully. 
  • Leveraged our police reform expertise to successfully advocate for equity-centered policy recommendations from the City of Los Angeles Task Force on Non-Law Enforcement Alternatives to Traffic Safety. The Task Force’s recommendations provide a foundation for ending racially biased traffic stops in the city, limiting economically extractive traffic fees and fines, and investing in solution-oriented approaches to traffic safety.  
  • Partnered with Community Coalition to co-convene the PUSH LA (Promoting Unity, Safety, and Health in Los Angeles) coalition.  Established in 2019, PUSH LA seeks an end to decades of racially biased policing by the Los Angeles Police Department, especially for low-income communities of color and residents of South LA. 
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Office of Strategic Initiatives

  • Launched RACE COUNTS 2.0, a revamped version of the RACE COUNTS tool that provides community-based organizations, advocates, elected officials, media, and philanthropy with data and analysis on racial disparity and outcomes across the state. In addition to providing racial disparity data for more than 40 indicators, the updated RACE COUNTS tool now includes stories of organizations and partners that have used RACE COUNTS data to advance racial equity. It also has a Take Action Center where users can learn how to partner with RACE COUNTS and what they can do to address disparities highlighted by our data.  
  • Bold Vision LA, a collaborative initiative launched in 2019 between Catalyst California and multiple youth organizing and youth development organizations throughout Los Angeles County, launched its Youth Council made up of 23 youth of color leaders. The Youth Council will guide the direction of the initiative. One of Bold Vision’s primary goals is to strengthen the youth power landscape in LA County, and, to that end, the initiative also distributed grants to 13 powerful youth-serving organizations. 
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The Honorable Holly J. Mitchell, Los Angeles County Supervisor for District 2, on her acceptance of the Champion for Equity Award

“Let me first say thank you to the founders of Catalyst California – Steve English, Molly Munger, and Connie Rice. You brought a new way of thinking about justice. You turned the traditional impact litigation model on its head, which was the impetus for thinking and moving differently for this city.

I deeply appreciate the partnership we have with Catalyst California, and the work we’ve been able to do together. Because it’s the organizing, the training, the showing up for elected officials like this organization and many others have done that create partnerships and synergies, to create the kind of LA we all want to raise our children in to thrive, and the rest of us want to grow old in with dignity.”

Max Arias of SEIU Local 99, on his acceptance of the Advancing Justice Award

“Through our fight to win better wages and benefits for essential education workers, we were strengthened by the solidarity of partners like Catalyst California. You all were critical to helping our communities and elected officials understand that this was much more than a labor dispute. It was a demand to end poverty and systemic racism promoted by public institutions. Together we won a historic contract.

 Through the Equity Alliance for LA’s Kids you lifted our voice. Our collaboration with the Whole Child Equity Partnership, with Catalyst California as one of its leaders, elevated our demands for improving and expanding a state system for early care and education workers. Thank you!”

max arias acceptance speech
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You are essential to achieving our vision of a California for ALL

Thank you to the partners – community-based organizations, researchers, policymakers, funders, and donors – who make our work of advancing racial justice possible.

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