About Us


The Policy, Research, and Practice Initiative is an African-American focused think tank, polling, voter research, civic engagement, and policy analysis organization. We seek to provide critical input on the impact pressing state and local public policy considerations will have on African-American Californians. The Initiative facilitates democracy-building across California’s two million African-American residents. CALPRI convenes thought leaders and media to inform the civic, economic, and cultural dialogues of the day. The policy areas of greatest focus are equal rights, employment and business development, safety, criminal justice reform, homelessness, healthcare, education, and the social safety net.

In 2015, the African American Voter Engagement Project launched in Sacramento at a “Juneteenth” celebration in conjunction with the California Legislative Black Caucus, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, African American Leaders of the Service Employees International Union, and African American legislative advocates. In 2016, the Project is renamed the African American Civic Engagement Project (AACEP) and the first statewide poll of African American voter attitudes is launched in the Spring of that year with focus groups following in the summer. Statewide briefings on African American voter attitudes connected to state and federal policy occurred in Sacramento and Los Angeles. In 2018, AACEP is renamed the Policy, Research, & Practice Initiative (CALPRI) and former Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas joins as its Director. In the Spring, CALPRI published the California African American Policy Priorities Survey (CAAPPS). In prioritizing translating policy to action, CALPRI successfully recruits Zaneta J. Smith, MSW to lead operations and programs.