Justice Work at The Vaid Group is a think tank/action lab that designs and builds community interventions from practice using research, community-centered design, organizing, collaboration, network building, and policy analysis.  These interventions are dedicated to advancing racial, gender, economic and climate equity and are grounded in partnership with front-line organizations working in the substantive areas in which we focus.

Justice Work is a c3 fiscally sponsored project of the National Center for Civic Innovation, a leading fiscal sponsorship hub at the Fund for the City of New York.


Our work seeks to advance racial, gender, economic and social equity, and tackles questions that emerge from the practice of social movements. We generate original research, both by collecting new data and bringing new analytics to existing data.  We use both qualitative and quantitative methods, and center participatory research and community-centered design as methodologies.  All projects are grounded in direct engagement and collaboration with those impacted and working in the areas in which we are focused.  


Before, during and after the research phase of a project, we are engaged in action. We conduct landscape analyses, convening and consult deeply with front-line organizations and leaders, explore different perspectives to the challenges at hand, learn from those working on the issues we are tackling, and co-design interventions with partners to addresses the challenges and gaps highlighted through our inquiries.  


We strive for innovations and strategies that strengthen social movement practices, strategies, and power.  The outcome of our work is often the formation of a new network, collaboration, or organization working to build a solution.  Over the past three years, Justice Work has: organized a structural change to the agenda of the LGBTQ movement, adding a focus on criminalization and poverty; increased nonprofit and philanthropic focus on donors of color as a community to be nurtured and helped launch the Donors of Color Network; and initiated a major new survey and organizing project to add issues of gender justice more fully to the LGBTQ movement’s agenda.

Current Initiatives

The National LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey

This ground-breaking initiative is designed as an expansive survey distributed online, in English and Spanish, to understand the lives, key experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ womxn in the United States. This study is designed for people who have identified as womxn at any point on their journeys and want to share their experiences of centering womxn in their sexual, emotional, familial and social lives. We invite lesbian, bi, pansexual, trans, intersex, asexual, and queer womxn who partner with womxn; trans men who want to report on their experience of partnering with womxn when they identified as or were perceived to be girls or womxn; and non-binary people who partner with or have partnered with womxn.

The goal of the initiative is to positively impact the lives of LGBTQ+ womxn, by equiping policy and decision makers in nonprofit, service, advocacy, governmental, and community institutions, with specific information and insights into the lives, experiences, concerns, and challenges facing LGBTQ+ womxn in the US today. Over the next two years, we will conduct the survey, release regional and state-by-state data, and engage communities on findings. A fuller description is forthcoming at a new site in development called www.lgbtqwomensurvey.org.

22nd Century Initiative

The 22nd Century Initiative addresses the rapid expansion and mainstreaming of white nationalism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and theocratic Christianity through the growth of far right movements in U.S. civil society, policy making bodies, and the public sector, including law enforcement, the military, and the judiciary. The Initiative develops strategies, networks, research, and actions to decrease the political and cultural impact of far-right movements in the U.S. to protect the integrity of US democracy, and counter the Right's undermining of racial, gender, economic, and social justice movements seeking to expand democracy for all.

Data for Social Justice

Data for Social Justice is a multi-faceted initiative to accelerate change by supporting practitioners in creating and using data to map and analyze racial equity, anti-poverty and LGBTQ issues in key underserved areas and communities.

Transformational Human Resources

Human resources are the core of organizational identity and culture -- they are its talent, the enactment of its operating code, the atmosphere that makes up its culture and the expression and enforcement mechanisms through which an organization can manifest its values. Yet in many instances, human resources as a field of practice remains limited to a formalistic, risk-management framework. Practitioners resort to compliance instead of practicing equity. While the framework of human resources is certainly legally-bound, the reliance and resort to management law firms as arbiters of decisions in critical situations has the effect of limiting the realization of human resource as an equity strategy. This initiative is a thought-partnership with Seattle-based strategist Margherita Vacchiano. Over the next two years we will write discussion papers, convene practitioners, and develop strategies aimed at transforming human resource management for social justice oriented nonprofits.

Past Initiatives

Donors of Color Project

Impact: 2019 launch of the Donors of Color Network, the first cross-racial network connecting individual HNW donors of color working to advance racial equity.

Research/Action: We incubated this multi-year research and community engagement initiative. Our initiative design relied on research, direct one on one conversations with high net worth donors of color, convening and focus groups, and network organizing. Research reports include: The Apparitional Donor: Understanding and Engaging High Net Worth Donors of Color, and a forthcoming additional report based on 113 interviews.

National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group

Impact: The National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group is a network of groups and individuals working to reduce the harm of the criminal legal system in the lives of LGBTQ people. The Network is coordinated and managed by Black & Pink.

Research/Action: We initiated this initiative in 2013 as a participatory research and policy development process that produced the ground-breaking report, A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT people and People Living with HIV, co-authored by Catherine Hanssens, Aisha-Moodie Mills, Andrea Ritchie, Dean Spade and Urvashi Vaid, and published by Columbia Law School Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.
After publication of the report, we organized and managed the National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group from 2014-early 2020.

National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network

Impact: The National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network was founded in October 2018 and is co-coordinated today by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). The mission of the Network is to end poverty in the U.S., advocate for economic justice, and pursue solutions to economic, racial, gender and social disparities as they specifically impact low-income LGBTQ people.

Research/Action: We initiated this work in 2015 by launching participatory research and consultation with service providers and advocates working at the intersection of sexuality, gender identity and poverty. In partnership with several organizations (NCLR, Center for American Progress, National LGBTQ Task Force, Whitman Walker Health, Family Equality Council, Williams Institute, Transgender Women of Color Coalition, we consulted with more than 240 people in 8 states and 2 rural communities to identify policy priorities. We co-authored the report, Intersecting Inequality: A National Call to Action on LGBTQ Poverty.