Social Justice Institute and Young Leaders for Social Change

In 2009, SPF launched the Social Justice Institute (SJI) as a leadership development and capacity building program in Atlanta. Civil Rights Leader and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient the Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery delivered the keynote address. The program was established to enhance the sustainability of grantee groups and other grassroots organizations committed to under resourced individuals and communities in the South.

The Institute incorporates four primary areas into its capacity building framework: grantmaking, organizational development, youth leadership development and culture and the arts. The programs and information offered by the SJI are designed to promote knowledge building, best practices in organizational management, and increase collective understanding of historical and present civil and human rights issues in the South. The Institute is designed with several components: Peer-to-Peer coaching and networking; 1:1 organizational assessments and consulting for select community based organizations; executive coaching opportunities; regional workshops across the southeastern U.S.; a speakers’ bureau; and the signature program of the Institute includes a 2 day training that provides an experiential learning opportunity for participants at least twice per year.

Young Leaders for Social Change

SPF has also initiated the Young Leaders for Social Change (YLSC) Project that aims to increase skills, knowledge, advocacy, and civic participation among rural, young and emerging community organizers, non-profit professionals, and philanthropic practitioners, ages 18-35, which are committed to social change across the southeast region. The work of YLSC is to ensure that the unheard voices of young adult and youth leaders are heard, thus making their issues known. Through this project, SPF’s goals are to: 1) prepare young leaders as they transition into key leadership positions; 2) increase their involvement in philanthropy; and, 3) build upon an intergenerational model of civic engagement over the next 5 to 10 years.

Arts and Culture

Through the work of SPF’s Cultural Committee, we are committed to integrating and interweaving culture and the arts into all of our programs. Honoring this commitment serves as the building blocks to elevate the visibility and recognition of culture within our grantee communities. SPF recognizes that in our work for social justice there needs to be a space that emphasizes and reminds grassroots communities of what they “have,” rather than what they do not have. We understand the need for activities that lift up the roots of a community’s power and creativity. Within the work of SPF, we emphasize the expressions and the tools of culture as an important contribution to strengthening the capacity to struggle, to survive, and the energy to continue to work towards the achievement of a society that strives for equality and justice for all individuals.

We believe that a partnership between artists and grassroots communities can strengthen the creativity that exists within communities, create new tools and build a stronger sense of community. Living in and organizing out of places where great commitment, courage and creativity meet and evolve, SPF’s grantee partners have been able to find pillars of strength and a vision for a new community. Because of this, we are in a unique position to lift up the stories, strategies, and vision of our grantee community thru a partnership with artists and other cultural workers. SPF’s cultural program includes three key components: grantmaking that incorporates community organizing, capacity building and digital-story telling training