Partners for Change: What am I Getting Into?

Tufara Waller Muhammad (lead site visitor and co-curriculm developer of Partners in Action) facilitates the 2017 Partners in Action Cohort Meeting. Photo: Jasmine Roberts. 

About Alternate ROOTS 

What is Partners for Change?

The Award

Why ROOTS Values Partnership

The Benefit of Being in a ROOTS Partnership

For information on Partners for Change eligibility requirements, click here; for information on how to apply click here




ROOTS work focuses on the South – a region rich with artists and cultural organizers working towards social justice. Ours is a region facing great inequities, and it is a region with a great depth of Civil Rights history and organizing practice to draw upon. ROOTS supports Southern artists and cultural organizers and creates opportunities to learn from peers, to organize, and to advocate. For more on ROOTS mission and history, click here.


Partners for Change is an artist support program where ROOTS invests deeply into strengthening the network of artists, communities, regional, and national partnerships in support of a progressive southern movement led by people of color artists, collectives, and organizations. The program is a manifestation of our strategic commitment to ending racism and other oppressions through catalytic investments in artists and cultural organizers in the South.

ROOTS is committed to materially improving the circumstances of low-wealth artists in the South, and particularly work led by artists of color. Artist(s)-led partnerships may include social services organizations, arts and cultural presenting organizations, a group of teachers, neighborhood and community associations, an extended family, or a group organized around an issue, cause, or concern. Our goal is to support proposals that are culturally rooted, clear in their objectives, and creative in their approaches. Partners for Change offers support and resources needed for cultural workers and organizations to build their capacity to work more strategically towards a more just world.

Partners for Change funds social justice partnerships in grassroots communities throughout ROOTS’ fourteen state region in the U.S. South. Our region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.


ROOTS will award 6 Partnerships with an award of $25,000 per year over a 3-year partnership, totalling $75,000 in direct cash. The partner must dedicate at least 15% of funds ($3,750/year; $11,250 over three years) to self-determined creative, financial, physical, and/or spiritual health needs. You may apply for a range of support including $25,000 per year in funding, in addition to technical support and services valued at $25,000 per year. This will include documentation – including writing brownpapers – fiscal sponsorship, cohort learning, artist/community exchanges, and other means to catalyze movement-scale change.

Successful applications will demonstrate a strong, committed partnership between the applicants and their partner(s), clarity of intent, and thoughtful goals and objectives. The project goals should reflect what works best for all partners, and how every partner equally shares in shaping the project outcomes.

Ashley Walden Davis facilitating the 2015 Partners in Action cohort meeting in Eatonville, FL. Photo: Ariston Jacks.


ROOTS aims to be an organization that is a formidable network of artists and cultural workers, leveraging their creativity, talent, and training to become a significant resource for artists, local communities, and social movements throughout the region.

Alternate ROOTS believes that active and engaged community partnerships that use arts and culture to illustrate, target, and leverage local assets are essential in the struggle to transform individuals and local communities. The organization wishes to support projects that highlight existing community assets, or address critical local issues in communities that are deeply impacted by social and economic injustices. The program’s objective is to put to practice the lessons learned over forty plus years about how to build strong partnerships and collaborations that extend or deepen the presence of artists within a community, at home or on the road. These projects may serve as a catalyst to explore the power of art as a force for social change.


We like to share our resources, our network of artists, educators, cultural workers, administrators, activists, facilitators, and trainers. We even share staff, when appropriate. For a seat at the partnership table, we bring our collective understanding of cultural organizing, and years of knowledge and experience to support the building of equitable and reciprocal partnerships between individuals and local organizations. Reciprocity means all partners share in the work, reap some benefits, and contribute to the outcomes.

What Alternate ROOTS Brings to the Partnership:

  • We begin with a Community Visit engaging local constituents and partners to explore the development, process, and progress of their partnership and their project plans.
  • We can help with technical assistance which can include (but is not limited to) support in the areas of: press, promotion, marketing, fundraising, logistics, administration, and fiscal sponsorship. Technical assistance is tailored to the needs of each individual project and partner.
  • We can help with financial support. Funding for selected partnerships will be $25,000 in direct funds in addition to technical support and services valued at $25,000 per year.
  • We invite you to come meet the ROOTS community by participating in one ROOTS Weekend or ROOTS Week: Annual Meeting and Artists’ Retreat during the partnership period.
  • We pay for travel, lodging, and accommodations to attend the 2020 Partners Cohort Meeting. All partners will be required to attend this meeting. Date and location of this meeting is yet TBA, but will take place in 2021.

What Applicants Bring to the Partnership: 

  • Reciprocal partnerships; ROOTS is interested in investing where collective learning is a strength that can come back and feed the ROOTS network and southern artist-activist ecosystem.
  • ROOTS is invited into the process; we expect for the partner to invite ROOTS to work deeply with the project and partners.
  • Artistic work and learning is shared with the ROOTS and Surdna community through online publications, sponsored learning exchanges, ROOTS Weekends, and ROOTS Weeks.
  • Invest in the Partners for Change cohort by offering programming and resource sharing with other partners in your same issue area or region.
Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.