Theory of Change

Ten years ago, Advancement Project’s founding team of veteran civil rights lawyers believed that structural racism could begin to be dismantled by multi-racial grassroots organizing focused on changing public policies and supported by lawyers and communications strategies. The collective experience of Advancement Project’s founders, as well as the conclusion of some of the most creative thinkers in the civil rights field, suggested that when this method of change is employed, it can have much greater resonance than policy advocacy, litigation, or organizing tend to have on their own. Yet racial justice efforts that incorporated this essential—and powerful—mix of lawyers, organizers, and communication experts rarely occurred.

Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.

From Advancement Project’s inception, we have worked “on-the-ground,” helping organized communities of color dismantle and reform the unjust and inequitable policies that undermine the promise of democracy. Simultaneously, we have aggressively sought and seized opportunities to promote this approach to racial and social justice among our colleagues and allies in the organizing, legal, policy, and philanthropic communities.


Implementing our theory of change.

Advancement Project continues to operate on two planes: locally, we provide direct, hands-on support for organized communities in their struggles for racial and social justice, providing legal and communications resources for on-the-ground efforts; nationally, we actively broaden and extend the practice of community-centered racial justice lawyering through training, networking, creation of tools and resources, media outreach, and public education. We also operate a communications department that, in partnership with allies, uses sophisticated strategies to raise awareness of racial and social inequities and generate public will for progressive and systemic change.

We choose project activities, whether national or local, with the potential to build power at the grassroots level and to reframe and accelerate the quest for racial justice. Particularly in historically challenging arenas, such as educational equity and voting rights, we work with our allies to set the racial justice movement’s public policy agenda.


Solid relationships are at the core of our work.


They define and shape our ability to intervene with successful reform efforts and develop strong coalitions of allies that share Advancement Project’s vision of a just democracy. From our inception, we have linked communities and local groups working on allied issues and causes, lawyers, journalists, and policy analysts with data and relevant research, technical and communications support. By supporting local communities’ struggles for racial and social justice, we advance equity, access, and universal opportunity for those left behind—and pushed aside—in America.