Southerners on New Ground




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $2,400,956
Expenses: $1,574,583
Assets: $2,622,758




Kendra Johnson


Advocacy Group

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

Southerners on New Ground (SONG) is an LGBT advocacy group which has branched out into general progressive left-of-center advocacy. It was founded in 1993 at the annual national conference of the National LGBTQ Task Force to provide support to LGBT groups in the southeast United States.

In 2017, SONG was the 10th-largest southern LGBT-interest nonprofit recipient of public funds. 1

One of seven co-founders of SONG was Pamela McMichael, a long-time left-of-center activist. McMichael is a board member of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a far-left agitation group2 and works for the Highland Center, a social justice activism training school. She is also a member of Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky based lobbying group which supports anti-discrimination laws. McMichael was a plaintiff in the Kentucky Supreme Court case Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. Wasson, which struck down laws prohibiting consensual same-sex relations. 3

Mission and Tactics

Southerners on New Ground builds and organizes local grassroots groups to advocate for left-of-center politics, primarily around LGBT- and racial-interest issues, but also related to criminal justice reform and expanding immigration. 45

Most of SONG’s projects are started by the primary organization, but SONG gives out grants of $5,000 to approved Member Initiated Projects. 6

Free from Fear Campaign

The Free from Fear Campaign coordinates protests and activism opposing government policies and biases that SONG believes endanger ethnic minorities in America. Specifically, SONG opposes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), supports changes to make the bail system more lenient for accused defendants, and supports closer monitoring of law enforcement to combat racial bias. 7

In 2019, SONG raised money to pay bail for 61 women throughout the South. 8

Training Programs

SONG runs programs across the South to train leaders of local movements. The Fellowship Program is a year-long training program to prepare local leaders for South-specific activism. 9 In 2017, the organization launched the SONG BLM Cohort to train “Black queer, trans, and gender non-conforming identified organizers” in North Carolina to lead local Black Lives Matter and affiliated groups. 10 In 2019, this training was expanded across the South in the form of Lorde’s Werq. 11

Donor Organizations

SONG receives funding from numerous prominent left-of-center organizations. In the early 2010s, SONG was one of the most well-funded LGBT-interest groups in the South, though the region’s groups received relatively little funding compared to those elsewhere in the rest of the US. SONG’s prominent donors included the Arcus Foundation, a grantmaking foundation created by billionaire John Stryker; the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a nonprofit which received significant funds from the Obama administration; and the Ford Foundation, one of the largest left-of-center advocacy foundations in America. 12

In 2014 and 2015, SONG received $100,000 from NEO Philanthropy, a New York City-based nonprofit that operates as a “clearinghouse” for left-of-center causes. 1314

In 2015, SONG received $112,500 from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, one of two grantmaking foundations created by UPS founder, James Casey. 15 That year, SONG also received $200,000 from the NoVo Foundation, the nonprofit run by Peter Buffet, son of billionaire Warren Buffet. 16

Borealis Philanthropy, a group known for funding Black Lives Matter, has been a consistent funder of SONG since 2016. 17

In 2017, SONG received $100,000 from Groundswell Fund, a “pass-through” grantmaker which funds LGBT-interest and abortion-advocacy groups. 18 That year, SONG also received $20,000 from the Proteus Fund, a “pass-through” donor-advised fund. 19

In 2019, SONG received $150,000 from the Heising-Simons Foundation, a family foundation founded by Mark Heising and Liz Simons. 20 The same year, SONG also received $50,000 from the National Bailout Collective, an advocacy group pursuing more lenient bail systems. 21

Ally Organizations

SONG works alongside many left-progressive organizations. Its “Coalitions & Allies” are groups with which SONG formally pools resources for its projects:22

  • AgitArte
  • Center for Resilient Individuals, Families, and Communities (CRIFC)
  • Mijente
  • Movement for Black Lives
  • National Bail Out
  • Transgender Law Center

SONG also lists “Kindred Spirit Organizations,” with whom they “deeply align politically:”23

  • All of Us or None
  • BYP100
  • Companeros Inmigrantes de las Montanas en Accion (CIMA)
  • Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
  • Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement
  • Free Hearts
  • Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
  • Highlander Research and Education Center
  • House of GG
  • ICE out of RVA
  • Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN)
  • Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective
  • Law for Black Lives
  • MediaJustice
  • National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (NNIRR)
  • National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
  • Project South
  • Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP)
  • Reframe Mentorship
  • Sanctuary Collective
  • Silicon Valley Debug
  • Sister Song
  • Southern Movement Alliance
  • Southwest Workers Union
  • Spark
  • Student Action with Farmworkers
  • The Audre Lord Project
  • The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS)
  • The Southern Center for Human Rights
  • The Sylvia Rivera Law Project
  • Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project
  • Virginia Anti-Violence Project


  1. “2017 Tracking Report.” LGBTQ Grantmaking by U.S. Foundations. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  2. “SURJ Leadership Team.” SURJ. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  3. “Faces of Liberty: Pam McMichael.” ACLU Kentucky. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  4. “Our Mission, Vision & History.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  5. “Our Work.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  6. “Member Initiated Projects.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  7. “Free from Fear Campaign.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  8. “2019 End of Year Report.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  9. “Fellowship Program.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  10. “The North Carolina BLM Cohort.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  11. “Lorde’s Werq.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  12. “Left out in the South: National funding foundations leaving southern LGTB nonprofits high and dry.” Georgia Voice. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  13. “Return on Organization Exempt from Taxes 2014 (Form 990).” ProPublica. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  14. “Return on Organization Exempt from Taxes 2015 (Form 990).” ProPublica. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  15. “Return on Organization Exempt from Taxes 2017 (Form 990).” ProPublica. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  16. “Return on Organization Exempt from Taxes 2015 (Form 990).” ProPublica. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  17. “Grantee Profile.” Borealis Philanthropy. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  18. “Return on Organization Exempt from Taxes 2017 (Form 990).” ProPublica. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  19. “Return on Organization Exempt from Taxes 2017 (Form 990).” ProPublica. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  20. “Search Our Grants and Awards.” Heising-Simons Foundation. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  21. “2019 End of Year Report.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  22. “Our Coalitions & Allies.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.
  23. “Kindred Spirit Organizations.” SONG. Accessed February 28, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Pamela McMichael
    Founding Co-Director
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1999

  • 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 $2,400,956 $1,574,583 $2,622,758 $6,824 N $2,396,315 $720 $3,669 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,121,450 $1,067,599 $1,694,095 $4,534 N $1,101,631 $13,983 $252 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990 $731,075 $788,976 $957,662 $8,832 N $720,258 $10,342 $475 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $984,340 $535,294 $1,057,616 $50,885 N $957,512 $18,099 $181 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $654,435 $485,198 $561,716 $4,031 N $624,552 $27,023 $391 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $428,897 $384,547 $381,547 $599 N $426,343 $1,720 $834 $37,178 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $204,858 $264,780 $368,966 $3,263 N $203,616 $0 $1,242 $124,082 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Southerners on New Ground

    ATLANTA, GA 30310-1747