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The Southern Rural Development Initiative, a 15-year-old nonprofit organization that promotes racial and economic justice in the South, will close Feb. 20 because of lack of funding.

A letter from the organization’s board of directors says the closure is due to “the current economic crisis and the uncertain funding climate.”

SRDI began in the early 1990s to bring additional private and public investment into hard-hit rural communities throughout the South. Most recently the organization has focused on building philanthropic resources for rural communities, strengthening grassroots organizations working on racial and economic justice in the South, and analyzing the impact on rural communities of federal funding priorities.

Board member Sandra Mikush, deputy director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, told the Philanthropy Journal that SRDI’s closing reflected the failure of foundations and government funders to pay adequate attention to rural issues. “There is so little support for rural areas,” she said.

Alan McGregor, SRDI’s executive director, said that the organization received strong support from the Babcock and the Ford foundations but that, “in the end, that didn’t add up to be enough to sustain us at the level where we could really accomplish the mission we’d set out.”

Seven staff members located in Raleigh and Asheville, N.C., will lose their jobs as a result of the closure. The organization had a $700,000 annual operating budget.

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