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

Oakland, CA   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 94-3297479


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

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Public arts

Environmental justice

Water resources

Public affairs

Housing development

Show more subject areas

Population served info

Children and youth


Ethnic and racial groups

Immigrants and migrants

Economically disadvantaged people

Show more populations served

NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (W05)

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?

Multiracial Democracy

Our vision of a flourishing multiracial democracy includes one where all people are able to engage fully in an equitable political and democratic process. One where leaders and governing bodies are explicitly anti-racist, represent and are accountable to the will of all people, capable of governing for all people, and where policies and laws are made in consideration and consultation with those most affected and deliver equitable outcomes. It includes government leaders and agencies at all levels using their power of setting policies, making rules, and implementing regulations to serve equity, where equity is ensured within constitutional protections.

Population(s) Served

We seek a future in which all people are fully included in a liberating economy such that poverty has been eliminated, inequality has been reduced, all work is honored and compensated, ownership is broadly shared, and social mobility is realized. This type of future will only be possible if there are fundamental shifts in core beliefs about the role of government in the economic system and the value of people over profits. These shifts will enable core reforms to economic, fiscal, and monetary policies, and help ensure that corporations serve not just shareholders but also workers, consumers, local supply chains, and the communities within which they are situated.

Population(s) Served

Opportunity-rich, healthy communities will honor the dignity of every person and promote physical and economic mobility, and protection from legal and environmental harm. By centering those most harmed by inequitable systems, policies, and practices, we can build an America where everyone — especially the nearly 100 million people living in or near poverty — can thrive. Alongside all the grief and trauma we have collectively experienced as a result of the pandemic, we have also experienced proof that the demands of equity movement leaders have always been reasonable and achievable in cities and states across the country. We seek a future where all people can live in communities with access to infrastructure that meets their basic needs, including: housing that is affordable, economic security, accessible transportation, and healthy food and safe water. Realizing this vision will also require that we invest in the kinds of integrated civic engagement and coalition building strategies.

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Incarcerated people
Ethnic and racial groups
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Incarcerated people
Ethnic and racial groups
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Incarcerated people

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


Total number of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The numbers reflect that PolicyLink has been able to focus our energies on larger grant amounts from fewer institutions.

Average grant amount

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The numbers reflect that PolicyLink has been able to focus our energies on larger grant amounts from fewer institutions.

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.

We will have “Won on Equity” when we have:

A flourishing multiracial democracy in which antiracist governments and equitable governing structures protect human, social, environmental, spatial, and political rights—and advance the power and well-being of all people in all places.

An equitable economy where the market serves all 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.

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.

PolicyLink leads by being of service to the equity movement. Our work is rooted in the vision and voice of movement leaders, and it is rooted in three big ideas.

Movement leaders must be aligned and focused on structural reforms by setting a compelling policy agenda supported by equity centered data, capital, visibility, results frameworks, and networks to orchestrate sustained, structural wins.

Government must become antiracist institutions capable of stewarding an equitable nation through implementation of a racial equity governing agenda comprising standards, scoring criteria, equity audits, and ambitious policy packages, developed jointly with equity advocates.

Corporate leaders must become real champions of racial equity whose engagement with equity evolves beyond philanthropy and into active practice, supported by customized roadmaps, rigorous performance standards, accountability mechanisms, and narratives.

PolicyLink has been on a 20 year journey to arrive at this point of readiness to scale its model as a catalytic leader and backbone support for the equity movement. Winning on Equity is not new work for PolicyLink; rather it is applying our core capabilities at a new level in terms of boldness and ambition. And we are already moving quickly to build our capacity to do this work.

To support the Winning on Equity Campaign, PolicyLink is now operating in two dimensions—as a national research and action institute that lifts up the voice, wisdom and experience of local leaders to craft and advance policy and as backbone infrastructure for the equity movement and the Winning on Equity Campaign. By Lifting Up What Works, our policy initiatives uniquely bridge innovations and ideas from social movements, government agencies, and corporations. And as backbone infrastructure to the racial equity movement, and in partnership with movement leaders and institutional allies, PolicyLink will:

- Set the terms of what it means to win on equity
- Align movement leaders to each other and to the resources they need to maximize impact
- Assess progress of our collective effort
- Build power to compel elected and corporate leaders to action
- Secure policy wins
- Leverage artists and culture bearers to elevate local voices and share stories of success
- Secure sustainable funding to institutionalize the equity movement

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.
  • 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

  • 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

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 7.83 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 7.4 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 24% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of PolicyLink’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

Created in partnership with

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $1,812,648 -$1,237,954 $26,640,484 $9,559,232 $10,075,505
As % of expenses 12.1% -9.1% 143.4% 22.2% 18.9%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $1,689,570 -$1,356,614 $26,543,064 $9,534,830 $10,060,932
As % of expenses 11.2% -9.8% 142.1% 22.1% 18.9%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $14,061,990 $14,647,593 $61,963,660 $83,393,172 $46,107,101
Total revenue, % change over prior year -25.8% 4.2% 323.0% 34.6% -44.7%
Program services revenue 26.7% 14.8% 2.4% 1.7% 6.3%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.1% 0.7% 0.1% 0.3% 1.1%
Government grants 0.0% 0.4% 0.0% 1.6% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 72.7% 83.9% 97.3% 96.3% 92.6%
Other revenue 0.5% 0.3% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $14,946,957 $13,662,078 $18,583,593 $43,025,702 $53,318,962
Total expenses, % change over prior year 19.6% -8.6% 36.0% 131.5% 23.9%
Personnel 53.9% 57.8% 58.4% 32.7% 26.7%
Professional fees 16.6% 21.6% 20.6% 23.9% 24.7%
Occupancy 4.8% 5.5% 4.6% 2.2% 1.9%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 2.5% 9.5% 38.3% 32.3%
All other expenses 24.6% 12.6% 6.8% 2.9% 14.4%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $15,070,035 $13,780,738 $18,681,013 $43,050,104 $53,333,535
One month of savings $1,245,580 $1,138,507 $1,548,633 $3,585,475 $4,443,247
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $1,031,424 $1,039,682
Total full costs (estimated) $16,315,615 $14,919,245 $20,229,646 $47,667,003 $58,816,464

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 10.6 13.3 15.7 1.6 3.6
Months of cash and investments 10.6 13.3 36.7 23.7 19.7
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 9.6 9.4 24.1 12.8 12.3
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $13,194,692 $15,146,905 $24,386,563 $5,883,607 $15,992,202
Investments $0 $0 $32,480,559 $78,993,249 $71,560,296
Receivables $7,135,950 $6,423,292 $9,935,543 $27,272,201 $16,560,514
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $1,369,607 $1,422,458 $1,437,651 $1,320,562 $2,218,612
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 84.9% 90.1% 92.3% 15.4% 3.4%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 6.5% 7.3% 5.4% 8.5% 13.5%
Unrestricted net assets $12,172,111 $10,815,497 $37,358,561 $46,893,391 $56,954,323
Temporarily restricted net assets $7,260,753 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $7,260,753 $9,484,222 $26,190,863 $56,987,365 $39,000,202
Total net assets $19,432,864 $20,299,719 $63,549,424 $103,880,756 $95,954,525

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Michael McAfee

Michael McAfee oversees strategy development, the alignment of PolicyLink assets, and the achievement of policy wins that ensure all people in America have economic security, live in healthy communities of opportunity, and benefit from a just society. He came to PolicyLink in 2011 as the inaugural director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink. Under his leadership, PolicyLink emerged as a national leader in building cradle-to-career systems that ensure children and youth in our nation’s most distressed communities have a pathway into the middle class. He serves on the boards of Bridge Housing, Independent Sector, North Lawndale Employment Network, One Degree, and Sweet Beginnings, LLC. He served in the United States army, completed Harvard University's Executive Program in Public Management, and earned his doctor of education in human and organizational learning from The George Washington University. He is an avid off-road hiker and practitioner of Bikram yoga.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization


Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization


Board of directors
as of 04/09/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this 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 A. McAfee


Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Darrick Hamilton

The New School

Kay Fernandez Smith


Jeffery Bradach


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 4/9/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

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

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/05/2023

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.


Fiscal year ending
There are no fundraisers recorded for this organization.