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Advancement Project California to Become Catalyst California, Marking Renewed Commitment to Racial and Economic Justice


LOS ANGELES — Today, Advancement Project California becomes Catalyst California, marking a new chapter for the longtime racial justice organization and a renewed commitment to dismantling racial injustice and redesigning systems for access and equity.

For more than 20 years, the Advancement Project was comprised of two coequal branch offices – Advancement Project National Office and Advancement Project California – linked by a shared vision of a caring, inclusive, and just democracy. As an independent nonprofit organization, Catalyst California will continue to leverage its years of experience partnering with community groups and engaging with state and local policymakers to address pressing racial and economic equity issues facing communities of color in California. The National Office will retain the Advancement Project name and continue to be a national organization working on cutting-edge issues impacting people of color.

"Given the significant roles both offices occupy in the racial justice movement, our tremendous growth over the past few years, and extraordinary teams in both offices, now is the opportune time for each office to become separate and complementary institutions,” said John Kim, President and CEO of Catalyst California. “Together with Advancement Project National Office, we’ve built a multiracial, multigenerational staff committed to racial justice that is doing some of the most important work of our time. As Catalyst California, our advocacy — always rooted in partnership with community-based organizations and California residents — will continue to build a more diverse, more vibrant, and more successful future where all Californians have the opportunity to thrive.”

As Catalyst California, the organization will focus on:

  • Supporting power-building among Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities at a state and local level through direct campaign support, providing data, policy, and budget analysis to partners, and co-creating equitable policy-making and budgeting infrastructure.
  • Continuing to advance innovative approaches to educational equity, political equality, and racial and economic justice.
  • Re-entering the Criminal Justice field with a new program area, Reimagine Justice & Safety, to address the largest disparities in California’s criminal justice system by significantly reducing the criminal legal system’s scope and creating new visions for community safety.

Catalyst California to Build on Shared History, Partnership with Advancement Project

For over two decades, Advancement Project National Office and Advancement Project California worked together as coequal branches to pioneer new models for advocacy, use data and mapping to unearth funding disparities, and lead campaigns aimed at dismantling racist systems and institutions. Founded by former NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers Constance L. Rice, Penda Hair, and Molly Munger, along with attorney Steven R. English, the two organizations have achieved monumental success in the fight for racial and economic justice.

“For the past twenty years, Advancement Project and Catalyst California have built a robust track record to create a more inclusive just democracy and society. Our undeniable success is a testament to the staying power, leadership, and success of our collective work,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project. “As Catalyst California moves into this new chapter, I know that they will continue to build on their important legacy of ensuring that all Californians are given a fair opportunity.”

Since first launching as Advancement Project California in 1999, Catalyst California has:

  • Innovated the use of GIS mapping and data to support the lived experience of low-income communities of color, undergirding advocates’ demands for equity. and provide online data platforms helping advocates make their case for change more urgent and compelling.
  • Changed how state and local policymakers think about funding allocations – moving them away from a “divide equally” mentality to instead allocate government dollars equitably, where they are most needed and will do the most good. Most recently, Catalyst California pressed Los Angeles County to divide federal ARPA funding based on an equity funding formula created with partners. 
  • Focused on early care and education as an essential building block of a child’s future. Through the Water Cooler network and annual conference, the organization has convened a diverse set of advocates and groups to help create a unified set of demands, resulting in state budgets that now prioritize Early Care and Education (ECE) funding and recognize its importance.
  • Advanced budget equity by moving billions of dollars of state, local, and school district funding into high-need communities AND, uniquely among advocacy organizations, also supported long-term power-building by training hundreds of community-based leaders to understand public budgets and how to influence them.
  • Under the leadership of Connie Rice, the organization ensured increased gang violence prevention funding and programs were directed to the highest need communities in Los Angeles. They also pushed the LA Police Department to adopt community-centered practices and create the Community Safety Partnership, whose success has made it one of the pillars of ongoing efforts in LA as well as a national model. In 2015, the gang intervention work was successfully spun-off as the Urban Peace Institute.

“I am elated to join Catalyst California as a Board Member as they continue their transformative work that will redesign systems for access and equity across our state,” said Maria Cabildo, a Catalyst California Board Member. “The California office may have a new name, but they will remain focused on building a more diverse, more vibrant, and more successful future where all Californians have the opportunity to thrive.”

For more information on Catalyst California’s programs and advocacy priorities, visit: 


Catalyst California advocates for racial justice by building power and transforming public systems. We partner with communities of color, conduct innovative research, develop policies for actionable change, and shift money and power back into our communities.