Grantmakers for Southern Progress



NFG is pleased to share some exciting news about the growth of Grantmakers for Southern Progress and plans to deepen its impact by planting organizational roots in the South.

Grantmakers for Southern Progress had its genesis in 2009. In its early years, GSP and Neighborhood Funders Group decided to formally partner in order to bridge relationships between southern and national social change-oriented funders. In partnership over the last four years, both entities have benefitted greatly. GSP’s national profile has become well-established, and NFG’s capacity and networks in the South have grown and deepened.

GSP has a growing, diverse and expanded base of partners that include national foundations, regional foundations, labor unions, individual donors and community foundations. Over the last few years, GSP has directly facilitated new investments in the South of nearly $3.1 million dollars. The growth and momentum spurred by GSP’s efforts to organize funders around an agenda for southern progress was evident at GSP’s April funder 2017 gathering in Charleston, SC. It was GSP’s first large regional convening, with 127 GSP members representing 82 national and regional foundations coming together with regional leaders to share and discuss the opportunities, challenges and best strategies for supporting structural change and advancing progress in the South. 

At this point in GSP’s development, it is clear that GSP has to not only be about the South, but of the South – and the best way for GSP to do this is to be geographically based in the South. We are pleased to announce that GSP has chosen the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta as its new institutional home. 

Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the Southern Education Foundation’s (SEF) mission of advancing equity and excellence in education for all students in the South, particularly low income students and students of color, aligns seamlessly with GSP’s focus on racial and gender equity as key indicators of progress in the South. SEF sees this partnership with GSP as a real opportunity to work with and through the philanthropic community to increase collaboration and coordination among stakeholders in the region; increase ability of stakeholders to engage in meaningful cross-sector engagement; and leverage national support for Southern-led efforts.

NFG is excited about GSP’s next steps as it becomes a Southern-based entity, and is looking forward to an ongoing strategic partnership with GSP and SEF that inspires philanthropy to bolder action in promoting racial justice and equity in the South.

For more information about GSP, please write to

About GSP

In the post-Civil Rights Movement era, there has been a debate in progressive circles over the importance of the South in advancing the cause for social justice in the US. More often than not, the debate resulted in the functional de-prioritization and under-investment in a Southern social justice infrastructure by progressives at the national level, including foundations.

GSP is a philanthropic solutions hub that builds, aligns, and leverages resources and learning for strategic structural change efforts in the South. 

GSP is structured as a funder working group, comprised of Southern and national funders who are committed to advancing progress in the outcomes, conditions, and opportunities for those who are least well off socially, economically, and politically in the South.

GSP achieves this vision, through:

  1. Supporting investments in strengthened and expanded infrastructure for structural change in the South
  2. Developing a greatly expanded body of Southern and national funders committed to substantial, long-term, strategic and coordinated investments in the structural change work in the South, as evidenced by
    • National funders spending more in the South
    • National funders better partnering with Southern funders towards coordinated investments
    • Southern funders finding national partners with whom to engage, better leveraging their investments
    • Southern funders increasing their investments in structural change

Funders with an interest in these goals are encouraged to join GSP

Led by a Steering Committee of national and regional funders, GSP has worked on two fronts. The first is a research effort called As the South Goes, and GSP released two reports from this work in early 2013. This was followed by a whirlwind dissemination strategy that included briefings at the Association of Black Foundation Executives, EDGE Funders Alliance, Public Interest Projects Donor Briefing, Southeastern Council on Foundations, the NC Network of Grantmakers, Mississippi Association of Grantmakers. Bay Area Justice Funders Network, Funders Network on Population and Reproductive Rights and a NY Briefing at Open Societies Foundation – cosponsored with the Ford Foundation and Ms. Foundation.

The second front for GSP’s work has been a Southern Social Justice Dialogue Series, kicked off at the Neighborhood Funders Group 2011 conference with a session called: The Miner’s Canary: The South and the Fate of the Nation. Events in 2012 in this series included webinars and conference sessions on immigration rights and on civic engagement with partners at NFG, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrant Refugees, Funders' Committee for Civic Participation, and others.  In 2013, GSP co-hosted a 2-day Mississippi Delta Learning Tour with the Working Group on Labor and Community Partnerships and sponsored multiple sessions at the 2013 NFG Convening in Jackson, MS.

In 2014, our activity centered on a leadership retreat and strategic planning for GSP’s work going forward as we shift from a focus on educating the field about the South to a more active strategy as a philanthropic hub for the region.

Learn more on our Programming page and the GSP Facebook page, where we share upcoming events and news of relevance to funders concerned with the region as a whole.