California and the American South have much in common. They’re both economic powerhouses. They’re both engines of culture, literature and film. And they’re both dynamos of resistance, from the mayor of Oakland’s recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid warning, to today’s Southern youth pioneering movements like their forebears did half a century ago.
Yet philanthropy has built few bridges between these two regions. This gulf constrains our country’s progress. That’s why, as part of our As the South Grows initiative, NCRP, Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP) and Solutions Project hosted two “South Meets West” funder briefings last month in California.
The first event took place with Northern California Grantmakers in San Francisco at the James Irvine Foundation.
The second took place in downtown Los Angeles.
California-based community foundations, private foundations, rapid response funds and individual donors met with Southern foundations, nonprofit leaders and community organizers from across the South.
Tyler Nickerson kicked things off by sharing why, as a progressive funder, Solutions Project believes in funding the grassroots in both regions.
NCRP Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer Jeanné Isler and GSP Co-Chair and Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation Program Director Lavastian Glenn shared highlights from NCRP and GSP’s As the South Grows series.
Southern leaders shared how the road to national progress runs through the South. They included Stephanie Guilloud from Project South in Atlanta, Dr. Jennie Stephens from the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation in South Carolina and Peter Hille from the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Kentucky (all NCRP nonprofit members).
We strategized together and told stories together.
We even went to happy hour together.
People left with commitments to move money, make phone calls and visit the South in person.
And we left inspired with what can happen when the South and California partner together.
These events were a first step. True change in the philanthropic relationship between the South and California will take long-term relationships, as well as a willingness to risk our comfort with the status quo. Here at NCRP, we’re excited to roll up our sleeves.
To learn how you can get involved with NCRP, GSP and As the South Grows, contact Ben Barge at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tamieka Mosley at email@example.com.
Ben Barge is senior associate for learning and engagement at NCRP. Follow @NCRP on Twitter.