Southerners on New Ground (SONG)

Southerners On New Ground (SONG) is a regional Queer Liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South. SONG is a home for LGBTQ liberation across all lines of race, class, abilities, age, culture, gender, and sexuality in the South. We build, sustain, and connect a southern regional base of LBGTQ people in order to transform the region through strategic projects and campaigns developed in response to the current conditions in our communities. SONG builds this movement through leadership development, intersectional analysis, and organizing.

Since 1993, SONG has been known, both regionally and nationally, for its organizing and training work across issues of race, class, gender, culture and sexuality with both LGBTQ people and allies. We work to build and maintain a Southern LGBTQ infrastructure for organizers strong enough to combat the Southern-specific strategy of the Right to divide and conquer Southern oppressed communities using the tools of rural isolation, Right-wing Christian infrastructure, racism, environmental degradation, and economic oppression. We formed to build understanding of the connections between issues and oppressions, do multi-racial organizing, and develop strong relationships between people who could and should be allies. During our life as an organization we have learned that movement building requires grassroots organizing, leadership development, deep analysis, listening/data collection, inter-generational relationships, the linking of social movements, and good long-term planning. Some of SONG’s major accomplishments include: crafting the first-ever Southern, LGBTQ-led, traveling Organizing School for small towns and rural places all over the South; training over 100 Southern and national racial and economic justice organizations to integrate work around homophobia and transphobia into their work; holding over 50 Southern sub-regional retreats for Southern Queer People of Color; continuing to be one of the only LGBTQ organizations in the US that truly listens, responds, and represents LGBTQ folk in small towns and rural places; and in 2008 holding the largest gathering specifically for Southern LGBTQ organizers in the last 10 years.

Long-term goals of SONG are to build, drive, amplify, and support Southern inter-sectional movement work through regional capacity building, leadership development, and organizing. All of our work centers the shared interest of women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and immigrants—in who we are as SONG’s leadership and membership, and the analysis and work we create. We start at the place of lifting barriers and breaking the isolation that prevents people from participating fully in economic, social, and political life through creating an organizational home for LGBTQ Southern organizing and LGBTQ Southern people. This creates a space for Southern LGBTQ people to enter a political home: a space for understanding conditions and patterns, building analysis, and organizing. From this space, we grow the work of liberation.

Raising Expectations

For 22 years, Raising Expectations has provided impactful youth development programming for youth in Atlanta communities that include Decatur, East Lake, Pittsburgh, Vine City, English Avenue, Washington Park and the Westside of Atlanta. It is unique among out-of-school time (OST) programs in that it is longitudinal in its relationship with students. Students begin their relationship with Raising Expectations as middle school students and continue as they matriculate through secondary and embark upon their postsecondary plans. At Raising Expectations, we believe children will either live up to or down to the expectations set for them. We know for many youth living in underserved or disenfranchised communities, lack of support and positive role models can often result in poor, misguided or even damaging life choices.

As a stable alternative, we create an atmosphere of support, encouragement and broadened life experiences to prepare those with the heaviest of odds stacked against them for success. We do this by offering a wide range of programming that addresses their social, academic and mental needs. The
organization’s 360 degree approach to youth development focuses on developing underserved students from a holistic perspective which includes personal & life skills development, tutoring, mentoring, STEM
exposure, college prep and hands-on learning to improve college readiness. We also believe change happens over time and in order to help children prepare for success, we must begin working with them at a young age and continue these relationships until the completion of their academic careers.