SECF's Blog

Engage, SECF’s blog, is a space for SECF members, staff and partners to share their thoughts on the latest trends and best practices in philanthropy. Engage is also used for important announcements about upcoming SECF events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.

SECF Staff Highlight: Carlos Peralta

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


SECF has a long history of bringing on a summer intern from Emory University’s Ethics and Servant Leadership program – a history interrupted last year by the COVID pandemic.

This summer, however, the program resumed with Carlos Peralta, a recent Emory graduate who has supported the SECF staff throughout the summer. While there have been no in-person programs to attend, Carlos has worked closely with SECF’s membership team on recruitment and retention efforts, along with research projects. He’s also been able to interact with the entire SECF team by attending virtual staff meetings throughout his internship.

Carlos said his experience with SECF has brought him much closer to the world of philanthropy than he would have expected a few years ago.

“Growing up, philanthropy seemed like an end goal, an aspiration, something unattainable, something reserved for the wealthy,” he said. “I have always wanted to contribute back to my community, as I have been fortunate to have people and organizations that have helped me in my journey so far. I find the feeling of helping others very rewarding. Whether directly or indirectly, I believed I could find this opportunity at SECF.”

As part of his internship, Carlos has had the opportunity to meet virtually with SECF members, including staff at the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and the Community Foundation of South Georgia – he said learning about the inner workings of community foundations was one of the most surprising things about his time at SECF.

“One of the most exciting and interesting things that I learned is the various types of gifts that community foundations can accept,” Carlos said. “Community foundations often get offered pretty bizarre gifts such as lands, copyrights, arts, patent payments, and other assets!”

Along with learning about some of the quirks of the field, Carlos said he’s also gained an appreciation for the hard work of community foundations in some of the region’s more rural areas.

“Unlike large urban areas like Atlanta, most nonprofits in the Southeast are not as well known or established,” he said. “Community foundations have to look for the right organizations where the funds would have the most impact.”

Like many people fresh out of college, Carlos, who studied economics and Italian, hasn’t yet made up his mind on what he’ll do now that he’s out of school. Still, he feels very fortunate as a first-generation college graduate from a family of immigrants.

“I began working when I was 10 years old. While plenty of kids my age were on vacation somewhere, my summers ranged from planting and picking vegetables in fields, working under hazardous conditions in the construction industry, and working as a housekeeper staff in a hotel,” he said. “I am actually grateful for my upbringing as it has shown me the things that really matter, such as family.”

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Summer 2021 Issue of Inspiration Magazine Now Available!

Tags: Inspiration 
Category: Announcements, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


SECF members now have access to the latest issue of Inspiration, SECF’s quarterly magazine dedicated to sharing stories of philanthropy’s impact in communities across the region. Here’s what you can look forward to in the latest issue:

  • A look at a partnership between the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the Southern Poverty Law Center to help boost voter turnout and ballot access in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
  • In Arkansas, leaders at three different foundations have built a new collaborative organization that is not only connecting Black philanthropic leaders with one another, but also helping direct support to Black-serving and Black-led nonprofits.
  • Foundations are working to promote active and engaged communities by supporting local media, which has struggled to survive amid consolidation in the industry and competition from the internet.
  • A Q&A interview with Jessie Ball duPont Fund President Mari Kuraishi, who reflects on her experiences since stepping into her role two years ago.

Each issue of Inspiration also includes a message from SECF President & CEO Janine Lee, a review of new staff and trustees in the region, and an introduction to our latest members.

A copy of Inspiration is mailed to each of our member offices. You can also access a PDF of the issue by logging in to!

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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Heather McGhee

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Heather McGhee will be a familiar face to many when she takes the stage to close SECF’s 52nd Annual Meeting – and not only because she’s been a frequent presence on news programs as one of the country’s leading voices on racial and economic inequality.

Last October, hundreds of SECF members attended a virtual town hall that featured McGhee, who offered a preview of what she learned in the course of writing her bestselling book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.

While the effects of racism are usually discussed in terms of education, housing, health care and other bedrock issues, McGhee brings people into her argument with something a bit easier to grasp: public swimming pools.

McGhee opened her SECF town hall appearance by noting that when local communities across the country were ordered to desegregate their public swimming pools, officials decided they’d rather not have a pool at all than allow Black and white children to swim together.

“This fight to just have this core piece of infrastructure together, to just play together, ended up revealing that many of the massive public investments that helped shape American prosperity in the 20th century… were furnished at the first instance on a whites-only basis,” McGhee said in October. “So the question that we have right now is are we still in the bottom of a drained pool?”


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Public Policy Update - July 2021

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at


Upcoming Member Webinar on the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act  


Join us at 3:00pm ET on Tuesday, July 27, for a special public policy Member Webinar on the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, legislation introduced last month that would make significant changes to laws governing the work of private foundations and donor-advised funds (DAFs).

Our webinar will review the major provisions of the legislation and what its provisions could mean for donor-advised funds and different types of foundations. We’ll also discuss the prospects for the legislation in Washington.

Joining us will be Sandra Swirski, Sara Barba and other members of the Philanthropy Team at Urban Swirski & Associates, a leading bipartisan Washington, D.C., advocacy firm. 

For more details on the ACE Act and its provisions, read the item below!


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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Wes Moore

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Not many people are invited to speak at three SECF Annual Meetings in less than a decade, but not many people have a story like Wes Moore.

In 2014, Moore riveted the 45th Annual Meeting audience in New Orleans as he shared not only his own life story, but that of “the other Wes Moore” – a man with the same name, and only a few years older. As boys, both grew up in Baltimore, lost their fathers early, and had some run-ins with the law. But while one Wes Moore went on to be a Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Army veteran, the other was drawn into a life of crime and is now in prison following a murder conviction.

Moore attributed his success in life largely to the strong network of support that surrounded him, one his counterpart lacked. 

“Starting with my mom and my grandparents would lead me to this amazing stream of role models and mentors and supporters and philanthropists and deans and people who were able to help me understand that the world was much bigger than what was just directly in front of me,” he said in 2014 during his Closing Keynote. “In essence, what they did was they taught me what it meant to be free.”

He also said people are products of their own expectations – but that society, including philanthropy, has a role to play in elevating those expectations.

“Expectations aren’t born from nowhere. The expectations that people have of themselves come from the expectations that other people have of them, and they just simply internalize them and make them their own,” he said. “We are a nation of self-fulfilling prophecies.”

In 2017, at the 48th Annual Meeting in Orlando, Moore once again spoke – this time he was joined by his mother, Joy Thomas Moore, at a session for Hull Fellows alumni. The mother and son duo provided insights on their relationship and the importance of strong families and communities while also discussing Moore’s second book, The Work, which focuses on finding meaning in one’s professional life.

Moore hasn’t slowed down since his last Annual Meeting appearance. He recently stepped down as CEO of Robin Hood Foundation after four years leading the organization’s work to target poverty in New York City. In June, he announced his candidacy for Maryland governor.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, Moore won’t be discussing politics. He will, however, be sure to provide a dose of inspiration as SECF continues its work to promote courageous leadership in philanthropy and build an equitable South.

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What's New at the SECF Lending Library

Author: Stephen Sherman


By Stephen Sherman

We’ve recently expanded our Lending Library to include the titles below and much more. SECF members have exclusive access to our virtual collection offering e-books and audiobooks on best practices in philanthropy, advancing equity, and social sector leadership. Visit our website to get started today! 


Read Up On Our Annual Meeting Speakers

Get ready for the SECF 52nd Annual Meeting with these titles by our opening and closing keynote speakers, Wes Moore and Heather McGhee. 








The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore. Wes just couldn’t shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen?


The Work: Searching for a Life that Matters by Wes Moore

The Work is the story of how one young man traced a path through the world to find his life’s purpose. Wes Moore graduated from a difficult childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore to an adult life that would find him at some of the most critical moments in our recent history: as a combat officer in Afghanistan; a White House fellow in a time of wars abroad and disasters at home; and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. In this insightful book, Moore shares the lessons he learned from people he met along the way – from the brave Afghan translator who taught him to find his fight, to the resilient young students in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi who showed him the true meaning of grit, to his late grandfather, who taught him to find grace in service.


The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy – and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out? McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm – the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others.


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Member Highlight: Mari Kuraishi

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This week's Member Highlight will also run in the upcoming issue of our Inspiration magazine, arriving at member offices and on later this month!

Just over two years ago, Mari Kuraishi moved from leading philanthropy on a global scale to taking the reins at one of the region’s most prominent place-based funders, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund in Jacksonville, Florida. As Mari prepares to take the stage during SECF’s 52nd Annual Meeting, we checked in with her to discuss how she’s brought her own vision to the Fund during an incredibly eventful, unpredictable time.


You joined the Jessie Ball duPont Fund as president in early 2019. After more than two years with the Fund, what are you most proud of?

Shortly after joining the Fund, the City of Jacksonville asked me to get engaged in the work they were doing to design and build a park commemorating native sons James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson and their “Negro National Anthem” Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, specifically to ensure that the process would engage key community stakeholders. Fast forward to today: We have designed the park, shared the design with the public to great positive response, and plan to complete it by the Jacksonville Bicentennial in 2022. The thing I am most proud of is a letter I got last month from one of the key advocates for the park. I had written him a letter after a ceremonial groundbreaking we hosted at the site, thanking him for his tireless efforts. He wrote back to say, “I worked on the Johnson Brothers project for 12 years and so many people told me I was wasting my time and efforts. When I met you, you told me it would be done.” I can’t tell you how gratifying that was.


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Data Sharing Made Easy

Author: Erin Baird


If there was something easy that you could do to improve the quality and availability of grant data for your region, would you do it? Well, there is. You can become an eReporter with Candid and share your giving data with grantees, other funders, and the public. This data is fed into resources such as the Southern Trends Report, Candid’s many pop-up resource pages, and interactive platforms such as Foundation Maps, which visually displays over 22 million grants from over 158,000 foundations mapped by geographic location. 

Allegany Franciscan Ministries has been an eReporter since 2013. The process is easy. Candid has a template of the information they are looking for. This includes fields like organization name, recipient address, project description and grant amount. At Allegany, we use a report template Foundant created for us specifically for eReporting. Twice a year, we simply adjust the reporting dates, run the report and review it prior to sharing the information with Candid. It’s that easy.

As a benefit of sharing our grant data, we receive free access to our organization’s foundation map. Our updated foundation map helps grantseekers and other funders learn about our work. Take a look at ours here. We share our map on our website and use this tool to communicate how we are meeting our mission of being a compassionate and transforming, healing presence within our communities. If you are interested in sharing your work with the broader philanthropic community, consider being an eReporter for Candid.

Learn more about sharing your grants data by visiting the SECF website here. For details on how eReporting works, see this new how-to-guide from Candid. 

Already an eReporter? Be sure to submit your FY2020 grants data by June 30!

Erin Baird is director of grants at Allegany Franciscan Ministries.

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Register today for SECF's 52nd Annual Meeting!

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


November 10-12, 2021 | Asheville, North Carolina + Virtual
Two Ways to Attend!
Join Us in Asheville
Join Us Online
Registration for the 2021 Annual Meeting is now open
Note: In-person registration is limited this year - keep reading to learn how we are ensuring a safe and healthy Annual Meeting open to as many of our members as possible!


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Public Policy Update - June 2021

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at


Infrastructure Talks Continue, But Bipartisan Compromise Seems Unlikely

In previous Public Policy Updates, we detailed the provisions of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. Since then, both measures have been the subject of prolonged negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans aimed at producing a bipartisan agreement.

While President Biden met today with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the Senate GOP’s lead negotiator on the package, an agreement still seems unlikely. Both sides have moved somewhat from their earliest positions, but they are still separated by more than a trillion dollars.

Pressure is growing from congressional Democrats to abandon hope for a bipartisan deal and forge ahead with a larger package more in tune with Biden’s original proposals. Passing such a bill would require the use of the fast-track reconciliation process employed for the COVID relief bill signed into law earlier this year.

While the American Jobs Plan is focused primarily on physical infrastructure and public works, the American Families Plan includes funding to boost many parts of the social safety net, including education, health care and childcare.


Prospects for Big Legislation Dim After Manchin Reiterates Filibuster Support

Since securing control of the Senate in January, Democrats had hoped to leverage their narrow majorities to pass significant legislation related to voting rights, climate change, health care and a host of other issues.

Advancing bills on any of these topics would have required weakening or eliminating the Senate filibuster, which effectively sets a 60-vote threshold for most legislation – the reconciliation process used for tax and spending legislation is a notable exception.

Any changes to the filibuster would require the support of all 50 Senate Democrats. Over the weekend, however, one of them signaled any change was off the table.

Writing in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) argued members of his party have demonized the filibuster, which he wrote can “make absolute power difficult while still delivering solutions to the issues facing our country.”

In expressing support for the filibuster, Manchin also indicated he would vote against a voting rights package due to its lack of Republican support. However, he still supports another bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, that would restore some parts of the Voting Rights Act nullified by the Supreme Court in 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder decision.

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.