With the organizing landscape forever changed, grantees rose from the ashes, fervently committed to the liberation of our people—now more than ever.Cecilia Sáenz Becerra
Liberation Fund and Special Projects Program Officer
Securing and Expensing Liberties
Liberation Fund grantees represent some of the most effective and powerful grassroots organizing efforts in the United States today.
Most recently, when the state failed to provide safety, guidance, and support to communities impacted by COVID-19, Groundswell Fund’s Liberation Fund grantees stepped in to provide critical support to its members and communities of color at large through organizing, advocacy, and mutual aid programs.
In fact, these moments of rupture catapulted Liberation Fund grantees towards increased membership and tremendous wins that they have been fighting for—for years.
We’ve Been At The Intersection, And Plan To Stay
Groundswell Fund (GF) has been in the work of supporting women and transgender and gender-expansive (TGE) people of color since its inception in 2000.
The Liberation Fund was established in 2016 and works in partnership with Groundswell Action Fund to consistently move over a million dollars into the field. GF’s Blueprint plans to increase that number to $1.5 Million by 2026.
SONG: unleashing 501(c)(4) and collective power
Founded in 1993, Southerners on New Ground (SONG) is a political home for LGBTQ liberation across lines of race, class, abilities, age, culture, gender, and sexuality in the southern U.S. To sharpen the impact of its training, leadership development, education, advocacy, and organizing, SONG launched a 501(c)4, SONG Power, in early 2020.
Also, in 2020, SONG made moves on issues. They continued their #EndMoneyBail and #MeltIce campaigns, which encompass cities, small towns, and rural areas across the South, to end pretrial, wealth-based detention, and demand that municipalities divest from cages, courts, and police and invest in community-based solutions. This was made possible by their successful pivot of in-person strategies and programs to digital and virtual platforms in response to pressures of the pandemic.
These campaigns expanded into six new cities, with SONG helping to drive mainstream and social media communications strategy while launching local organizing efforts in two additional cities, and organizing to ensure that 2,000 incarcerated people in Atlanta, Durham, Columbus, and Nashville were registered to vote.
But SONG didn’t stop there: through trainings, technical assistance, and a fellowship cohort, they also built the leadership of youth, women, LGBTQ people, Black people, immigrants, and other people of color in the fights for criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, and policy change in the South, and increased its formal membership by nearly 1,000 people.
They also collaborated with other movements to increase the power of Southern and LGBTQ leaders in strategic racial, gender, and economic justice coalitions and initiatives, SONG strengthened relationships with people of color-led organizations in eight cities, and ensured that Southern perspectives informed the National Bailout Collective and grounded Mijente’s Abolish ICE campaign in the region.
Thanks to its leadership in the Georgia Movement for Black Lives, SONG was on the ground in Atlanta during the uprisings.
In 2021, SONG continued its #EndMoneyBail and #MeltIce campaigns in 11 new cities and towns, engaging at least 300 members in each and winning an end to money bail in five localities. It will continue to add new members, develop new member-leaders, train another cohort of ten Southern LGBTQ Fellows, and, through its Lorde’s Werq program, train new Black trans and queer organizers, moving most of them into leadership roles in organizations and campaigns across the South.
Finally, SONG will continue its powerful use of cultural organizing strategies and tactics, and leveraging those tactics in all of its on-the-ground organizing and political theatre in at least five communities.