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Democratic Philanthropy

In October 1994, the Bert and Mary Meyer Foundation organized SPF’s founding members who had a vision of instituting social change through a system of democratic philanthropy governed by grassroots community leaders. The 18 grassroots organizers and leaders who crafted SPF’s mission, purpose, and structural model recognized how historical and institutionalized discrimination systemically oppressed their communities. After four years of convening and dialogue between BAMMF and southern organizers, Southern Partners Fund was formally incorporated in 1998.
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Southern Partners Fund Announces New Leadership Team



Southern Partners Fund is pleased to announce its new leadership team. The Board has chosen Mr. Fernando Cuevas, Jr. to serve as its Executive Director, and Ms. Tamieka White as Assistant Director.


Cuevas has been with SPF since its inception in 1998, and has served in every capacity, as a founding member, board member and staff member. Prior to this appointment, Cuevas served as Leadership Development Coordinator for SPF where he was chiefly responsible for overseeing all aspects of Membership training and development. He also assisted in the design, implementation and evaluation of SPF’s Social Justice Institute.  


Cuevas was born in Fostoria, Ohio to the parents of Mexican Migrant Farm Workers. He grew up as a migrant farm worker in the orange fields of Florida, later migrating with his parents to work in tomato and cucumber fields in Ohio.  Cuevas’ experience as a migrant worker inspired him to become an activist for migrant workers’ rights, including advocating for just wages, improved safety conditions and other related to the health of workers. His experience as a field organizer for the AFL-CIO dates back to 1987. While organizing for the labor union, he trained farmworkers in the skills of organizing and boycotting for equal rights.  A highly experienced and effective negotiator, Cuevas was instrumental in arbitrating for rights between farmers and Campbell Soup, Heinz, Vlasic, Green Bay and Mt. Olive Corporation. For his hard work, he was awarded the Bannerman Fellowship, a yearlong paid fellowship award that honors outstanding activists.


Tamieka White, a native of Georgetown, South Carolina, joined SPF in 2010 as Program Officer and was responsible for program administration and grants management. In her new position as Assistant Director she will work closely with the Board and Executive Director to support the overall efforts of SPF, support and implement the organizations’ fundraising plans and manage the grant making process.


Prior to joining SPF, White served as Executive Director of Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods (NBN) in Winston-Salem, NC. NBN is a grassroots non-profit whose mission encourages civic accountability and engagement while supporting grassroots led efforts to develop safe, interdependent, diverse and overall healthy neighborhoods. She has more than 12 years of combined knowledge and leadership experience in philanthropy and the non-profit sector.  White is a graduate of the College of Charleston in South Carolina.


The board and membership of Southern Partners Fund is excited about the direction of our new leadership. Fernando and Tamieka bring with them an understanding about how to work across lines of difference, the vision and energy of their generation and over 25 years of collective leadership in organizational development, community organizing and fundraising. This is a new era for Southern Partners Fund.


SPF was founded in 1998 by a coalition of 18 grassroots community organizers with the belief that it is the birthright of every American to enjoy basic rights, privileges and a quality of life; to be preserved and create a legacy for future generations.  SPF believes that the full promise of democracy in the American South is thwarted by the persistence of deeply rooted social injustices. SPF acts as a catalyst in the civil and human rights movement, and encourages and fosters grassroots leadership through social justice philanthropy.


Since 1998 SPF has served more than 200 rural community groups in 12 of the southeastern United States, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. These groups represent diverse, disenfranchised people in the south from all racial/ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientation.







SPF Core Beliefs and Values
SPF is increasing the power of community organizers and our grantees throughout the rural South to distribute resources and knowledge in support of social justice.

Advancing Social Change in the Rural South

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