Grantmakers for Southern Progress had its genesis in 2010. 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. Through the partnership, both entities benefitted greatly, and GSP’s national profile became well-established.
GSP has a growing, diverse and expanded base of partners that include national foundations, regional foundations, funder affinity groups, individual donors, and community foundations. Over the last few years, GSP has directly facilitated new investments in the South of nearly $3.1 million.
The growth and momentum spurred by GSP’s efforts to organize funders around an agenda for southern progress was evident at GSP’s funder gathering in Charleston, South Carolina, in April 2017.
More than 120 GSP members participated, representing 82 national and regional foundations. Attendees learned from regional leaders who shared and discussed the opportunities, challenges, and best strategies for supporting structural change and advancing progress in the South.
At this point in GSP’s development, it was 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. In 2017, GSP moved its operations to Atlanta and named Southern Education Foundation 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.