Discovering Justice

aka Discovering Justice   |   Boston, MA   |

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GuideStar Charity Check

Discovering Justice

EIN: 04-3580231


Discovering Justice envisions a society in which everyone is well-equipped with the knowledge, skills, and desire to build and sustain an equitable democracy. We bring students and communities together to examine the workings of the justice system, explore the ideals of justice, and prepare them to engage in our democracy.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Matt Wilson

Main address

1 Courthouse Way Suite 1400

Boston, MA 02210 USA

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Education services


Civic participation

Civics for youth

Population served info

Children and youth

NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Citizenship Programs, Youth Development (O54)

Citizen Participation (W24)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

America’s democracy faces constant challenges to deliver on its promises. Emerging threats, such as the continued attacks on the election results of 2020 and the passage of restrictive voting laws in dozens of states have undermined the foundational core of the electoral system. Meanwhile, the influx of money in politics compromises the function of representative democracy, diluting the ability of ordinary voices to advocate for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. These visible cracks in our nation’s democracy and justice system underscore the importance of encouraging current and future generations to acknowledge the injustices in the system and engage in civic activity to steward our fragile democracy. Without active engagement, our democratic structures will not represent the will of the people. Yet, in many school systems, civic education continues to be a peripheral part of curricula. Civics is often considered an add-on—something that is nice, but not necessary.

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?

Children Discovering Justice

Children Discovering Justice (CDJ) is our literacy-based social studies curriculum that provides K-8 students with the tools to understand sophisticated ideas such as democracy, tolerance, rights, responsibilities, and the connection between rules and law. It is our goal to move school districts and teachers beyond primarily content-based civics courses and to foster active democratic citizenship beyond the classroom walls, and as such, the curriculum for each grade incorporates a visit to the Courthouse for an interactive mock trial experience. To create vibrant learning environments where civic skills, values, and content knowledge can flourish, we provide teachers with the curriculum, training, and support they need to implement fun and effective civic learning programs in their classrooms.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial and Mock Appeal Programs pair middle school students with legal professionals to explore the judicial system, learn case analysis, and practice the civic skills needed to persuasively argue cases. Through these fun, supportive weekly sessions, student attorneys develop the confidence and vital civic skills like perspective taking, critical thinking writing, and civil discourse necessary to become leaders in our communities. This semester-long program culminates with students presenting their case before a real judge and jury of community members for Mock Trial and panel of judges for Mock Appeal.

Population(s) Served

Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial Mini Units are designed to help teachers bring civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions to their elementary classrooms through a two-week interactive unit, during which student lawyers work to analyze, build, and argue a case. Discovering Justice has worked with teachers to create units that are aligned to specific grade-level standards, structured as an engaging mock trial activity over the course of several lessons. Geared towards grades 1-5, all units are accessible online and usable to be taught virtually, in-person, or hybrid.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Through the Topics Program at Discovering Justice, students examine a single topical issue facing their communities, and cultivate the foundational civic skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to address the topic by understanding the issue from multiple perspectives, engaging in a dialogue with their peers, and taking steps to address it as an active citizen. Targeted towards grades 7-12, Discovering Justice connects classrooms with resources and exposure to community issues at the local, national, and global level with a consistent foundational connection to the legal field. The Topics Program brings community issues to life through lesson plans, panel discussions, and partnerships with external organizations like the ACLU, to illuminate a more comprehensive view of the semester focal topic and propel students to action.

Population(s) Served

Fields trips are approximately 90 minutes and include a courthouse tour and one additional activity of your choice. On the tour, students will explore the themes and ideals of justice and democracy by viewing, analyzing, and discussing key features of the building, including a real courtroom.

Additional Activity Options:

Tour + Visit with a Judge (Grades 1-12)
Tour + Courtroom Justice Activity (Grades 1-8)
Tour + Observe a Court Proceeding (Grades 7-12)

Population(s) Served

Led by Discovering Justice staff and volunteer docents, free in-person tours welcome the public into the Moakley Courthouse and provide a unique look at the structure and history of this award-winning landmark, central to the judicial landscape of Boston.

In-person tours are limited to a maximum of 40-45 people. However, exceptions can be made for groups of 60-70 with advance notice. All adults are required to present a Photo ID upon arrival to the courthouse. The Moakley Federal Courthouse is ADA accessible, and tours last approximately one hour. Please contact Courthouse Programs Associate Kiara Batista at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Children and youth

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 students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program: Grades 6-8

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

These numbers reflect the number of students enrolled in Mock Trials and Mock Appeals by year. Mock Trials are conducted in the Fall, and Mock Appeals in the Spring.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program: Grades 6-8

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Volunteers include Legal Mentors, Teacher Coordinators, Judges, and Mock Jury

Number of rallies/events/conferences/lectures held to further mission

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program: Grades 6-8

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

2020 programs were held virtually.

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.

Now more than ever, America needs active and engaged participation from an electorate, especially our youth who need the knowledge, skills, passion, empathy, and opportunities to address and meet the significant challenges the country faces. Civic education helps to safeguard the torch of democracy by setting up future generations to do just that. Focused on historically disenfranchised communities, Discovering Justice programs educate students and the broader community on the workings of the justice system, providing them with skills, opportunities, and motivation to participate in our democratic process.

Working for justice is a cornerstone of America’s democracy as we strive to create a nation that works fairly and equally for everyone. Discovering Justice believes young people are natural fairness seekers and justice advocates. We view it as our job to provide unique experiences for young people to examine our justice system and meet the members working for it.
We help students examine “Little J'' justice issues: how to look at micro-level fairness, and how to practice it with friends and family at school, at home, and on the playground. Our programs help students explore their own identities, as well as their commitment to equality and fairness. Stepping back to consider America’s complex justice system, the organization also includes a macro-level analysis of “Big J'' justice.

Through our programs, students explore the essential question: “What is justice, and how do I use my voice to advocate for it?” We create safe spaces to have important conversations around the justice and injustice they see, both in their lives and in the classroom, and, when we do it right, we transform students' passion for fairness and equality into powerful action. Students walk away, not just as passive observers of the justice system but as active engagers, set on a path towards different levels of involvement, from long-term careers in the justice system, to volunteering for justice-related causes, to simply voting and participating in our democracy in everyday life. Students leave our programs equipped with the knowledge of when, where, why, and how to use their voices to make change:
-Identifying opportunities to move from passive observers to active participants helps our students decide when
to engage and work for justice and a strong democracy.
-Knowledge of the system and all its strengths and weaknesses helps students focus on where they can direct
their energy and passion to play a role.
-Facilitating the exploration of their identities, values, and perspectives with regards to personal and societal
challenges allows our students to tap into their passions and beliefs, explaining why they should fight for what
they believe in.
-Learning the skills to effectively engage in the democratic process and justice system provides our students
with the confidence and experience to understand how to make a difference.

Strategic Direction #1
Strengthen, deepen, and expand programs to be engaging, timely, and accessible to students and communities across the Commonwealth.
Organizational & Program Impact:
New programs will be added and existing programs updated, with curricula and materials that are culturally and historically responsive, research-based, relevant, accessible, engaging, and fun. This programming, focused on the issues of justice and injustice, will increase the opportunities for students to meaningfully examine the workings of the justice system, explore the ideals of justice, and prepare to engage in our democracy.

Strategic Direction #2
Increase opportunities for students to learn directly from legal and advocacy professionals.
Organizational & Program Impact:
Each Discovering Justice program will have opportunities for students to engage with or be mentored by legal or advocacy professionals. These partners will provide rich learning experiences and help steward the next generation of diverse legal professionals and justice advocates. Students will develop new perspectives and a better understanding of career paths through their connections.

Strategic Direction #3
Integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in all aspects of Discovering Justice.
Organizational & Program Impact:
A stable, diverse, and experienced staff and an investment in visible and comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion programs will support the Discovering Justice staff and community in understanding how race, power, and privilege affects organizational culture, the justice system, and our student communities.

Strategic Direction #4
Strengthen Discovering Justice’s organizational infrastructure and capacity.
Organizational & Program Impact:
With a diverse, talented staff, board, volunteers, and financial supporters, Discovering Justice will build the capacity to bring its robust civics education program to students across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Discovering Justice's greatest strength is the high quality of our programs. Feedback from educators is overwhelmingly positive—at a recent training, Education Director Jan Shafer received a standing ovation from teachers—and Discovering Justice has become a sought-after resource. Our location in the Moakley U.S. Courthouse and focus on elementary students make us a unique voice in civic education and resource in the community. The organization benefits from the enthusiasm and dedication of experienced staff and volunteers and the reinvigorated leadership of our new Executive Director.

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 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, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

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

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback


Discovering Justice
Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30
Financial documents
2021 DJ FY22 990 2021 2021 Financial Statement 2017 Audited Financials.pdf
done  Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant. info

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 16.17 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.8 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 15% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Discovering Justice

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Discovering Justice

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

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

Discovering Justice

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Discovering Justice’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 $97,944 -$137,513 -$145,350 $645,440 -$39,751
As % of expenses 9.4% -12.5% -15.5% 77.5% -3.9%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $94,394 -$140,393 -$147,480 $644,592 -$44,479
As % of expenses 9.0% -12.7% -15.7% 77.4% -4.4%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $1,039,164 $1,110,608 $845,857 $1,093,262 $1,423,515
Total revenue, % change over prior year 8.3% 6.9% -23.8% 29.2% 30.2%
Program services revenue 4.0% 1.0% 1.1% 1.1% 4.4%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 2.5% 2.7% 3.4% 2.4% 2.3%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 12.9% 9.7%
All other grants and contributions 90.7% 95.2% 81.6% 83.2% 81.1%
Other revenue 2.9% 1.2% 13.8% 0.5% 2.5%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $1,044,844 $1,100,591 $937,010 $832,361 $1,007,631
Total expenses, % change over prior year 10.8% 5.3% -14.9% -11.2% 21.1%
Personnel 69.1% 73.0% 77.4% 73.8% 76.1%
Professional fees 9.8% 10.0% 10.1% 19.5% 13.6%
Occupancy 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 21.1% 16.9% 12.5% 6.7% 10.3%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $1,048,394 $1,103,471 $939,140 $833,209 $1,012,359
One month of savings $87,070 $91,716 $78,084 $69,363 $83,969
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $102,512
Total full costs (estimated) $1,135,464 $1,195,187 $1,017,224 $902,572 $1,198,840

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 2.2 0.4 0.7 4.2 3.4
Months of cash and investments 14.0 12.0 13.6 22.7 16.7
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 12.7 10.6 10.5 21.2 15.8
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $195,897 $37,983 $53,390 $292,370 $283,137
Investments $1,026,220 $1,066,602 $1,009,982 $1,279,733 $1,119,169
Receivables $92,619 $194,358 $166,222 $138,088 $302,528
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $107,265 $109,805 $109,805 $109,805 $110,194
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 96.8% 97.2% 99.1% 99.9% 11.1%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 9.0% 6.8% 19.9% 13.1% 6.9%
Unrestricted net assets $1,111,999 $971,606 $824,126 $1,468,718 $1,424,239
Temporarily restricted net assets $89,751 $243,223 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $89,751 $243,223 $162,861 $25,138 $256,309
Total net assets $1,201,750 $1,214,829 $986,987 $1,493,856 $1,680,548

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

Executive Director

Matt Wilson

For more than three decades, Matt Wilson has built and run community-based initiatives for a healthier and more vibrant Massachusetts. As a nonprofit executive, community organizer, public advocate, fundraiser, and trainer, Wilson has worked with residents to help them vision, realize, and build their capacity and power for change. Wilson was the founding Executive Director of MASSCreative, the statewide advocacy voice for Massachusetts’ arts, cultural, and creative community. Under his direction MASSCreative grew to more than 400 organizational members with 25,000 individuals taking part in public education and advocacy. As the Director of Toxics Action Center Wilson built the organization from scratch to a New England-wide resource for hundreds of neighborhoods working to protect themselves from environmental pollution threats. Wilson graduated from Dartmouth College and earned a Masters of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Discovering Justice

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

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

Discovering Justice

Board of directors
as of 06/30/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Mr. Anthony Jordan


Term: 2018 -

Thaddeus Beal


Jeremy Eisemann

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Richard Henken

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Tony Jordan


Peter Levine

Tufts University

Joshua Levy

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Jonathan Spack


Abim Thomas

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Paige Goodwin

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Sarah Frazier


Marieljane Bastien

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Louis Lobel


William Roberts

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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.

  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • 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? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • 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 6/30/2023

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
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

There are no contractors recorded for this organization.

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser