Southern Empowerment Project
The Southern Empowerment Project (SEP) was created in September 1985 by the Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition and the Carolina Community Project. The program was designed to provide organizational training to interns, mainly from member organizations, and to organize local and regional interest groups. The organizational membership consisted of the Charlotte Organizing Project (CHOP), Citizens Organized to End Poverty in the Commonwealth (CO-EPIC), Community Farm Alliance (CFA), Just Organized Neighborhoods Area Headquarters (JONAH), Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), North Carolina A. Phillip Randolph Institute (APRI), Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM), and Solutions to Issues of Concern to Knoxvillians.
The SEP is a consortium of grassroots organizations that focuses on poverty, environmental issues, voter registration and participation, community organization, political empowerment, health care, job creation, education, class advancement, leadership development at the local level, organizational development, gender equality, women’s rights, civil rights, and neighborhood development. Four of the main objectives of the SEP are: to increase the power of low income Southerners to allow them to deal with issues affecting them; to strengthen local organizations through cooperation and resource sharing; to work cooperatively within states and across state lines on common issues; and to create institutional change and accountability within the region.