Scholarship Opportunity: Anthony “Tony” Gobar Juvenile Justice Scholarship

Anthony “Tony” Gobar of Jackson, a long-time juvenile justice specialist, died of a heart attack at age 53 in the summer of 2004. He was a man who had dedicated himself to making his community a better place, especially when it came to troubled youth who found themselves in the state’s criminal justice system.

A Breaux Bridge, Louisiana native and Southern University graduate, Gobar began working in job training at a community action agency in Louisiana before moving to Jackson and joining the Department of Criminal Justice Planning as a Program Manager. He worked later as a juvenile justice specialist after his division became part of the Department of Public Safety.

Herbert Terry, director of the Justice Programs Division at the Department of Public Safety, said Gobar was “one of the most professional, caring, sincere, unselfish and honest persons that I have ever worked with or known. He worked untiringly to improve the juvenile justice system in Mississippi.”

The National Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington, D.C., established an award in his name for individuals working in the juvenile justice field, and he was posthumously honored by the Arkansas Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

“Tony found his greatest joy in the simple things in life,” his wife, Angela, said in a news release. “He served God as a parishioner of Holy Family Catholic Church in Jackson.

Tony was known for and will be remembered for his selfless spirit and willingness to always help another person.”

PURPOSE:

The Anthony “Tony” Gobar Juvenile Justice Scholarship Fund will provide an annual scholarship based on both merit and need for a full-time junior or senior at a public university in Mississippi or at Southern University in Louisiana majoring in criminal justice, political science, social work, pre-law or counseling.

The student must have a stated career interest in juvenile justice or a similar field and have demonstrated a strong commitment to community and public service.

The scholarship is a one-time award up to $2,500 (non-renewable each year). The award may be used for tuition, books and room and board.

The selection committee for the Anthony “Tony” Gobar Scholarship will select finalists who meet the application deadline and stated selection criteria. 

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY AND SELECTION CRITERIA

Students must be a U.S. citizen with a current grade point average no less than 2.5 on a

4.0 scale. Demonstrated financial need must be provided via the student’s university or college financial aid office.

If a student meets the above-stated eligibility criteria, he/she must submit the following:

  • The Anthony “Tony” Gobar Scholarship application form including a statement of career interest and a description of community and/or public service
  • Three (3) letters of
  • Financial aid information verified via the University or College Financial Aid Officer

Applications are due June 30, 2024

Awardees will be notified in writing and may be invited to receive their award during the Annual Mississippi Juvenile Justice Conference.

Scholarship Opportunity: Blake Coghlan Memorial Ag Scholarship

Image of Blake Coghlan with field behind him.Blake Coghlan had dreams of building the best farm in the Delta.

At 19 years old, Blake Coghlan had dreams of building the best farm in the Delta. He grew up in Holly Bluff, MS to a fourth generation Mississippi farm family. Blake was a promising young farmer with a passion for farming. He was an exceptional person with tremendous potential. He was undeniably authentic, unassuming, easy-going, and loved by everyone who met him.

He attended Mississippi Delta Community College pursuing an Ag Science degree and had plans to further his education at Mississippi State University.

The Blake Coghlan Memorial Ag Scholarship Fund was created at the Community Foundation for Mississippi to encourage young people who share his passion for farming and agriculture. The scholarship provides financial assistance to a graduating high school senior from Yazoo County or Sharkey County intending to study Agriculture or Agriculture-related degree at a Mississippi 4-year or 2-year institution. The award is for a period of one academic year.

Recipients will be selected based on academic achievement, leadership qualities, and career objectives in the field of agriculture.

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY AND SELECTION CRITERIA

  • U.S. citizen
  • 2.5 GPA
  • At least two recommendations either from a teacher, counselor, principal, or others (one recommendation must be from a school representative).
  • High school senior from Yazoo or Sharkey counties
  • Graduating senior who will majoring Ag or Ag related degree
  • Going to a Mississippi two or four-year college or university
  • Full-time student
  • Must submit a 500-word essay about why you are pursuing a career in agriculture.

APPLICATION CHECKLIST

The Community Foundation for Mississippi must receive each complete application at 119 S. President Street, Jackson, MS 39201 by March 31, 2024.

Please include:

  • Completed application form
  • Essay
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Official high school transcript with GPA

NOTIFICATION

Applicants will be notified by mail or email about the status of their application. Scholarship funds will be distributed directly to the institution of the applicant’s choice no later than September 1, 2024.

QUESTIONS

Please contact the Community Foundation for Mississippi at 601.974.6044 or email us at info@formississippi.org.

WellsFest CARES Fund Supports Musicians In Need

WellsFest, the annual music festival of Wells United Methodist Church, has been a long-time staple of the Jackson fall event scene. For over 40 years, the generosity of musicians donating their time and talent has made the event possible. Now, a group has come together to give back to local musicians and create more programming to keep the spirit of WellsFest alive all year long through the WellsFest CARES Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi.

“Musicians are great at providing entertainment and giving us a lot of things to be joyful about,” said Keith Ferguson, founder and fund holder for the WellsFest CARES Fund. “Sometimes they’re not really equipped with a safety net and will run into trouble spots… we want to be there for those musicians who hit those times. It may be an instrument that needs repair. It may be a car that needs repair. It may be dental – could be utilities. It could be funeral expenses. And so we want to be there for those musicians that have a little extra need and just need some extra helping hand there.”

With several benefit concerts under their belt, the group is hosting a tribute concert on February 4 at 4 p.m. in memory of their first grant recipient, Steve Chester.

“Steve is another one of those outstanding musicians that has given back so much to this community. Steve has played with a number of bands. He played every single WellsFest, except the last one when he was in bad health, but he had played every WellsFest we’ve ever had,” said Ferguson. “We lost Steve last year and we are just want to celebrate his life and remember him. And we’re also helping his family to pay off some end-of-life expenses, about $10,000 worth of hospice care and other expenses. And we’re working with others to try to pay this off and so far we’re about over halfway there. And so it’ll be not only a time to celebrate Steve, but it’ll be a time for people to reach out and help us in a tangible way.”

Hear more about the fund and the upcoming tribute concert on Visit Jackson’s Soul Sessions podcast, found here.

Click here to support the WellsFest CARES Fund at CFM. The group has also created the WellsFest CARES Endowment Fund to support musicians long-term. Donations of $1,000 or more to the WellsFest CARES Endowment Fund qualify for the Endow Mississippi state tax credit.

CFM: End of the Year Dates to Know

The end of the year will be here soon! The Community Foundation for Mississippi has several important dates for you to keep in mind as you think about year-end giving to ensure your financial contributions make an impact with nonprofits by December 31, 2023.

If you are planning end-of-year grants from a fund:

  • Donating stock? All notifications of stock donations must be made before Thursday, December 14, 2023. Click here to download our stock donation form.
  • The last day to submit a grant request through our donor portal to ensure processing for the 2023 calendar year is Tuesday, December 19, 2023. All grant requests made after December 19, 2023 may not be processed until January 4, 2023.
  • The last day to request a check for a vendor is Tuesday, December 19, 2023 to ensure the check will be sent and processed by December 31, 2023. All vendor check requests made after December 19, 2023 may not be processed until January 4, 2024.
  • Checks will be processed by their check and postmark date. Donations made by December 31, 2023 will be acknowledged as being given during the 2023 calendar year. Gifts can be made online via credit card as late as 11:45 p.m. on December 31, 2023 or by mailing a check to 119 S. President St., First Floor, Jackson, MS 39201.

Other important things to note:

The Community Foundation physical offices will be closed:

  • Monday, December 25, 2023 through Tuesday, January 2, 2024
  • While CFM’s physical offices will be closed, staff will be available for limited hours during this week via phone and email. For emergencies, please get in touch with Jane Alexander at jane@formississippi.org.
  • Offices will reopen on Wednesday, January 3

Job Opportunity: Fundraising Associate

The Fundraising Associate works closely with the President and CEO and other staff to implement a strategy to meet organizational goals for growth and success. This position is responsible for cultivating productive relationships with professional advisors, like financial planners, investment advisors, attorneys and accountants, and donor prospects across CFM’s 22-county service area. This position helps create and then executes development plans to include in-person visits with and presentations to professional advisors and their clients.

Through development and cultivation of personal relationships and affinity groups, this position strengthens the culture of philanthropy particularly in rural areas of Mississippi.

The Fundraising Associate guides the organization’s goal of growing our public profile and educating donors and professional advisors across our 22-county service area about ways to enhance personal giving. Strategies include but are not limited to promoting major gifts, planned gifts and project funds for communities. Developing outreach and relationships into counties outside the metropolitan area of the City of Jackson is a specific priority. Travel is expected on a weekly basis.

This position answers to the President and CEO and helps staff the Development Committee. Working as part of a team, they help create and align strategic objectives for growth and developing philanthropy in entire area of coverage.

Working with CEO and staff, to further the asset development goals of the organization, the Fundraising Associate will:

  • Be focused on realizing the Foundation’s goals to increase visibility, knowledge and use of the Community Foundation for Mississippi in 22 counties across rural, southwest and central Mississippi;
  • Cultivate professional advisors to motivate their clients and potential donors to greater stewardship;
  • Travel weekly to targeted communities and counties to meet with professional advisors and community leaders;
  • Report weekly on progress and needs to President and CEO and staff;
  • Identify prospects for referrals and gifts, and implement a plan for cultivating these using the CEO, other staff, current and past board members, committee members and other volunteers;
  • Oversee and manage database of prospects and donors and produce reports as needed;
  • Schedule meetings and ask for and enlist required participation from CEO, staff and Trustees;
  • Develop strong relationships with the professional advisor, corporate and business communities in 6 priority counties;
  • Foster a Professional Advisor Council and coordinate activities and outreach to strengthen awareness and knowledge of CFM;
  • As part of a professional, dedicated staff, be willing to perform other duties as needed to further the mission, culture, needs and policies of the Foundation.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

ASSET DEVELOPMENT

  • Encourage and facilitate philanthropy among a broad base of participants;
  • Cultivate relationships with professional advisors to help bring assets to the Foundation;
  • Work with current donors to enhance their experience with the Foundation;
  • Support the work of the Board to identify, cultivate and meet with prospective donors;
  • Acquire and maintain a high level of knowledge on tools and issues related to charitable giving, especially those at community foundations;
  • Use data and research to identify prospects and opportunities for current donors;
  • Help create processes to encourage donors to give complex assets;
  • Plan events and training for Professional Advisor Council with staff and CEO.

DONOR SERVICES

  • Create and develop strong relationships with donors, professional advisors and the community;
  • Assure outstanding service, stewardship and responsiveness to professional advisors and prospective donors;
  • Assist donors as they seek to fulfill their philanthropic goals.

GRANTMAKING and CAPACITY BUILDING

  • Provide information about Foundation grantmaking to NPOs and community leaders;
  • Help identify needs to staff to pursue fund development opportunities for donors and communities;
  • Work with nonprofit community to build relationships and seek opportunities for partnerships and trainings to build capacity.

OPERATIONS

  • Work within established and approved budget to achieve growth and outreach goals;
  • Coordinate professional advisor activities for staff and Board members;
  • Help manage process for maintaining accurate database records of donors and Foundation partners.

REQUIREMENTS

The successful candidate will:

  • Have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in a field complementary to business development or relationship management, or an equivalent combination of educational attainment, skills and experience;
  • Have at minimum 2 years of relationship management experience in services like investments, accounting, law or sales;
  • Have community-based, place-based knowledge and curiosity;
  • Possess excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • Have an outgoing and approachable personality with a genuine interest in people;
  • Have reliable transportation and be willing to travel extensively within the CFM footprint;
  • Be self-directed, goal-oriented, problem-solving and able to work collaboratively with staff, volunteers and other stakeholders;
  • Exhibit a strong, outward facing approach toward customer service;
  • Perform to the highest level of ethics and best practices and maintain
  • Have a passion for philanthropy, the State of Mississippi and its many communities;
  • Enjoy working in a team environment where independent thought and innovative expression are welcomed;
  • Be an organized self-starter capable of working without immediate supervision but with regular reporting;
  • Demonstrate mature judgement and patience;
  • Be willing to develop professional knowledge about community foundations;
  • Be able to articulate a professional opinion after thoughtful evaluation;
  • Possess strong interpersonal communication skills, including the ability to
  • Be optimistic and solutions-oriented;
  • Receive information and advice readily;
  • Have a strong work ethic with an enthusiastic approach to
  • Demonstrate flexibility and adaptability with the ability to quickly shift from one situation or task to another.
  • Cultivate the ability to thrive in a collaborative, team environment that is busy and sometimes hectic.

Salary is competitive DOE and includes paid health insurance, dental insurance and retirement plan.

To apply: Letter of interest and resume to info@formississippi.org with the subject line “Fundraising Associate.”

LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi at the Community Foundation for Mississippi Announces 2023 Grant Recipients

The LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi at the Community Foundation for Mississippi (CFM) announced 2023 annual funding commitments today totaling more than $131,000. The total included $98,187 for ten programs serving LGBTQ Mississippians around the state, $10,500 to update the statewide Needs Assessment by the Mississippi LGBTQ Study, $8,100 to sponsor LGBTQ events in the state and $15,000 for small micro-grants and training provided by the Campaign for Southern Equality. The fund’s Grants Review Committee, chaired by Michael Martella, used information from the current Needs Assessment and from proposals submitted by applicants to make funding recommendations.

“The organizations awarded funds during this year’s grantmaking cycle are a remarkable testament to the vibrancy and resilience of Mississippi’s LGBTQ community. In every corner of the state, folks are working hard to meet the diverse needs of our community, and the LGBTQ Fund is proud to offer our resources and support,” said Martella.

2023 Grant Recipients include:

Big House Books (Jackson, MS): Provides a diverse range of LGBTQ material to incarcerated readers and will create an inventory of available paperback books.

Delta State University’s PRIDE Alliance (Cleveland, MS): Supports monthly social gatherings, LGBTQ cultural and educational events and provides monetary supplements for students to engage in further conferences or queer events to further social justice.

Growing Up Knowing (Jackson, MS): Supports the development and implementation of comprehensive sex education for high school students.

Gulf Coast Equality (Gulfport, MS): Develops a mental health outreach program to create training materials and presentations, develop resources for mental health providers and establish workshops to increase awareness of the specific mental health needs of our LGBTQ community.

LGBTQIA Emergency Fund of North MS (Regional): Provides emergency help and crisis referral services to individuals in counties in Northwest Mississippi.

My Brother’s Keeper/We the Positive (Ridgeland, MS): Uplifts all Mississippians living with HIV while promoting a stigma-free environment for all LGBTQ persons in Mississippi.

Pride Resource Center (Tupelo, MS): Provides a safe place to meet while offering support, education and a variety of programs for the LGBTQ community.  Also provides information on safe and welcoming resources in North Mississippi.

South MS AIDS Task Force (Biloxi, MS): Provides educational outreach regarding the prevention and transmission of HIV/AIDS and provides effective services to those impacted by the disease.

The Spectrum Center (Hattiesburg, MS): Advocates for and secures full inclusion and empowerment for the LGBTQ community in the Pine Belt of Mississippi through the provision of resources, community support, and direct action.

TRANS Program (Statewide): The TRANS Program is a mobile, statewide, grassroots nonprofit, and comprehensive program led by Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) people. Missioned to serve TGNC people, the program focuses on strategies to improve understanding of TGNC people, expand ally-ship, reduce discrimination, increase protections, and ensure that TGNC people are presented with opportunities to thrive and have their needs met.

The LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi at the Community Foundation for Mississippi pools funds to support LGBTQ organizations across the state that address the needs of LGBTQ Mississippians. This is made possible through donations and community support. As the state’s first and only grant-making fund focused on supporting organizations that improve the quality of life for LGBTQ Mississippians, the fund at CFM works as a pipeline fueling and enhancing the work of LGBTQ-focused organizations by professional stewardship of funds and other resources from outside donors.

The LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi envisions a state where all LGBTQ Mississippians live safely, openly, and without isolation, prejudice, and discrimination. The fund develops and invests resources to support efforts that address the needs of LGBTQ Mississippians. This cycle’s funds also include plans for an updated statewide Needs Assessment of LGBTQ organizations and adults.

More information about the LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi at the Community Foundation for Mississippi, including past grantees, is available at lgbtqfundms.org.

Community members are also encouraged to contribute to the LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi through CFM’s website, found here.

CACM Launches Endowment Fund at CFM and Matching Gift Campaign

Children's Advocacy Centers of Mississippi logoIf you could help Mississippi children in abusive situations have a streamlined experience to report trauma, would you? That’s a question the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi (CACM) asks often.

With a new endowment fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi, CACM hopes to support its mission to revolutionize child abuse – forever.

For over 20 years, CACM and its affiliated children’s advocacy centers have provided a community-based, child-friendly, and trauma-informed network to coordinate a multidisciplinary response to child maltreatment allegations. At a children’s advocacy center, children can speak to a forensic interviewer trained to understand child development, manage bias, and identify secondary trauma and other best practices for interviewing children.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, CACM is kickstarting the fund with a $50,000 matching challenge during the month of September.

“We are incredibly grateful to the family who has chosen to help provide the start-up funding for our new Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi Endowment Fund,” said Karla Tye, CACM’s Executive Director. “Establishing an endowment, this generous family is providing an avenue for every citizen to be a part of protecting children. By supporting CACM, you will join our vision of transforming Mississippi by defeating child abuse.”

Paired with the Endow Mississippi state tax credit for gifts to endowed funds at Mississippi community foundations, Tye says there is no better way to help support their mission.

“Like all gifts, the endowment will assist us in securing our mission to revolutionize Mississippi’s response to child abuse. Donors are a critically important part of making our work a reality. Establishing an endowment is a powerful tool and takes gift-giving one step further by creating a dependable and perpetual source of financial support.  The matching gift challenges Mississippians to assist us in securing the full amount of the $50,000 gift. Paired with Endow Mississippi’s tax credit, your gift today will help children’s tomorrows be better than their yesterdays.”

As an endowment fund at a qualified community foundation in Mississippi, donors are eligible for a state tax credit equal to 25 percent of their gift through Endow Mississippi. This program offers an incentive to encourage individuals, businesses and organizations to make lasting investments in their local communities through charitable giving. The minimum qualifying gift is $1,000.

These gifts strengthen CACM’s ability to continue their work such as the Child Advocacy Training Institute. Located in Jackson, the Institute is utilized by Child Advocacy Studies programs for educational and real-world simulation purposes for law enforcement, social workers and others who might encounter abuse and neglect. The center accommodates multiple live scenarios simultaneously, which are modeled after real-life cases. This hands-on training enables professionals to recognize, react, and respond appropriately in circumstances where children are experiencing or may be at risk of child maltreatment. Tye said Mississippi is leading the national initiative to expand experiential learning opportunities for students related to the protection of children.

“CACM has developed statewide programs within the colleges and universities for students on effectively addressing child abuse and neglect in real-world applications. This program is instrumental in preparing students with the skills to properly identify and respond to child abuse cases as a part of their professional career,” she said. “We are creating a workforce far better prepared to address the complexities of child abuse.”

Support the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi here. Learn more and download an Endow Mississippi application here.

Supporting Others Through Substance Abuse: Robert Malouf, Jr. Memorial Fund

Lee Malouf (left) and Robert Malouf, Jr. (right)

Robert Malouf, Jr.’s life was full of promise. In his high school days at Jackson Prep, he was active in sports, graduating in 2009. He then moved on to the University of Mississippi, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. After graduation, he was employed at Trustmark National Bank. He was loved by his family and had many friends. His mother, Lee Malouf, said he had a way of making people feel comfortable and at ease. In January 2017, at the age of 25, Robert died from an accidental opioid overdose. That year alone, over 45,000 lives were lost from opioid overdose.

“When he passed away, I started learning about substance abuse disorder and addiction,” his mother said, reflecting on her son. “So often, people only think that people do drugs or get high just to have fun. For him, it was also about getting everyday balance in his life. It is sad and there is so much stigma around it.”

Lee has learned a lot since those initial days of shock in 2017. First, she attended town hall meetings with Stand Up Mississippi and book discussions with End It For Good which led to work with initiatives like Mississippi Harm Reduction. Recognizing gaps in the substance abuse disorder community, Lee opened the Robert Malouf, Jr. Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi to honor his legacy and to assist many struggling with addiction.

“I have wanted to create a fund for a while. There were so many people who responded after his passing and many friends who have kept up with me,” she said. “People want to help in some way. I hope there will be a great deal of impact in the community.”

Lee would like to see more sober living homes come to fruition, which provides the next step after rehab. There is a particularly great need for sober living homes for women and pregnant women. Additionally, Lee is interested in providing support to disadvantaged persons who do not have the funds to pay for treatment and housing.

Another gap identified is transportation to take people to and from sober living homes to twelve-step programs, doctor’s appointments, work and other aspects of everyday life. Many simply cannot afford the next step, Lee said, and need help finding jobs. “It’s a huge benefit to be able to go to these separate living homes as a step towards getting out in the real world.”

Every day, 128 continue to die from opioid overdose around the country, leaving family, friends and community behind. Lee says, there is more we can do.

“Addiction is not a moral failing or a weakness. It is a complicated health issue. Since my son’s death, I began to meet people in recovery who had struggled with addiction, and I listened to their stories. Like most of us, their stories were of the joys and sorrows of life, and the turns their lives had taken when they made their best and worst choices. I realized they were people very much like me, and their stories give me hope.”

Making Space for Film in Mississippi

Thabi Moyo, Ryan Parker and Nina Parikh stand together.
Ryan Parker (center) stands with Thabi Moyo (left) and Nina Parikh (right) of the Mississippi Film Office at Sundance Film Festival in 2020.

Growing up in Brookhaven, movies were a big part of Ryan Parker’s life. On weekends, he was refreshing his stack of VHS rentals. Or, attending the local four-screen movie theatre – a luxury not offered in many small Mississippi towns.

“Film brings together writing, visuals, music – all of it together. I don’t know of anything like it. I think good films can change your life. I think they can change the way you see the world, the way you see other people,” said Parker, reflecting on the power of film. “They are empathy engines, in my mind, when done well. I think about films in my life that had as much impact as any class I’ve taken or sermon I’ve sat through. Bringing films like that to Mississippi, creating space and setting the table for that is so important.”

While his weekends at Brookhaven’s Regal Cinema are behind him, Parker has his sights on building a bigger table for film in Mississippi through the newly formed Mississippi Film Society. He hopes to use the organization as a launching pad to educate, inspire and entertain Mississippians through community screenings, film curriculum, lectures, workshops and, in the near future, a film festival. To help bring his vision to life, Parker recently opened the Mississippi Film Society Fund and Mississippi Film Society Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi to support operations and ensure sustainability for generations to come.

Creating community, he says, has been the heart of this process since he first started conversations about the society after moving back to Mississippi in 2021. Parker has been involved in the film industry for years, first on the academic side, earning his Ph.D. in faith and film at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley. Parker settled into a career on the publicity and marketing side of films – a strength that is helping him create connections as the Society gets off the ground.

“I’ve been arranging film events around the country for the past nine years,” he said. “Studios often have a list of cities where they want to stream things for word of mouth or test screenings. We’ve always argued that they’re ignoring vibrant communities (like Jackson).”

Connecting films to audiences outside the east and west coasts is an important part of his work. Through the Society, he hopes to fill the gap in smaller Mississippi communities without theatres, working with partners along the way.

“If you’re a community organizer, or if you’re working in the community in some capacity, whether you’re an educator, a faith leader, or a civic leader, and you’re interested in bringing film screenings to your community, I encourage them to reach out to me and let’s see if we can set something up. I have the equipment and can help with screening licenses,” he said.

Education is also part of the Mississippi Film Society’s first phase. Parker credits the Mississippi Film Office and others with empowering and educating young people about being film producers, especially with the rise in film productions around the state. He hopes the Society can also educate Mississippians about the power of film, being better film consumers and visual literacy. These efforts, he hopes, will lead to a film festival in 2025.

Parker acknowledges the void left by Crossroads Film Society, which last held its film festival in 2020, hoping the Society can grow into a strong regional film festival, in addition to regular programming, over time.

Working with the Community Foundation for Mississippi, he says, has been a perfect fit as the Society gets its feet on the ground.

“I would have never thought about an endowment, but I want this organization to be funded and passed off for future generations. I had only thought about an operating budget and how we can make money to pay for licensing fees, theatre rentals, marketing and everything it takes to make an organization run,” he said. “CFM empowers me to do things I couldn’t do in Los Angeles. Event organizations like this can’t exist without financial support. How CFM connects donors to organizations – that’s not my skill set. Having that is a huge help.”

Learn more about the Mississippi Film Society at msfilmsociety.org. Click to support the Mississippi Film Society Fund and Mississippi Film Society Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi. Donations over $1,000 to the Mississippi Film Society Endowment Fund qualify for the Endow Mississippi 25% state tax credit.

Can journalism bring people together in Mississippi?

Virtual Meeting. What if journalism could bring people together in Mississippi. September 19, 10-11:30 a.m.Can journalism bring people together in Mississippi? What would it mean for our state?

Clickbait headlines, sensationalism, daily conflict, alarmist reporting — it’s enough to make a lot of people tune out the news altogether. Coupled with the decline of traditional community newspapers, many people in philanthropy are asking: How can we strengthen journalism for the sake of our democracy?

Since 2018, the Community Foundation for Mississippi has been connecting philanthropy with ways to make a strategic impact around journalism in Mississippi.

In addition to bringing in dollars, we also see the benefit of bringing in new ideas.

In 2023, the Community Foundation began researching the methods of Constructive Journalism, as defined and advocated by the Denmark-based Constructive Institute. This method of journalism aims to help societies come together and find common ground, as opposed to emphasizing conflict and opposing viewpoints. The goal is not to smooth over problems, but rather to add hope.

Questions we have been pursuing include:

  • Can journalism bring people together in Mississippi? How? Why?
  • What gaps and opportunities do people in Mississippi see in their state and local coverage?
  • How can journalism bring unengaged and marginalized groups into civic dialogue?
  • Can adopting a different role help existing media outlets better serve their communities AND financially survive? How?

Journalists report the facts and hold leaders accountable. But that’s not the end of the story.

To ground our efforts in a Mississippi audience perspective, we interviewed a diverse group of 20 people from every corner of the state. Our audience saw value both in journalism’s traditional purposes and in its opportunities to move things forward in Mississippi.

The people we heard from described specific opportunities for journalism to play a key role in community-building and problem-solving at the state and local levels. They also pointed to the media’s power to define Mississippi’s narrative.

The stories our journalists tell, and the ways they tell them, shape how we see our communities and ourselves.

What does Constructive Journalism look like in practice? Could it actually work — and make a difference — in Mississippi? Let’s find out together.

Virtual Meeting: Sept. 19, 10-11:30 a.m.

The Community Foundation for Mississippi is inviting all media members statewide to learn, ask questions and share their feedback about Constructive Journalism.

The virtual meeting will share examples of what this method looks like in practice. We will also share ideas from Mississippians about topics they think could benefit from this approach.

The Community Foundation wants to know:

  • What do you think of the idea?
  • How does it relate to what you already do?
  • What training and resources would you need to practice more of it?

WHAT: An open, virtual meeting to share examples of Constructive Journalism from overseas, alongside insights from a diverse audience of Mississippians.

WHO: Any and all journalists, reporters, editors, broadcasters, bloggers, podcasters and content creators in Mississippi. Community stakeholders are invited, too.

WHY: To gather feedback, ideas and questions from media members, and to begin forming a network of practical resources for those who are interested.

HOW: Sign up to receive the Zoom meeting invitation by email and be added to future communications about this effort.