Catalyst California...Change rooted in truth, partnered with community, fueled by justice.
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A Timeline of Our Victories
We released Uplifting Family Voices: Family Engagement in California’s Rate Reform & Quality Initiative, a powerful report elevates the voices of families with young children, particularly those from historically underserved communities of color across the state. The report was informed and guided by core partners, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors and California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, and offers insights from families to inform California’s decisions on rate reform and quality that can eradicate systemic barriers rooted in racism, sexism, and classism, and ensure the system is fully resourced and designed for California’s diverse children to thrive.
Among the raft of equity bills that Governor Newsom signed into law, AB 2832, also known as the Whole Child Equity bill, stands out in its bold approach to impact how our state allocates early care and education resources based on equity. The bill, sponsored by Catalyst California and championed in the legislature by Assemblymember Robert Rivas, provides a powerful tool for reducing racial and economic disparities for historically underserved communities of color across California.
Advancement Project California became 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.
Catalyst California’s RACE COUNTS initiative launched its latest update that allows users to filter critical data by race. This new feature highlights the stark racial disparities that have harmed communities of color across California for decades and underscores the urgent need to transform public systems to create a more equitable California.
Our RACE COUNTS initiative released its data reload that shows the extraordinary harm inflicted on low-income communities of color during the COVID-19 pandemic was the product of racist policies and practices embedded within and across our public and private institutions. Leading up to the pandemic, low-income communities of color experienced deep inequities across three critical sectors—economic opportunity, housing, and health care—that all too often made upward mobility impractical and entrenched poverty a foregone conclusion
We hosted our Champions for Equity Awards: Power Pivot – a riveting virtual event that honored racial justice leaders, recognized the hardships and heroism of essential workers who have been carrying us through the pandemic, and celebrated our community’s collective power and perseverance. Thanks to YOUR support, the event raised nearly $200K in critical unrestricted funding to fuel our racial and economic justice initiatives.
We successfully campaigned alongside partners for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to address the pandemic’s disparate impact on low-income communities and communities of color by passing a motion that will equitably distribute 75% of the county’s $1.9B in American Rescue Plan Act funding to the communities that need it most.
We empowered low-income Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) Californians to participate in the 2021 state and local redistricting processes by convening the Integrated Voter Engagement Redistricting Alliance and co-convening the People's Bloc coalition in Los Angeles.
In collaboration with partners, we developed and released the first-ever Justice Equity Services Index (JESI), providing policymakers and advocates the ability to detect where there are greater or fewer vital services needed to support communities most impacted by our status-quo justice system.
We launched our Funding Racial Justice Budget Advocacy Training program – a series of five virtual hands-on sessions where participants deepened their knowledge of local budgets, learned to perform budget analyses, developed campaign messaging tools, and received one-on-one mentorship and coaching on how to lead an individual budget campaign project.
We ensured LAUSD's Highest Need schools received an additional $700 million for the 2021-22 academic school year under the "Equity is Justice 2021 Resolution” utilizing the Student Equity Need Index (SENI). SENI 2.0 helps measure academic and community indicators among student populations across the district to determine which schools are in greatest need of additional funding. Students in high-need neighborhoods will now have access to additional funds and resources which will help address the inequities COVID-19 amplified in 2020 and the overall barriers our Black and Latinx students face in LA County's public school system.
We released Reimagining Traffic Safety & Bold Political Leadership in Los Angeles – a bold new interactive report that shows how Los Angeles Police Department traffic stops and arrests are racially and economically biased and provides recommendations for enhancing traffic safety through alternative models that do not rely on armed law enforcement.
We presented State of the State: A Just Recovery – a live virtual event that brought together hundreds of advocates from across the state to explore with movement leaders why and how California must center racial equity as we strive to recover from the pandemic and other recent crises.
As part of the Park Equity Alliance, we helped restore over $17M in funding amidst pandemic-related budget cuts to support parks programs in LA County. This restored funding ensured programs like the award-winning Parks After Dark could continue and provided a lifeline to low-income communities of color across the county – especially those most heavily impacted by COVID-19.
We sourced data and created interactive maps to reveal high air pollutant concentrations in the Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor and the adverse effects on residents – such as hospitalization and school absenteeism due to asthma. The maps provide our partners with the actionable data they need to demand environmental justice in the region, which has historically high rates of asthma.
We released our COVID-19: Statewide Vulnerability & Recovery Index, an interactive tool that provides policymakers and advocates with actionable data to chart a path to a more equitable post-pandemic future. The index has been used by state and local leaders to identify and direct funding and policy solutions to those most impacted by the pandemic and decades of systemic racism.
We developed our Early Care and Education blog series to document California’s early learning and care system amid COVID-19, telling the stories of home-based child care providers committed to caring for children despite the pandemic’s dangers. The series sheds light on what folks in this field – primarily women of color – are grappling with and the support they need
We worked alongside organizations across the state and country to ensure the 2020 Census accurately counted disenfranchised communities who were historically excluded from previous counts. Thanks to our collective efforts, California’s self-response rate surpassed its 2010 self-response rate despite all the traditional Census outreach strategies being upended by the pandemic.
We successfully advocated for the Los Angeles Unified School District to reduce funding for school police by $26M and redirect those funds to invest in resources for Black students. This is a critical first step to defunding school police and investing in Black futures.
We pushed the LA County Board of Supervisors to build up nearly $100M for the Alternatives to Policing Program and the Office of Diversion and Reentry in this year's Supplemental Budget - money that can be used to support system-impacted individuals and lay a framework for how to design systems that apply a care-first approach.
Through our advocacy, we stopped the permanent closure of school buildings, which would have reduced educational opportunities and services for students in COVID-impacted neighborhoods.
We helped defeat statewide budget cuts to child care programs offering essential care to families through family child care homes and child care centers in the following programs: Alternative Payment Program, General Child Care, and the California State Preschool Program.
We launched WeBudget, our groundbreaking data platform to help parents, students, caregivers, and advocates better push for equity in the Los Angeles Unified School District budget.
We advocated for: distributing $2.9B in federal CARES Act dollars using the Local Control Funding Formula; requiring social emotional wellness and robust engagement of students and families in return-to-school plans; investing $45M for community schools and collaborating with service providers, educators, students, and families; and identifying alternatives to school police and resource officers.
We pushed the LA City Council and County Supervisors to enact over 20 crucial protections for communities most affected by COVID-19, including foreclosure prevention and mortgage relief, temporary housing for over 5,000 people experiencing homelessness, and guaranteed paid sick leave for more than 440,000 workers.
We became a member of PUSH LA, a coalition formed in response to decades of racist policing that has plagued Black and Brown communities in Los Angeles. Launched after data analyses in the Los Angeles Times revealed that the LAPD Metro Division officers stopped and arrested Black people at a rate more than five times their share of the city’s population, we were able to successfully get the department to change its policy and drastically cut back on random stops.
Imagine how much brighter the future looks when cities decide to invest meaningful time and resources towards youth development. That’s what members of the Invest in Youth Coalition did when they successfully advocated for the City of Los Angeles to establish an executive task force to develop a comprehensive citywide youth development strategy. As a founding member of the coalition, Advancement Project California conducted a geographic analysis of LA’s highest need youth and identified opportunities for the city government to fill gaps in services. Our Beloved California is one where the important responsibilities of youth development are a top priority.
Imagine healthy, sustainable communities where people of color have access to parks. With our partners, we brought over 300 residents to an LA County Board of Supervisors meeting to successfully advocate for park equity guidelines that will create more parks in communities that have borne the brunt of past disinvestment. Our Beloved California takes real steps to create vibrant, green communities, especially for children and older residents in park-poor areas.
Imagine the 2020 Census being more than just a count, but also an opportunity for community-based organizations to help residents lead policy change in their own neighborhoods. That’s at the core of what the Los Angeles Regional Census Table is doing. In partnership with organizations like Long Beach Forward and LA Voice, we created a space for collaboration and leadership development not just to ensure a fair, accurate 2020 Census count, but to fortify the connections that make power building possible. Our Beloved California is one where residents feel energized to strengthen our democracy across the local, state and national levels.
Imagine public schools that help students become fluent and literate in multiple languages. In partnership with organizations like Educare, we helped develop and launch dual language programs in early childhood settings in two of the largest districts in California – Los Angeles and Long Beach. Our Beloved California knows bilingualism is one of the richest assets in our State.
Imagine community organizers and government officials understanding how racial inequality affects their local communities. We created RACECOUNTS.org to give organizers and equity advocates across the State access to public data revealing how race affects life outcomes. In 2018, we added new data for over 100 of California's largest cities and 300 school districts to our online tool. Our Beloved California tackles the legacy of racial inequality in our public systems with rigorous research and analysis.
Imagine every baby and toddler in Los Angeles having access to high-quality early learning opportunities. We need bold solutions to realize this vision. That’s why we worked with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to unanimously pass a motion to assess County-owned properties available to be used for future early care and education services. Our Beloved California gives our youngest learners a fair shot at success in life.
Imagine safe haven schools that find real solutions to combat a climate of fear and hate. We and our partners created the Welcoming & Safe Schools for All Model Resolution, which protects the rights of immigrant students, students of color, students of faith, and LGBTQ students. Our Beloved California is one where schools take proactive steps to create safe, supportive learning environments for all students.
Imagine fully-resourced schools that fairly compensate educators and provide our kids with a quality education. We believe breaking down barriers between education systems is the key to achieving that vision. That is why we created the Birth to Twelfth Grade Water Cooler Conference, a first-of-its-kind event uniting over 250 of California’s top policy leaders and practitioners from all across the educational landscape. Our Beloved California is one where collaboration creates the path to success.
Imagine young people being excited to help set priorities for a city budget. Our partnership with community-based organizations on the Invest in Youth Long Beach campaign led the City of Long Beach to begin developing a strategic plan to support youth development programs. Our Beloved California harnesses the power of young people and meaningfully involves them in budget decisions.
Imagine residents going door-to-door to ensure their neighbors are counted in the 2020 Census because billions of dollars for schools, healthcare and housing are at stake. With our Census Policy Advocacy Network partners, we won a historic budget allocation of $90.3 million in state funding to support 2020 Census outreach. Our Beloved California knows every resident counts, regardless of race and citizenship status.
Imagine a school system that uplifts Black and Brown students with wraparound support services that are responsive to community conditions. In partnership with Community Coalition and InnerCity Struggle, we formed the Equity Alliance for LA’s Kids to shift millions of dollars per year to LA’s high and highest need schools. Our Beloved California is one where schools work to eliminate poverty through equitable educational opportunities.
Imagine over 200 Californians passionate about racial justice coming together to discuss race and politics in the Golden State. We held our first annual State of the State to energize our community about the critical policy fights ahead. Our Beloved California is grounded in multiracial community building and solidarity.
Imagine what is possible when cities decide to invest in youth development instead of incarceration. We conducted a geographic analysis of the highest need youth in Los Angeles and evaluated how the city government has been approaching youth development. Our Beloved California embraces that youth are the future of our economy and society.
Imagine an MRI scan of racial inequity across California. We launched RACE COUNTS in partnership with California Calls, PICO, and USC's Program on Environmental and Regional Equity to give a 3D view of racial inequity in every California county. Our Beloved California uses rigorous data to frame advocacy campaigns that get to the root causes of racial inequities.
Our work with bilingual education advocates led to the adoption of California's first new policy for English language learners in 20 years.
We convened advocacy organizations across the state and won $3M to support 2020 Census planning.
Originally launched in 2003, HealthyCity.org has helped organizers and activists bring about real change in their communities. Our newest version features curated data on equity, collaborative mapping tools and user friendly features.
We collaborated with statewide partners to spearhead a campaign to save Transitional Kindergarten.
Advancement Project California presented a clear case for greater investment in ECE throughout L.A. County. The goal of the convening was to develop a shared agenda for ensuring that our youngest learners and their families have access to affordable and quality child-care and preschool.
Our Political Voice program officially launched in January 2016. In May 2016, we released Unequal Voices, a two-part report revealing racial disparities in political participation in California.
The Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance is a coalition of community-based organizations working to end traffic-related deaths. Advancement Project California supported the Alliance with policy advocacy and analysis.
The K-12 Water Cooler Network is a space that creates a unique opportunity for collaboration. Key stakeholders include teachers, principals, superintendents, administrators, researchers, elected officials, advocates, and many others from across California.
On June 10, 2014 the Los Angeles Board of Education today passed the Equity is Justice Resolution, directing Superintendent John Deasy to develop an “equity-based” index that identifies the highest need schools to guide the state’s allocation of new supplemental funds.
We worked closely with community-based organizations to ensure that legislative boundaries were fair and representative of our diverse state.
Advancement Project California worked with city officials to implement innovative gang reduction strategies that led to greater public safety. Crime reaches all-time low since the 1960’s.
Equity in Public Funds program analyzes public budget priorities with a particular focus on how budget decisions impact low-income communities of color. EPF has broadened its work to include K-12 education, justice system reform, land-use and infrastructure, and youth development.
Our innovative mapping technology helped improve census outreach operations by reporting real time response rates, allowing organizations to target their resources strategically.
HealthyCity.org provided advocates, government officials and organizers with the tools to map data and expose issues of health inequity.
Former NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) lawyers Constance L. Rice and Molly Munger, along with attorney Stephen R. English, formed Advancement Project after realizing that a powerful combination of data and mapping, coupled with both legal and communication strategies, would prove more potent to achieving social change than litigation on its own. They chose the name Advancement Project as a nod to their roots at the NAACP LDF and not knowing how long the organization would be around.