Southern Reconstruction Fund

Managing Partners: Dorian Burton and Napoleon Wallace

From 1863-1877, the US government took steps to integrate the nation’s newly freed Black population into society.  While this period of Reconstruction attempted to change the very terms of American democracy by extending the franchise and civil rights to African American men, it aspired to something more—land reform, economic democracy, and the remaking of the American polity around the principles of racial equality and inclusion . The withdrawal of federal troops from the South in 1877 did more than just end Reconstruction; it effectively ensured that racial hierarchy would survive slavery’s abolition. It fueled racial terror lynchings, legally codified segregation, and our mass incarceration crisis. The disastrous effects of slavery and the toxic aftermath of a country fractured by hatred have shaped the region and perpetuated deep suffering. Until we address these wounds, not just with empathy but with action, the full promise of America will remain unfulfilled .

The Fund 
The Southern Reconstruction Fund (SRF) is the only social impact fund exclusively committed to finally righting that wrong, strengthening the American South and transforming communities most affected by racial injustice and systemic inequity into beacons of health and prosperity. Founded by the next generation of community development leaders dedicated to justice and building a better South, SRF was created to achieve equity in an environment where other organizations are retrofitting their missions and activities to accommodate it. This means that every decision including who we hire, the partners from which we procure goods and services, who we recruit to our board, and major investment decisions will be based on how it moves these communities forward. It targets communities that have demonstrated endless amounts of ingenuity and capability but are encumbered by the institutionalized legacy of slavery and racism. Despite conditions still working against them, these BIPOC communities have built world-class colleges and universities, vibrant faith-based organizations, and self-reliant financial institutions. 
Proximate Leadership
Proximate leadership will be at the center of everything SRF does. Our core belief is that communities have the leadership, brilliance, experience, relationships, knowledge, trust, and accountability to develop solutions that will have sustainable, long term impact. The SRF team will ask permission to engage with a community and relinquish funding decision-making to local coalitions of community leaders representing faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and local governments. These coalitions will be led by anchor institutions—usually HBCUs—that will set in motion the initiatives that will affect their communities. In our work, who has power, how the process unfolds, and the types of funding deployed all aim to put communities in control of their own destinies and establish a foundation for sustained change. 
Restorative Capital and Transformative Investments in Places 
As was true during Reconstruction, substantial and consistent capital investment is needed to create a solid footing for building prosperity. A necessary component in this footing is an ecosystem-level capital strategy that strengthens and accelerates the native  institutions  dedicated  to  building the social, political, financial, psychological, human, and intellectual  capital  of  our  communities. Such an approach requires grants, equity and broader mission-related (MRI) and program-related investment (PRI) strategies that enable community serving institutions to receive and deploy investment capital in scalable ways and communities to have access to ready, opportunistic and potentially transformational capital. 
SRF’s Restorative Capital model was built to do just that and to challenge common practices that rely on giving short term, small to medium-sized grants to nonprofit institutions and extractive, predatory, and undercapitalized private investments to capital starved leaders of color and communities. Our substantial, patient and flexible Restorative Capital Commitments to  communities will enable them to use the financial tool that best suits the circumstances —from philanthropic grants and program-related investments (PRIs) to market rate equity and debt, especially as conditions change over time. Among other benefits they will model the use of non-extractive repayment terms and collateral positions, document the benefits gained from balancing the scales of economic control, and include more stakeholders in decision-making.