As approved by ICI’s board of directors, Feb. 11, 2021.


  1. “Your Org” is an organization being evaluated under the Standards below
  2. The “Core Leadership” of Your Org is the board’s highest leadership body (e.g. board of directors), as well as anyone who can make decisions on behalf of Your Org (e.g. executive director, steering committee)
  3. A “Chapter” is a subgroup of another organization, organized under and subject to its bylaws.
  4. A “Consortium” is an organization arising out of an agreement between other organizations.
  5. The words “year”, or “annual,” when referring to finances, is Your Org’s accounting year, or if Your Org has none, the calendar year.
  6. “Material Support” means anything of value exceeding 2% of annual receipts from any entity.
  7. An “Authoritarian Regime” is a country listed as an “authoritarian regime” in either the latest version of the Economist’s Democracy Index or with a Global Freedom Score of “not free” in Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World report.


  1. Must exist primarily to benefit Californians
    1. Valid approaches to California independence include, but are not limited to:
      1. Advocating for greater political autonomy from the federal government
      2. Fostering a sense of Californian national identity
      3. Highlighting and working to remedy Californians’ democratic deficit in the federal system
      4. Making contingency plans to buffer Californians against chaos and dysfunction at the federal level
      5. Advocating for California to act more like other modern democracies
      6. Decolonization
    2. Whatever approach Your Org takes, the primary purpose of Your Org’s pursuit of independence shall be to benefit Californians, not merely a means to some other end (e.g. creating the state of Jefferson, destabilizing the U.S.).
  2. Must be non-violent
    1. Your Org shall not use violence to achieve its aims.
    2. Your Org shall not advocate that anyone use violence except in accordance with the rule of law (e.g. police actions, self-defense).
    3. Your Org shall not advocate for unilateral secession. Valid non-violent (and legal) alternatives include:
      1. Negotiated secession (like Czechia and Slovakia)
      2. Getting kicked out of the U.S. (like Singapore from Malaysia)
      3. Making contingency plans in case the United States ceases to exist (like the Soviet Union)
  3. Must be based in California
    1. Your Org’s Core Leadership should live in California.
      1. Limited exception: they may temporarily reside outside of California provided:
        1. They were resident in California at the time they joined your Core Leadership
        2. They maintain legal residence in California
        3. They do not reside under an Authoritarian Regime
    2. The majority of Your Org’s revenue in any year must come from California residents or organizations based in California.
      1. Limited exceptions can be made for grant funding, provided:
        1. You publicly disclose the source and amount of the grant
        2. You can demonstrate that grant money was spent only for the grant’s specific purpose and not Your Org’s general activities
    3. If Your Org receives donations, grants, or other monetary support from outside the U.S. (e.g. from Californians living abroad), it must have a written policy detailing how such support is handled, and be able to demonstrate that the policy is being followed.
    4. In no case, may Your Org accept, directly or indirectly, Material Support from an Authoritarian Regime.
  4. Must exist as a legal entity
    1. Your Org must be one of:
      1. Organized as a not-for-profit, mission-driven legal entity (e.g. a nonprofit benefit corporation, a political party, a PAC)
      2. A Chapter of such a legal entity (e.g. an independence caucus of the California Democratic Party)
      3. A Consortium of such legal entities
    2. Your Org must have its own bylaws and comply with them
    3. Your Org (or its parent(s), if it is a Chapter or Consortium) must comply with the laws relating to its legal structure, including:
      1. Making legally required filings in a timely manner
      2. Filling leadership positions required by law (e.g. minimum number of board members)
      3. Giving proper notice for meetings
    4. Your Org must comply with the laws relevant to its special tax status (or that of its parent(s)), if any.
  5. Must be transparent
    1. You Org must make publicly available, on your website:
      1. who is in Your Org’s Core Leadership, and, if applicable, when their terms in office expire
      2. your bylaws
    2. If 10% or more of Your Org’s receipts in the past year come from any one source (e.g. a donation), Your Org must publicly disclose the source and amount.
  6. Must have accountable leadership
    1. Your Org’s highest decision-making body (e.g. board of directors) must have at least three members, with equal voting power
    2. Your Org’s Core Leadership must serve for fixed terms, not to exceed four years (these may be renewed in accordance with Your Org’s bylaws)
    3. Your Org’s officers should abide by decisions made under Your Org’s bylaws
    4. It should be possible for Your Org to remove any member of your Core Leadership in a timely manner without their consent