Our History

Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative evolved from a meeting convened by the Ford Foundation in New York City in late 2000, with a small group of women from Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi who discussed their experiences working in the rural south and what might help improve the quality of life for southern, rural women.

In January 2002, a slightly expanded group of women met to form the SRBWI. A regional advisory committee, with representatives from each of the three states, is responsible for general coordination and oversight. SRBWI state lead organizations are the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama (FOCAL) in Montgomery, Alabama; The Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education in Albany, Georgia; and the Children's Defense Fund - Southern Regional Office (CDF) in Jackson, Mississippi. The CDF serves as SRBWI's fiscal agent and as regional administrator.

SRBWI operates in 77 counties across the Black Belts of Alabama, Southwest Georgia and the Mississippi Delta.

These counties are considered some of the poorest in the rural south. However the women who live there exhibit remarkable resilience and perseverance. Working with the women in these 77 counties, SRBWI will help them increase their ability to:

  • Secure employment or skills that will provide their families higher incomes
  • Identify services needed in their communities and create self- employment or small business opportunities to meet those needs
  • Develop programs to help young people and senior citizens