Partnership for Southern Equity




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $1,645,009
Expenses: $939,649
Assets: $1,224,587

The Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that promotes the adoption of local policy initiatives developed through the lens of race. It was previously known as Equity Atlanta but changed its name in 2010.

PSE is an offspring of, and works with, the left-of-center PolicyLink to help advance PolicyLink’s “All-In Cities ” policy manifesto in southern cities and municipalities, most prominently with Atlanta, Georgia. City governments that adopt the All-In Cities mandate are expected to view all policies, laws and statutes through the lens of race. This initiative is part of a broader effort by the Local and Regional Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) to promote such race-facing economic and social policy in municipal government.

Partnership for Southern Equity states it has four focus areas: energy, economy, development, and health. In 2017, PSE was awarded its largest single grant in its history when the left-leaning MacArthur Foundation provided $1 million to promote PSE’s environmentalist climate change agenda to minority communities in Georgia. 1

Background and History

In 2008 PSE’s founder Nathaniel Smith led a delegation from metropolitan Atlanta to attend PolicyLink’s Equity Summit in New Orleans. Equity Atlanta was formed after that Summit and then hosted the Southern Sustainability Summit focusing on left-of-center issues concerning the environment, economy, and equity in Metro Atlanta and the American South. In 2010, Equity Atlanta changed its name to Partnership for Southern Equity in order to broaden its brand. 2

In 2013 PSE created an “equity mapping and framing tool,” the Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas (MAEA). 3 PSE has also co-authored numerous reports including: “Growing the Future: The Case for Economic Inclusion in Metropolitan Atlanta,” and “Employment Equity: Putting Georgia on the Path to Inclusive Prosperity.” 4

The Partnership for Southern Equity has led numerous efforts to raise taxes in support of its policy agenda, including mobilizing the Just Transportation Circle (JTC) in 2011 to engage the public to support an effort to raise taxes by $13 million via referendum to expand Atlanta’s metropolitan transit system. 56 PSE also supported the passing of a 15 percent set-aside of Atlanta Beltline Tax Allocation District (TAD) tax dollars for the development and maintenance of workforce housing within the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area – estimated total of $250 million dollars over the 25-year lifespan of the Atlanta BeltLine TAD. 7  In 2016 PSE founder and CEO Nathaniel Smith resigned in protest from the board of the BeltLine redevelopment project stating he believed the project was not doing enough to adopt PSE’s agenda. 8


Nathaniel Smith is PSE’s Founder and CEO. Before founding PSE, Smith worked as director of partnerships and research for equitable development at Emory University’s Center for Community Partnerships (CFCP) and as public policy manager at the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP). 9 Dwayne Patterson is PSE’s vice president of Strategy and engagement. 10


Partnership for Southern Equity receives substantial funding from organizational contributors, including left-leaning foundations. PSE does not clearly disclose its donors. Known funders of PSE have been identified from publicly available filings with the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor, as well as donor websites and news media reports.

PSE’s first documented funding came from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2011. The $100,000 grant was announced in 2011 but dedicated for use by PSE from September 2011 through December 2012. 11  

According to its tax forms filed with the IRS, PSE received total contributions of $295,340 in 2013; $144,715 in 2014; $415,713 in 2015; and $455,482 in 2016. 12

Funders and contributions in 2016 total included $150,000 from the Kendeda Fund,13 $90,000 from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta,14 $60,000 from the Energy Foundation,15 $10,000 from the Chorus Foundation,16 and $125,000 from the Surdna Foundation. 17

In 2017, PSE received a total of $1,333,396,18 including the above noted $1,000,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, and a $300,000 2-year grant from the Kresge Foundation. 19  In 2018, PSE received $375,000 for three years from the Surdna Foundation20 and $200,000 from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. 21

For the year 2019, PSE received $300,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation,22 $10,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation,23 and $15,000 from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. 24


  1. “Partnership for Southern Equity Grant.” Macarthur Foundation. Accessed January 14, 2020.
  2. “PSE Name Change.” Partnership for Southern Equity. Accessed January 14, 2020.
  3. “PSE Equity Mapping Tool.” “University Outreach and Engagement -PSE Programs.” Michigan State University. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  4. “Nathaniel Smith.” Council on Foundations. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  5. “Transit Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) Referendum.” “Partnership for Southern Equity.” Accessed January 15, 2020.
  6. “Atlanta’s Metropolitan Transit System Tax.” “University Outreach and Engagement.” Accessed January 15, 2020.
  7. “PSE Supports $250 million in new taxes.” Council on Foundations. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  8. “Nathan Smith Resigns from Board.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 29, 2016.–politics/beltline-creator-gravel-resigns-from-partnership/xw6pzH118XduyzFlYwJNvN/.
  9. Nathaniel Smith Profile. LinkedIn. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  10. “PSE About US.” Partnership for Southern Equity. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  11. “Partnership for Southern Equity’s – Moving to Equity: Racial and Transportation Justice in the New South.” W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  12. “2016 Form 990 for Partnership for Southern Equity.” 2016 Form 990 for Partnership for Southern Equity | Cause IQ. Accessed January 22, 2020.
  13. “2016 Form 990 for Kendeda Fund.” Foundation Search. Accessed January 22, 2020. 
  14. “Community Foundation Grants over $2.5 Million to Atlanta Nonprofits. Competitive Grants Are Supplemented by Gifts from Donor-Advised Funds.” CFGA, October 14, 2016.   
  15. “1016 Form 990 for the Energy Fund.” The Energy Fund Website.
  16. “Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE).” Chorus Foundation, December 1, 2017.
  17. “PSE Fiscal Year 2016.” Surdna Foundation – 2016 Approved Grants. Accessed January 22, 2020.
  18. “2017 Form 990 for Partnership for Southern Equity.” 2017 Form 990 for Partnership for Southern Equity | Cause IQ. Accessed January 22, 2020.
  19. “G-1708-269382 – Partnership for Southern Equity.” The Kresge Foundation, February 20, 2018.
  20. “Surdna Foundation Announces $14.23 Million in Grants.” PSE Grant. Accessed January 22, 2020.
  21. “What and Where We Fund.” Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Accessed January 22, 2020.
  22. Kresge Foundation. “Grants Awarded.” The Kresge Foundation. Kresge, January 1, 1970.[0]=field_organization%3Afield_location:Atlanta, Georgia.
  23. “Grants.” W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Accessed January 22, 2020.
  24. “What and Where We Fund.” Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Accessed January 22, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 2011

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,645,009 $939,649 $1,224,587 $27,688 N $1,333,396 $311,273 $16 $112,750
    2016 Dec Form 990 $735,944 $567,793 $476,322 $10,533 N $455,482 $277,384 $14 $75,000
    2015 Dec Form 990 $492,473 $218,831 $319,795 $21,115 N $415,713 $76,350 $5 $49,000 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $168,118 $315,889 $26,038 $1,000 N $144,715 $23,256 $1 $48,000 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $298,899 $292,691 $170,733 $508 N $295,340 $2,022 $0 $34,500 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $230,116 $67,148 $163,011 $43 N $229,931 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Partnership for Southern Equity

    55 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. Northwest, Suite 530
    ATLANTA, GA 30308