May 5, 2017

Recap: 2017 Grantmakers for Southern Progress Spring Convening

In bayous, hollers, cities, and small towns across the American South, visionary leaders have long pioneered cutting edge, successful strategies to build lasting change in their communities and beyond. These leaders have the skills and expertise necessary to navigate an inclusive way forward for everyone in this era of unprecedented political, economic, and demographic shifts. Yet philanthropy—for reasons both mundane and profound—hasn't kept up. How can Southern and national philanthropists alike change this trend and help advance progress in the region and the nation overall?

On April 5-7, 2017, Grantmakers for Southern Progress hosted a funder gathering in Charleston, SC, for GSP members, national and regional foundations, and regional leaders to share and discuss the opportunities, challenges and best strategies for supporting structural change and advancing progress in the South.

The gathering created a mutual learning opportunity for national funders and regional leaders to exchange ideas and experiences about strategies for developing a shared understanding of progress in the region, approaches for supporting structural change, and best practices for achieving equitable outcomes. Learning from the field and each other to help inform and shape their collective understanding, participants deepened their knowledge on the opportunities and promises of South Carolina and the region.

To learn more about the plenaries, learning circles, and community learning tours that were held at this convening, you can access the program here.

"Fresh ideas, bold leadership, and strategic collaborations are needed to help move this work forward. The time is now. The place is here. Let's get to work—together."

— Darrin Goss, Sr., President & CEO, Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina 

As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil

During the three-day gathering, GSP launched its long-awaited As the South Grows research report and collaborative campaign in conjunction with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). This report is designed to provide philanthropists with the perspective and tools to partner effectively with high-performing, under-recognized Southern leaders on the front-lines of change.

This is the first installment of a four-part investigative research and resource report series around place-based strategies for supporting structural change in the South. The goal of the project is to increase the amount and sustainability of funding from local and regional Southern funders, as well as from national funders, to improve the quality of life and increase the power of marginalized communities in the South.

In this first report, we elevate the stories and perspectives of four nonprofit leaders in the Deep South—Alabama and Mississippi specifically. Esther Calhoun, Kenneth Glasgow, Ivye Allen and Carol Burnett are working hard for racial, social and economic justice against strong opposition and, in a few cases, with little philanthropic investment. They, and their colleagues, face well-organized and well-resourced opposition to self-determination for communities of color, poor communities, immigrant communities, women and others. 

Click here to learn more and download the report.


Photos & Social Media

Please stay connected and join us on social media to keep the conversation, momentum, and sharing experiences about how progress in South Carolina and the South is going. Friend GSP on Facebook and tag us on Twitter @SouthernGrants and with #FundSouth.

Additionally, you can access all of the uploaded photos that were taken on the first, second, and third days of the convening, including the Charleston learning tours. Please feel free to download the photos to use for your institution's social media and/or share the experience with your networks.


A special thank you to our regional and national funders for participating and supporting our efforts to build relationships, share our learnings, and advance progress in the South through increasing support for structural change:

  • Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina
  • Ford Foundation
  • Hill-Snowdon Foundation
  • Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Marguerite Casey Foundation
  • Ms. Foundation for Women
  • National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
  • The Four Freedoms Fund
  • The Kendeda Fund
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Solutions Project
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