Your donations help place writer mentors in schools.

Individual Giving & Sustaining Membership

Join us in shaping the future of 7,500 Tennessee youth every year in schools and community organizations.

"Youth reimagine and recreate the future every day—right now, in the present. Writing is a way of doing that work of imagining, and also a way of learning your own perspective, of giving it a shape."

Lee Connell, former Southern Word mentor

Gifts of Stock

Giving appreciated stocks and bonds is an easy and tax-wise way to show your support for Southern Word. When you donate stocks and bonds not only do you receive a full income tax deduction based on their current market value, you generally do not have to pay a capital gains tax on your donated investment. More importantly, your gift of stock is an investment in the potential of all Tennessee youth.

Leaders Circle

The Leaders Circle recognizes Southern Word’s most generous benefactors who support this work by donating or raising annual gifts of $500 or more. These individuals and organizations are committed to preparing youth to be powerful communicators, thinkers, and leaders through the vehicles of spoken word poetry, creative writing, and music production. Contact Amber McCullough at 615-337-0283 or to learn more about adding your name to this growing list of community leaders.


Southern Word does not execute any program in isolation. We believe strategic partnerships create greater impact while preventing duplication of services. Leading partners include the Nashville Public Library, Middle Tennessee public schools, TPAC, Vanderbilt, and the Frist Center for Visual Arts. Contact Amber McCullough at 615-337-0283 or if you are interested in becoming a partner in this transformational work.


The evening features performances from youth poets, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and an overview of Southern Word’s impact on students in Tennessee. While the event is free, at the end of the program, we will be asking attendees to invest in the future of Southern Word. The evening will also serve as a celebration to kick-off Southern Word’s 10th year working with youth. While we have demonstrated highly effective tools for youth literacy, engagement, and transformation, there are tens of thousands of youth who are in need of these experiences. If you believe in the limitless potential of our youth, join us. RSVP or learn how you can serve as an event host for the celebration by emailing .

Specialty License Plates

The arts are getting cut from state budgets across America. In Tennessee, we are fortunate to have an additional source of funding. The extra revenue we receive from specialty and personalized license plate sales has been key to funding the arts in Tennessee. More than 70% of the money used to fund the 800+ grants from the Tennessee Arts Commission last year was from the sale of these specialty license plates. Learn more about specialty license plates.

Event Sponsorship

State of the Word
An annual showcase of TN’s top high school & college poets with 4-500 attendees.
High School District Slams
TN’s high school students compete by district w/ winners competing statewide.
Southern Word Grand Slam
District winners compete for top lyrical honors & chance to compete nationally.
Brave New Voices
Winners of the Southern Word Grand Slam compete annually at this prestigious national competition in July. It costs $7500 to provide our youth this rare and transformative opportunity.

Middle School Slam
TN’s middle school students take their first steps as artists and presenters.
College Slam
College students compete as an opportunity to build community.
Black History House
A celebration of African-American past, present, & future at the East Branch Library.
Golf Classic
This annual golf scramble provides a chance to have fun & support Southern Word’s work.


CHAMPIONS ($10,000+)
Metro Arts: Nashville Office of Arts & Culture
Tennessee Arts Commission
Nashville Public Library Foundation
Nashville Public Library
Poetry Foundation
Metro Nashville Public Schools
Metro Action Commission
Stratford STEM Magnet
The Dan & Margaret Maddox Fund
Nashville State Community College
United Way of Greater Nashville
The Frist Foundation
Humanities Tennessee
Vanderbilt Behavioral Health
The Big Ben Fund
Community Foundation of Middle TN

Gateway Elementary
I.T. Creswell Middle
Jones-Paideia Elementary Magnet
LEAD Public Schools
Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet
Memorial Foundation
Robert K and Anne H Zelle Fund for Education
Robert K. and Anne H. Zelle Fund for Fine and Performing Arts

FAMILY ($2,500+)
Antioch Middle Prep
Harpeth Hall
Hillsboro PTSO
Hillwood High School
Ida F. Cooney Fund for the Arts of CFMT
Lawson High School
Nashville School of the Arts
The Omni Family of Services
Thurgood Marshall Middle Prep
Warner Elementary
Wright Middle

PARTNERS ($1,000+)
Christine Barnes
Andrew Allen Charitable Foundation
Angela Dittrich
Center for Languages at Vanderbilt
Country Music Television
Franklin High School
Hillsboro High School PTSO
Mr. and Mrs. William B King, King Family Advised Fund of CFMT
Kaila Gilbert
Target Circle
Tom Joy Elementary
Metro Human Relations Commission
McGavock High School
Parnassus Books
Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation
Anderson & Katie Williams
Dakasha Winton

FRIENDS ($500+)
Joel Alex & Lauren Bailey
Baker Donelson
Bass, Berry, & Sims
Tom & Kathy Bendheim
Blum Family Foundation
J.A. Bucy
Shani and Randy Dowell
Laurie and Steven Eskind
Jennifer Frasier
Lili Hudson
Hank Likins
Martin & Zerfoss
Kent and Dianne Oliver
Arthur Randolph II
Elaine and Robert Smyth Fund
The Solomon Group
Kirk and Amy Tanksley
TN Association of Mental Health Organization
Lynn Walker
Amy and Overton Colton, Colton Family Advised Fund
Bruce Zeitlin

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