March 19, 2024


Joshua Stickney, Director of Communications,

Ash Lynette, Director of Development,

Oakland’s Ella Baker Center Receives $2 Million from MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving

“These resources are not ours alone, but they belong to, and will serve, our collective movement for liberation.”

OAKLAND, CA — Today, MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving announced that the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (EBC) is a recipient of $2 million as one of the Yield Giving Open Call awardees for the organization’s work with currently and formerly incarcerated people, state policy advocacy, and the Oakland community. 

“To say that the Yield Giving award will transform our work would be an understatement,” said EBC Director of Development Ash Lynette. “Whether it’s our communication with over 10,000 currently incarcerated people or our robust state policy and narrative work, EBC will now — during a time of shameful and irresponsible resurgence of ‘tough-on-crime’ policies — have the tools to effect the change that our communities desperately need. This award is not only a reflection on our past and present victories, but on the simple, yet powerful idea that our communities already know what they need — safety, liberation, and self-determination. These resources are not ours alone, but they belong to, and will serve, our collective movement for liberation.”

Dortell Williams, a 2021 EBC Inside Policy Fellow, award-winning writer, and currently incarcerated organizer at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, said, “The Ella Baker Center believes in investing in people impacted by the system; their belief in people like me prove to all watching, including those of us inside and part of the movement, that worth is only invisible until it is applied and given the space to express itself — just the opposite of the systems that censor and oppress us!”

EBC has historically played a leading role in supporting systems-impacted people to influence criminal justice reform. Campaigns and strategies implemented to advance both immediate impact and long-term shifts include the “Books not Bars” campaign, policy victories like passage of the Racial Justice Act (AB 2542, Kalra 2020) and RISE Act (SB 483, Allen, 2021), and creation of the Inside/Outside Policy Fellowship. In 2022, the Oakland organization launched “We Mentor Us,” an initiative to provide formerly incarcerated members of its team with resources to drive innovative solutions for our community.

“We are excited that our partnership with Yield Giving has resonated with so many organizations,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “In a world teeming with potential and talent, the Open Call has given us an opportunity to identify, uplift, and empower transformative organizations that often remain unseen.” 

The Open Call received 6,353 applications and initially planned for 250 awards of $1 million each. In the Fall of 2023, organizations top-rated by their peers advanced to a second round of review by an external Evaluation Panel recruited for experience relevant to this cause, and underwent a final round of due diligence. In light of the incredible work of these organizations, as judged by their peers and external panelists, the donor team decided to expand the awardee pool and the award amount. 


For over twenty-seven years, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights has advanced people-powered campaigns for racial and economic justice – and we are winning. Named after civil rights hero Ella Baker, we shift resources away from prisons and punishment towards opportunities that make our communities safe, healthy, and strong. To learn more, visit

Established by MacKenzie Scott to share a financial fortune created through the effort of countless people, Yield Giving is named after a belief in adding value by giving up control. To date, Yield’s network of staff and advisors has yielded over $16,500,000,000 to 1,900+ non-profit teams to use as they see fit for the benefit of others. To learn more, visit

Lever for Change connects donors with bold solutions to the world’s biggest problems—including issues like racial inequity, gender inequality, lack of access to economic opportunity, and climate change. Using an inclusive, equitable model and due diligence process, Lever for Change creates customized challenges and other tailored funding opportunities. Top-ranked teams and challenge finalists become members of the Bold Solutions Network—a growing global network that helps secure additional funding, amplify members’ impact, and accelerate social change. Founded in 2019 as a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Lever for Change has influenced over $1.7 billion in grants to date and provided support to more than 145 organizations. To learn more, visit