Raising $1M to support Black Southern self-determination with the Southern Power Fund

Raising $1M to support Black Southern self-determination with the Southern Power Fund

by | Jul 27, 2020

Last month, we received a call to action from four Black-led southern organizations that have anchored powerful freedom work for decades: The Highlander Center, Southerners on New Ground, Project South, and Alternate Roots. They asked foundations, donor networks, and funders across the country to move $10 million to a new Southern Power Fund by August 31. 

  • $8 million of these dollars will be redistributed to over 200 Black led organizations across the Southern region. These include organizations like AgitArte, People’s Advocacy Institute, Smile Trust, Inc., The Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, & The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS) and many many more. 
  • $2 million of these dollars will seed a community controlled fund that will resource Black, southern led organizations with eyes toward the future.

Resource Generation is answering our partners’ call; we’re challenging our network to raise $1 million to support Black Southern self-determination! And I for one can’t wait to see us meet this goal. 

Why do we need a specific focus on supporting Black southern organizing? Philanthropy & funders have persistently failed the south. The National Center for Responsive Philanthropy reports that “Between 2011 and 2015, foundations nationwide invested 56 cents per person in the South for every dollar per person they invested nationally. And they provided 30 cents per person for structural change work in the South for every dollar per person nationally. “ This difference is felt and understood by Southern organizers. Growing up and returning to Kentucky after a stint in the northeast, I found myself confronted with a powerful contradiction. I see here in my home and my region some of the most visionary leadership I have ever encountered; people and organizations who have fought for freedom under the most repressive conditions in our country, who have given the world visions and models for organizing that form the foundation of today’s Black liberation struggle. 

At the same time, I’ve seen a deep lack of trust by funders across the country in radical Black Southern leadership — and in the fundamental value and importance of organizing here. I’ve seen the results of consistent under-funding in our ability to build infrastructure and community safety, for local organizations to be able to adequately support or grow their staff, and for young revolutionary organizers to get the mentorship & development they need without leaving the places they call home. 

It is absolutely my work and the work of other young people with wealth in the South to organize our local funders, foundations, and young people with wealth to crush this contradiction and give big to this fund–and I am also calling RGers in places with more resources, more movement infrastructure, and straight-up just more money, to do your part. To quote Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Highlander Center, “‘as goes the South, so goes the nation’ isn’t an opinion; it’s a fundamental fact.” 

As y’all know, Resource Generation is also raising $5M for the Movement for Black Lives, and I want to make it clear that these two goals walk hand in hand. I have personally benefited and seen my community benefit from the powerful visionary leadership of the national Movement for Black Lives. M4BL supports local infrastructure across the country & is made up of brilliant local organizations, including ones rooted in the south, who have put forward a roadmap to abolition in our lifetimes. The mandate to fund a generation of Black Leadership includes and has been advanced by leadership in the South. And, to meet the specific and particular need to shift the paradigm of how we have funded the South, we must answer the call to support the Southern Power Fund. We’re leaning into abundance and saying yes — YES we need to joyfully resource Black liberation work in both these forms, and many more. 


So — you’re in, right? I know I am. If you want to support this fund, here’s what we need you to do:


Give* at a level that pushes you, that calls you into a lifelong commitment to building up Southern leadership. *Note that giving also includes collective tracking. Instructions to give and track are at the link above. 

2. Fundraise your community! 

Choose 5 people in your life to ask to donate, and ask them! If you’re part of an RG chapter, talk about setting a fundraising goal. 

3. Keep learning & deepening your commitments to Black-led and poor and working-class led Southern organizing work

Check out the resources below to get started. 

Further reading and resources:

As the South Goes, published by Grantmakers for Southern Progress

On Being Black, Southern And Rural In The Time Of COVID-19 by Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

Covid-19 in the Rural South

The Grapevine: A Southern Trans Report from SONG: English Version, Spanish Version

Rednecks for Black Lives by Beth Howard

The Southern Movement Assembly Resource Page