Non-profit

William Winter Institute

Website:

winterinstitute.org/

Location:

JACKSON, MS

Tax ID:

82-4615502

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Formation:

1999

Type:

Civil Rights Advocacy Group

Executive Director:

Portia Ballard Espy

The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation is a Mississippi advocacy group that creates training programs on how to improve racial tolerance. Though its programs are nonpartisan, its social media posts frequently share left-of-center perspectives, such as support for slavery reparations and legal status for illegal immigrants. [1] Its executive director, Portia Ballard Espy, is the wife of Clinton administration Agriculture Secretary and Mississippi Democratic politician Mike Espy. [2]

In 2018, it moved from its founding location on the University of Mississippi’s campus to Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, to improve its advocacy ability and to build a partnership with the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. [3]

History

The Institute was created as a result of former President Bill Clinton’s 1997 “One America” Executive Order, which hosted events around the country and developed reports on racial reconciliation. [4]

One of the members of its advisory board, former Governor of Mississippi William Winter (D), suggested an event at the University of Mississippi; its success inspired the idea of a permanent racial reconciliation center on its campus. Two years later in 1999, the Institute opened and was named after Gov. Winter, who continues to hold the title of chair emeritus for the nonprofit. [5]

According to an interview with former executive director Susan Glisson, its founding director, the relationship between the University of Mississippi and the William Winter Institute was often contentious. Many of the disagreements centered around financial support and conflicting ideas about how the Institute should be run. One desire that the university had was for the Institute to “be ideologically neutral,” fearing that it tended to slant too far to the left. [6]

Glisson resigned from her position in 2016, and current executive director Portia Ballard Espy, the Institute’s former Director of communications and field operations, assumed control in April 2018 after the Institute’s decision to leave the University of Mississippi. [7]

Present Activities

The William Winter Institute currently helps communities and companies, primarily in Mississippi, deal with race-related issues.

Its primary community outreach program is “The Welcome Table,” which brings people of different races together to host monthly conversations, educational sessions, and events. [8] The program culminates in projects designed to benefit the community, usually manifesting as a civil rights-based nonprofit. Sixteen communities, mostly in Mississippi, participate. [9]

It also hosts an annual, nine-day Summer Youth Institute for high school students, educating them on Mississippi’s racial history and on how to lead civil rights-related ventures going in their careers. [10]

The Institute has a website, but much of it, as of October 2019, has not been updated. Similarly, it advertises an educational program called “Rethink Mississippi,” which has not been updated since September 2017. [11]

Leadership

The executive director of the William Winter Institute is Portia Ballard Espy. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Children’s Defense Fund, two left-of-center nonprofits. [12]

Ballard Espy is the wife of former Clinton administration Agriculture Secretary and Mississippi Democratic politician Mike Espy. [13]

Finances

Though the William Winter Institute is now separate from the University of Mississippi, it has not released publicly available financial information as of October 2019. Even when it was a part of the University of Mississippi, the University’s University of Mississippi Foundation did not disclose how much funding it was given.

In an interview with The Northside Sun, executive director Portia Espy said that funding for the Institute hovered between “$500,000 to a million dollars” during its period within the University of Mississippi. After it left, however, funding, limited to donations only, dropped below that range. [14]

References

  1. “Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Testimony on Reparations.” William Winter Institute on Facebook , June 19, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/295860466710/posts/10156263604091711. ; “Mississippi ICE Raids: How to Help Children and Families.” Mississippi ICE Raids: How to Help… – William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, August 8, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/295860466710/posts/10156377246446711. ^
  2. Barron, James, and Corey Kilgannon. “PUBLIC LIVES.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 27, 1999. https://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/27/nyregion/public-lives.html. ^
  3. Guizerix, Anna. “William Winter Institute Leaves Ole Miss.” The Oxford Eagle, February 3, 2018. https://www.oxfordeagle.com/2018/02/04/william-winter-institute-leaves-ole-miss/. ^
  4. Vance, Taylor. “William Winter Institute Relocates to Jackson after 19 Years at Ole Miss.” The Daily Mississippian, August 15, 2019. https://thedmonline.com/william-winter-institute-relocates-jackson-19-years-ole-miss/. ^
  5. Vance, Taylor. “William Winter Institute Relocates to Jackson after 19 Years at Ole Miss.” The Daily Mississippian, August 15, 2019. https://thedmonline.com/william-winter-institute-relocates-jackson-19-years-ole-miss/. ^
  6. “UM’s Relationship with the Winter Institute Was Not Black and White.” The Daily Mississippian, October 11, 2018. https://thedmonline.com/ums-relationship-with-the-winter-institute-was-not-black-and-white/. ^
  7. “UM’s Relationship with the Winter Institute Was Not Black and White.” The Daily Mississippian, October 11, 2018. https://thedmonline.com/ums-relationship-with-the-winter-institute-was-not-black-and-white/. ^
  8. Yeoman, Barry. “Healing Racial Fault Lines.” Mindful, June 12, 2018. https://www.mindful.org/healing-racial-fault-lines/. ^
  9. “Partner Communities.” William Winter Institute. Accessed October 4, 2019. http://final.winterinstitute.org/community-building/partner-communities/. ^
  10. “Youth Engagement.” William Winter Institute. Accessed October 4, 2019. http://final.winterinstitute.org/youth-engagement/. ^
  11. Gray, Catherine. “If My Son’s Going to Be from Mississippi: One Mother’s Reflection on the Bicentennial: Catherine Gray.” Rethink Mississippi, December 15, 2017. https://www.rethinkms.org/2017/12/14/sons-going-mississippi-one-mothers-reflection-bicentennial/. ^
  12. “Staff.” William Winter Institute. Accessed October 4, 2019. http://winterinstitute.org/staff/. ^
  13. Starr, Terrell Jermaine. “Mike Espy Is Hoping to Prove America Wrong About Mississippi During Runoff for Senate Seat.” The Root. The Root, November 27, 2018. https://www.theroot.com/mike-espy-is-hoping-to-prove-america-wrong-about-missis-1830687482. ^
  14. “a Conversation with Portia Espy on William Winter Institute.” The Northside Sun, June 27, 2019. https://www.northsidesun.com/news-breaking-news/conversation-portia-espy-william-winter-institute#sthash.fX4kNiUM.dpbs. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 2019

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    William Winter Institute

    134 E AMITE ST
    JACKSON, MS 39201-2101