Social Justice Institue + Programs


Democratic Philanthropy in Action

SPF launched the Social Justice Institute (SJI) as a leadership development and capacity building initiative to enhance the sustainability of grantee groups and other grassroots organizations committed to social justice in the rural South.

SJI’s framework incorporates grantmaking, organizational development, youth leadership development, culture and the arts. SJI promotes knowledge building, best practices in organizational management, and collective understanding of current and historic human rights issues in the South. SJI has several components: 

SPF also maintains a full roster of programs that focus on what the foundation deems most important, both short and long-term, toward advancing social justice in the rural South. Falling under the umbrella of SPF’s Social Justice Institute (SJI), SPF programming seeks to build capacity within rural grassroots organizations, their leaders, and the next generation of social justice warriors. Currently, SPF’s programs center on redistricting organizing, voter protection, disaster relief, and two capacity building fellowships.


SPF’s Redistricting work (ongoing) began in December, 2020 with a four-part webinar series, Drawing the Lines: Understanding Redistricting & What Communities Need to Know to Change the Narrative. This series was designed to educate communities on the importance of redistricting and the opportunities it presents for positive change, as well as how to keep these communities from getting split up in the face of gerrymandering efforts. A shared concern that communities lacked trained demographers and access to map-drawing software prompted the creation of SPF’s ‘Redistricting Cohort,’ consisting of 12 regional allies, one from each of the 12 states SPF funds. These allies have since been professionally trained to draw and present fair and equitable maps to their local redistricting committees.


Pathways to Philanthropy: Building Family Assets focuses on implementing strategies to promote community-led philanthropy through the development of donors of color in low-wealth communities. SPF embarked upon this initiative to address poverty in communities of color through a purposeful effort to create a community-led pathway to philanthropy. To date, the program has empowered more than 250 families, individuals and communities in Southwest Georgia, South Carolina, and the Mississippi Delta to take ownership of their finances and continue their journey of economic growth and re-investment in their communities. Over the past six years, the cohorts have collectively saved approximately $1.1 million.


SPF’s Election Protection work focuses on providing resources to coalitions of grassroots organizations that are working to alleviate voter suppression activities in minority and low-income communities in the 12 States. These organizations have been working collectively to further develop and enhance strategies that facilitate appropriate action against laws and practices that restrict access to the ballot box and other voter suppression activities. In addition to Election Protection, groups in Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina are dismantling and advocating against nebulous voter I.D. requirements and precinct closures.

Findings from this work are being utilized to create a model for grassroots organizing that can be used as a step-by-step guide across the Southeast region where voter suppression has become the primary means of slowly dismantling the Voting Rights Act. It is our hope that takeaways from this work can be re-applied in other areas of the country where these flagrant threats to democracy are employed


The Justice Fund for Disaster Relief and Renewal (JFDRR) was formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to provide immediate disaster relief funds, as well as funds for renewal efforts to foster reconstruction that is both just and equitable. 

It was clear that underserved communities, primarily of color and rural-based, have usually been the hardest hit and in need of the greatest support during and after natural disasters such as tornadoes, winter storms, hurricanes, and undeniably  COVID-19. 



Sustaining the racial and economic justice movement requires the continued support and cultivation of our future leaders. The Young Leaders for Social Change (YLSC) Fellowship was designed to help individuals aged 18-to-35 to become more grounded and effective leaders. This program is an opportunity for these individuals to enhance their leadership skills, learn new skills, and apply said skills in their respective communities.

An SPF membership-based YLSC committee selects 10 rural-based, aspiring leaders for the fellowship to receive a $10k grant to carry out a grassroots-organizing-oriented project that benefits their local community. The curriculum spans the history of organizing, social change, and movement building efforts, relationship building, issues, and organizational development and budgeting, and on utilizing change theories to mobilize. Projects from this past year’s class ranged from the creation of a preliminary “youth activist toolkit,” to 24/7 accessible micro pantries in Bowling Green and restorative justice-focused healing space for Black and Brown girls.

Capacity Building Fellowship

The Capacity Building Fellowship is SPF’s newest program and was designed to help strengthen grassroots organizations by helping them become grounded and even more effective leaders in their communities. This program is an opportunity for organizations to build capacity, network and implement strategies to foster long-term sustainability within their organizations, rural communities, and beyond.