PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity by Lifting Up What Works.®

Oakland, CA   |  https://www.policylink.org


As the nation moves toward becoming majority people of color, achieving equity—just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential—is the moral imperative, a potent antidote to inequality, and the superior growth model. To advance equity, PolicyLink advocates for groundbreaking policy changes that enable everyone, especially people of color, to be economically secure, live in healthy communities of opportunity, and benefit from a just society. PolicyLink is guided by the belief that the solutions to the nation’s challenges lie with those closest to these challenges: when the wisdom, voice, and experience of those traditionally absent from policymaking drive the process, profound policy transformations emerge.

Ruling year info


President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Michael McAfee

Main address

1438 Webster Street, Suite 303

Oakland, CA 94612-3228 USA

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NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (W05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

With 100 million people living in or near poverty, including nearly half of people of color, PolicyLink is committed to unlocking the promise of the nation by unleashing the promise in us all. To achieve this future, in partnership with a wide range of equity movement leaders, PolicyLink is advancing Winning on Equity—a cross-sector, nation-building campaign, linking civil society leaders, government agencies, and corporate power to advance the equity movement and redesign the nation so that it works for all, starting with people of color. Our work is guided by a focus on one unifying result: Ensuring all people in America—particularly those who face the burdens of structural racism—participate in flourishing multiracial democracy, prosper in an equitable economy, and thrive in thriving communities of opportunity. We focus on advancing liberating policies for the 100 million people living in or near poverty, the majority of whom are people of color.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Equitable Economy

Promote economic inclusion and ownership to eliminate poverty, shrink inequality, and increase mobility.

Population(s) Served

Create and maintain opportunity-rich communities in all neighborhoods and all regions of the country through strong networks and social capital, equitable development, and infrastructure investments that enable low-income people and communities of color to thrive.

Population(s) Served

Build power and expand agency to ensure that all systems and institutions are just, free of racial bias, and lead to a vibrant democracy where all, especially the most vulnerable, can participate and prosper.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of policies formally introduced

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people, People of African descent, Incarcerated people, Activists

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

As equity becomes the beacon for the nation, we must confront the reality that “Winning on Equity” requires addressing the structural, political, and cultural barriers that have held back the nation since its founding. And, just as PolicyLink ignited the racial equity movement 20 years ago, PolicyLink now leads with a vision to redesign the nation so that it works for all and realizes the promise of equity. PolicyLink operates on multiple fronts to dismantle oppressive structures of inequality, racism, and exclusion to achieve structural reforms and advance racial and economic equity. Our future work is rooted in three big ideas that connect all three sectors of our society.

Movement leaders must be aligned and focused on structural reforms.
Government must become antiracist.
Corporate leaders must become real champions of racial equity.

By Lifting Up What Works, our policy initiatives uniquely bridge innovations and ideas from social movements, government agencies, and the most influential corporations. And as backbone infrastructure to the racial equity movement, and in partnership with movement leaders and institutional allies, PolicyLink will align movement leaders to each other and to the resources they need to maximize impact.

PolicyLink is committed to ensuring every equity policy and investment provides significant, sustained support to the over 100 million people in America that are living at or near poverty, and serves as a catalyst for an equitable economy, an inclusive and compassionate society, and a strong, accountable democracy. PolicyLink is doing everything in its power to make this moment in the nation’s history one that delivers results for the 100 million.

PolicyLink is directing our strategic engagements to three domains in support of Winning on Equity:

Changing the Rules of the Game for Democracy and the Economy - Rebalance public and private sector power by reconstructing the legal and regulatory framework of America to be: 1) anti-racist to achieve racial equity, 2) an accountable multiracial democracy, and 3) free of economic oppression.

Building Power through Movement Infrastructure - Increase the impact of equity movement leaders by providing them with the data, policy ideas, money, visibility, and network power to accelerate achieving transformative policy wins.

Reimagining Communities - Partner with local leadership to deliver racially just, economically inclusive and ecologically sustainable cities, regions and states. Opportunity-rich, healthy communities will honor the dignity of every person with equitable investments in critical infrastructure, including good jobs, community safety, arts and culture, stable and affordable housing, anti-racist human services,quality education, and clean water.

The PolicyLink programmatic initiatives are organized within three interlocking, mutually reinforcing areas of work:

From Racialized Economic Inequality to an Equitable Economy. An equitable economy where the market serves the people, where the government produces and regulates the flow of money as a commodity that is available to all, where work is honored with compensation that affords self-determination and mobility, and where wealth produced by the many is enjoyed by the many. Economic participation is essential to reversing inequality, improving mobility, and growing the middle class. PolicyLink Equitable Economy initiatives focus on creating good jobs, expanding entrepreneurship, and building human capabilities, which will lead to a future in which there is full economic inclusion, where poverty has been eliminated, inequality has been reduced, and social mobility is greater.

From Suppressed and Constrained Governance to a Multicultural, Engaged Democracy and Just Society. A flourishing multiracial democracy, inclusive of antiracist governments and equitable governing structures that protect human, social, environmental, spatial and political rights and advance the power and well being of all people in all places. Even as the equity movement succeeds in growing a more inclusive economy and building opportunity-rich communities, millions of people will remain shut out unless the nation unchains democracy to free the voice and will of all people. This is an essential step toward dismantling the fundamental barriers that are deeply woven into the fabric of our government and democracy that block progress on every issue and in every community. PolicyLink initiatives advocate for reforms so systems and institutions operate free of racial bias, which will lead to a future in which all systems and institutions are just, free of racial bias, and in which there is a vibrant democracy where all, especially the most vulnerable, can participate and prosper.

From Segregation and Isolation to Healthy Communities of Opportunity. A new model of thriving communities, where families of color can prosper through equitable infrastructure investments, a sustainable and resilient built-environment, diverse and inclusive social organizations, and conditions of safety, security and justice. To participate in economic life, people must live in healthy, safe, stable places connected to opportunity and resources, which will lead to a future where equitable development, infrastructure investments, networks and social capital enable low-income people and communities of color to experience optimal health and thrive.

PolicyLink is highly disciplined in selecting the projects it undertakes and in the approach it brings to executing them. While building and managing a portfolio of initiatives that touch on a range of issues, PolicyLink aims to meaningfully advance the equity agenda—measured by real results on the ground— and each project is pursued via a well-developed set of principles and capacities that have evolved based on experience. The core elements of the approach, which have enabled PolicyLink to help deliver billions of dollars in policy victories at the local, state, and national levels for local communities, are as follows.

1. Driven by a strategic equity framework: employs a dynamic, nuanced, and multifaceted communications and research agenda that continuously defines the national equity narrative.

2. Grounded in place: develops strategies to improve people’s lives in the context of the places where they live.

3. Deals honestly and straightforwardly with issues of race: achieves equity results through an uncompromised command of the nuances of structural and overt racism.

4. Comprehensive and integrated: aggregates strategies and policies; works across sectors; and simultaneously engages community, government, and business leaders.

5. Solutions­ oriented: crafts policy based on a positive, inclusive framing that harnesses the creativity and will of diverse sectors.

6. Results­ based: grounds policy advocacy in a results framework focused on the 100 million Americans living in or near poverty.

7. Informed by disaggregated data: all policy strategies and campaigns are supported by data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, nativity, class, and gender.

8. Expands agency and power: leads with the voice, wisdom, and experience of local residents and organizations in policy development and advocacy.

9. Builds capacity: maintains a track record of building strong leaders at strong organizations by working in partnership, conducting trainings, and providing coaching and mentorship opportunities.

10. Backed by partnerships and networks: solves complex problems through strong and diverse partnerships.

PolicyLink has meaningfully contributed to advancing the national equity agenda— anchored in place, informed by disaggregated data, measured by real results on the ground, and based on a deep understanding of the nuances of structural and overt racism. Below are some examples of the PolicyLink portfolio.

• Promise Neighborhoods: Twelve communities are implementing over $800 million in programming to improve educational outcomes for 300,000 children.
• Healthy Food Financing: Delivered over $1 billion in resources to create access to healthy food in low-income communities.
Sustainable Communities: With $250 million in support, piloted the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to ensure fair housing and create communities of opportunity.
• My Brother's Keeper: Supported the federal government and philanthropy to design and launch the nation's premier boys and men of color initiative and supported over 50 cities to advance boys and men of color programs.
• All-In Cities: Cities are resurgent, and they are the crucibles where ambitious strategies can and must be forged to grow an economy and a society that work for all. PolicyLink is facilitating efforts in twelve cities, from Pittsburgh to New Orleans to Oakland, to advance creative solutions that foster equitable growth, community revitalization, and democratic engagement.
National Equity Atlas. This online Atllas, with easily searchable economic data analyzed by race, ethnicity, nativity, and gender, has become an indispensable tool for 30,000 users as they campaign for equity-focused policy change. Released in 2014 and continually updated, the Atlas contains unique data on demographic shifts and the economic benefits of equity for the nation's 150 largest regions, all 50 states, the 100 largest cities, and the United States as a whole.
California Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. The Alliance has secured more than 100 state and local policy victories to improve the health, education, and economic prospects of the Alliance's constituents.
National Equity Summits. Every three years, PolicyLink convenes a one-of-kind national summit with over 3,000 attendees, focused explicitly on equity, creating a deep reservoir of intellectual, strategic, and innovative thought for feeding and sustaining the equity movement.

PolicyLink serves as a backbone organization for the equity movement and will mobilize its network of 100,000+ equity leaders and facilitate the process of aligning individuals and organizations in service of crafting a national “winning-on-equity” agenda. PolicyLink will lead the way in advancing a people-centered movement capable of moving equity ideas into the policy mainstream. PolicyLink and its partners will play a long game, over decades, with an eye on capturing the highest ground of American politics: law, fiscal policy, regulation, and the narrative frames of public discussion.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    The 100 million people in our nation that live at or below 200% of the poverty line.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 06/16/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Sheri Dunn Berry

Geoffrey Canada

Harlem Children's Zone

Stewart Kwoh

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia

Brandeis University

Michael McAfee


Richard Baron

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/3/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/16/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.