SRDI helps build the region’s community economic development infrastructure, focusing primarily on CDCs, community-based philanthropies, and the Southeastern Organizational Development Initiative:
Community development corporations (CDCs) are effective vehicles for building locally-owned assets in poor communities. Strong CDCs help change the configuration of power in a community—expanding the table to include both poor and minority leaders in decisions about development. Strong CDCs, however, are few and far between in much of the rural South, largely due to sparse philanthropic and public support.
SRDI believes that four elements are essential to building a sustainable infrastructure of CDCs in the region:
- A statewide trade association that raises public and private resources for the entire CDC network in the state and provides relevant training, technical assistance and networking opportunities for local CDCs;
- Private partners including foundations, banks and leading corporate citizens;
- Public partners including the legislature and state agencies; and
- Statewide advocacy organizations focused, for example, on minority businesses, community reinvestment and sustainable development.
Our work involves supporting state CDC associations in the region, helping to develop public-private partnerships in Alabama and rural Georgia, and building the capacity to engage in CRA advocacy.
At its best, philanthropy is seed capital for social innovation and community-building. SRDI’s partner philanthropies are democratic. Instead of top-down largesse, they offer partnerships between donors and community builders. All contributions are valued, and leaders from grantee communities help set policy and guide contributions. Our philanthropies are bringing people together across the fault lines of race and class.
Some of SRDI’s associates are very much like community foundations, and raise money primarily from individual donors, both small and large givers. Others are federations of non-profits that combine their efforts to raise gifts at the workplace through employee payroll deduction programs.
These democratic philanthropies are working with SRDI to:
- Attract common investment in their growth;
- Learn from each other about asset development, donor involvement and grantmaking;
- Advocate for expanded commitment to distressed rural communities
by the larger southern philanthropic community.