Advancement Project

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Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. It works to achieve a caring, inclusive and just democracy in the USA.

The mission of the Advancement Project is to disseminate ideas, and pioneer models that inspire a national racial justice movement to achieve opportunity and a just democracy.[1]

Its co-directors are Judith Browne Dianis and Penda Hair.

Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis


Advancement Project was founded in 1999 by civil rights lawyers in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. and a board of directors, who include Constance L. Rice, who is also a co-director, former United States Assistant Attorney General Bill Lann Lee, and Harry Belafonte. Advancement Project's founding team of civil rights lawyers believed that structural racism could begin to be dismantled by changing public policies, supported by lawyers and communications strategies. The experience of Advancement Project's founders suggested that when this method of change is employed, it can have much better results than policy advocacy or litigation have on their own. The founders believed that racial justice efforts that incorporated this mix of lawyers, organizers, and communication experts rarely occurred.

Programs and campaigns[edit]

Advancement Project supports three major issues as a part of the organization's mission: Power and Democracy, Quality Education for All, and Strategic Initiatives. In addition to these programs, other campaigns supported by the organization include: I Dream A+ School, Protect our Vote, and Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track.

Power and Democracy[edit]

There is no right more important than the right to vote. This is because the right to vote is preservative of all other rights.[2] The voting booth is the one place where all are presumed equal, yet the reality is that the playing field is far from level. Citizens are still denied an equal opportunity to cast a ballot and have it counted, disproportionately voters of color. Advancement Project’s Voter Protection Program works to eliminate barriers to voting in the hopes of achieving a more just democracy.

Advancement Project’s main goal in its national Redistricting Project is to build power in communities of color through engagement in redistricting planning relevant to local campaigns. Advancement Project provides grassroots organizations representing communities with the tools they need to participate in the redistricting process. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of citizens are disenfranchised. Advancement Project’s Rights Restoration program focuses on restoring the rights of the disenfranchised citizens with past felony convictions in Virginia, who, because of stringent and outdated laws, permanently lose their right to vote, even after completing their sentences.

During summer 2012, Advancement Project launched a campaign aimed at winning automatic restoration, supporting the disenfranchised people, their families and advocates who have organized around this issue for nearly two decades. Advancement Project has fought for automatic rights restoration in Virginia with community organizations since 2003.

Quality Education for All[edit]

Advancement Project works to end school disciplinary measures that push children off of an academic track and on to a track to prison through its Ending the School House to Jailhouse Track program. Advancement Project works with communities throughout the country to end the use of school policies that push young people out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This is know widely known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Through Advancement Project’s nationally acclaimed research and analysis of school discipline data and policies, communication strategies, and policy advocacy, Advancement Project has been able to eliminate the needless exclusion of young people from their schools through the use of suspensions, expulsions, and arrests.

Strategic initiatives[edit]

The goal of Advancement Project’s Immigrant Justice Project is to stop the passage and implementation of immigration laws that threaten vulnerable children and families. The Immigrant Justice Project defends the rights and privileges of immigrants, particularly those who do not always have a voice. The Immigrant Justice Project conducts legal and policy research to inform the strategy of local groups, files litigation where necessary, and helps build bridges between African-American and Latino communities.


Advancement Project has worked in partnership with grassroots organizations and community groups across the country to expose educational inequity, inadequacy, and injustice. The I Dream A+ School Campaign is a web platform created to lift the voices of youth, parents, teachers, and others to the forefront of the national conversation about American public education.

Advancement Project helps protect the voter's voice through the Protect Our Vote campaign. Advancement Project works to provide voters with all the information needed to cast a vote on Election Day: tools for registering and finding the polling place, and voting rules in the voter's state.

Advancement Project and Election 2012[edit]

Advancement Project worked before and on Election Day 2012 to ensure that all American citizens would be given the opportunity to vote. Politicians tried to restrict the type of ID that voters could use, and attempted to purge eligible citizens from the rolls.[3]

  • Advancement Project and Florida: In June of 2012, Advancement Project and co-counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of several organizational and individual plaintiffs challenging Florida's purge of purported non-citizens. After the lawsuit – and after many of the voters on the list turned out to be valid U.S. citizens – Florida backed down from its voter purge. The state agreed to inform all eligible citizens on the list that their voting rights would be restored. These citizens will not have to vote with a provisional ballot, and the inclusion of anyone’s name on the list of potential non-citizens will not be interpreted as a determination of his or her eligibility to vote.
  • Advancement Project and Pennsylvania: In May, Advancement Project and co-counsel filed suit in Commonwealth Court alleging that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law deprives voters of their fundamental right to vote without justification, and that the state lacks the ability to effectively or fairly implement the law. In October, the court issued a preliminary injunction against the law, guaranteeing that strict photo identification requirements will not be in place for November 2012’s general elections. Although the state is continuing its public education campaign encouraging voters to get photo ID, and election officials are allowed to ask for it at the polls, photo ID was not required to vote in November. All eligible voters, whether or not they have ID, were able to vote using a regular ballot.
  • Advancement Project and Ohio: Advancement Project was at the forefront in Ohio, ensuring that Ohio voters didn't have their votes improperly thrown out due no fault of their own. Advancement Project fought in the courts to uphold a ruling striking Ohio's "wrong precinct law" and ruling that provisional ballots cannot be rejected if poll workers do not direct voters to the correct location to cast their ballots.


  1. ^ "Our Mission" Advancement Project. 2013
  2. ^ Harper v. Virginia Bd. of Elections, 383 U. S. 663 (1966)
  3. ^ Dianis, Judith Browne. "Top 10 Voter Suppression Moments of 2012." The Huffington Post. N.p., 26 Dec. 2012. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

External links[edit]