About Us


Advancement Project is an innovative civil rights law, policy, and communications “action tank” that advances universal opportunity and a just democracy for those left behind in America. We believe that sustainable progress can be made when multiple tools—law, policy analysis, strategic communications, technology, and research— are coordinated with grassroots movements.

For the past ten years, Advancement Project has focused on the use and devastating effects of harsh school discipline policies and practices and the increased role of law enforcement in public schools.  We work at both the national level and on the ground with our community partners to examine, expose, and reform practices that lead to the criminalization of students.


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.

To implement 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.


Advancement Project's Opportunity to Learn Program seeks to eliminate institutional barriers that exclude children of color and low income children from quality K-12 education and opportunities to pursue college degrees.

Since our inception, Advancement Project has worked 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 through its’ Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Project. Through our nationally acclaimed research and analysis of school discipline data and policies, communication strategies, and policy advocacy, we are eliminating the needless exclusion of young people from their schools through the use of suspensions, expulsions, and arrests.

The goals of Advancement Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track project are:

  • To document and expose the use of zero tolerance and other harsh disciplinary policies and the “Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track”;
  • To develop and implement school discipline reforms on the local level that will serve as models for other communities;
  • To strengthen the capacity of the youth and parents involved in this work to become engaged citizens and agents of change; and
  • To impact the national conversation about this issue in order to facilitate broader reforms.



The mission of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro
is to foster and model a spirit of community based on Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of a "Beloved Community."
In this spirit, they envision and work towards social and
economic relations that affirm and realize the equality,
dignity, worth, and potential of every person. The essence
of all the work of the BCC - regardless of what particular issue,
activity, or area of involvement - is to foster a spirit of authentic


NAACP Florida State Conference
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social,
and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate
racial hatred and racial discrimination. Organized more than
60 years ago, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP has
fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African
Americans would be heard.
Padres y Jovenes Unidos
With roots in the struggle for educational justice, Padres
Unidos has evolved into a multi-issue organization led by
people of color fighting for educational equity, student rights,
and justice for immigrants. Out of these struggles for justice,
Jovenes Unidos has emerged. Both Padres y Jovenes Unidos
challenge the root cause of discrimination, racism, and inequity
by exposing the economic, social, and institutional basis for
injustice as well as developing effective strategies and tactics to
change it. Parents and students are empowered to organize,
develop new leadership, and realize meaningful change.
Tenants and Workers United
Tenants & Workers United is a democratically-controlled,
grassroots organization committed to winning social and
economic justice and building the power of low-income
people of Northern Virginia – Latinos/as, African Americans,
tenants, immigrants, workers, women, and youth. They build
power by: organizing low-income communities and workers
and forming both geographic and workforce-sector based
chapters; challenging racism and sexism through education
and direct action; deepening our political analysis and
awareness – developing community leaders; creating
campaigns and coalitions to win social change; and
cooperatively controlling community resources.

Youth United for Change

Youth United for Change (Y.U.C) is an organization dedicated
to developing young leaders in Philadelphia and empowering
them to improve the quality of education and services in their
communities to better meet their needs. This is done through
a process of institution-based community organizing where a
diverse group of young people comes together to identify
common concerns and takes collective action to address them.
Y.U.C is building a broad-based, democratic organization with
the power to hold school officials and government accountable
to meet the needs of Philadelphia's youth. Y.U.C believes that
every young person deserves a quality education that will
enable them to have a variety of options upon graduation
whether that be to attend college, further their training, pursue
a fulfilling career or obtain a stable job.


Expert Staff:

Judith Browne-Dianis, Co-Director

Judith Browne has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of education, voting rights, housing, immigrants’ rights, and employment. Browne is a recipient of the distinguished Skadden Fellowship and joined Advancement Project at its inception in 1999, after serving as the Managing Attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. At Advancement Project, Browne has directed the Opportunity to Learn Project, and the Strategic Initiatives Project, which includes the Inclusive Development and Immigrant Justice projects. She is widely respected for her legal work on voting rights and fair housing issues, and in the public advocacy arena, Browne’s work on discipline policies and the criminalization of youth in public schools has received national recognition.

From its inception, Advancement Project has worked with grassroots organizations to eliminate zero tolerance, as well as advocating for equitable schools. Under Browne’s leadership, Advancement Project has been successfully dismantling the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, reducing the unnecessary criminalization of students by their schools. Browne and Advancement Project staff have authored several reports including the groundbreaking study in 2003, Derailed: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track and Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse that documents how public schools are becoming feeders to the juvenile justice system. Browne also co-authored the highly acclaimed report, Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline, which examines harsh disciplinary measures, racial disparities in school discipline, the long-term consequences of suspensions and expulsions including loss of educational opportunities, and alternatives to strict discipline. Browne’s work has been published in journals, newspapers and in Essence Magazine. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Center of Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), which challenges the misuse of standardized tests and is a Convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy.

Browne is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, served as a Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University Law School, and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law Center. She has appeared on national and local news and was named one of the “Thirty Women to Watch” by Essence Magazine.

Jim Freeman, Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Project Director

[email protected], ext. 322

Jim Freeman began his tenure at Advancement Project as a 2004 recipient of the prestigious Skadden Fellowship. Freeman works primarily with Latino and African American communities on a variety of education reform efforts, but has also worked on voting rights, housing, and immigrants' rights matters. He has researched and co-authored the following reports: Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track (2005), Arresting Development: Addressing the School Discipline Crisis in Florida (2006), Obstacles to Opportunity: Alexandria, Virginia Students Speak Out (2007), and End of the Line? Preparing for a Surge in Voter Turnout in the November 2008 General Election. Freeman is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor on the Harvard Law Review. Following law school, he served as judicial law clerk for the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California. Freeman sits on the Board of Directors of the Resilience Advocacy Project in New York, and is Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Additional Staff:

Alexi Nunn Freeman, Staff Attorney

[email protected], ext. 309

Alexi Nunn eagerly joined Advancement Project in 2007 after interning with the organization during law school. During her tenure, Nunn has focused most of her efforts in Advancement Project’s Opportunity to Learn and Inclusive Development projects. Most recently, she graduated from Harvard Law School where she worked with the Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center and the Center for Law and Education, and interned at the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area and the employment discrimination firm of Sprenger Lang. Prior to law school, she interned with the New York Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Education, and was a civil rights fellow with the Civil Rights Project. Nunn is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Cultural Studies.

Dan Farbman, Staff Attorney

[email protected], ext. 324

Dan Farbman joined Advancement Project in 2008 as a Skadden Fellow. At Advancement Project, Farbman works in its Opportunity to Learn program, focusing his attention on educational justice issues in Alexandria, VA and Denver, CO. Farbman graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007. While at Harvard, he worked at the Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center and served as Editor in Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Margaret M. Morrow on the Central District of California in Los Angeles. During his law school summers, he worked at the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama in Montgomery and the Brennan Center for Justice in New York City. Prior to law school, he graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in English and Theater & Dance. After college he taught kindergarten in Spain, spent two years acting in New York, and taught at a vocational training program for students who had been pushed out of school in Brooklyn.

Jasmine Harris, Staff Attorney

[email protected], ext. 340

Jasmine E. Harris is an experienced litigator who previously served as a Senior Associate at the prominent international law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP. At the law firm, Harris worked on a wide range of matters, including complex civil litigation, government investigations, and pro bono cases. Harris served as a law clerk for the Honorable Harold Baer, Jr. in the Southern District of New York where, in addition to her clerkship duties, she worked with federal probation officers to develop alternatives to incarceration with the goal of decreasing recidivism. Harris graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and History and received her juris doctorate from Yale Law School. At Yale, Harris served as Public Service Chair of Yale’s Latino Law Students Association and as Senior Editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review. She worked as a summer associate for Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York and Madrid, and as a consultant for the World Bank’s Legal & Judicial Reform Practice Group. Prior to law school, Harris worked with the Urban Justice Center’s Homelessness Outreach & Prevention Project as a Legal Advocate and the Project Coordinator on affordable housing, education, economic stability, and immigration issues. Ms. Harris also worked as a litigation paralegal at Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York.


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Contact us at:

1220 L Street, NW
Suite 850
Washington, DC 20005

Phone: 202-728-9557
Fax: 202-728-9558
[email protected]