Mission and Vision


SEF’s Mission:

Founded in 1867 as the George Peabody Education Fund, the Southern Education Foundation’s mission is to advance equity and excellence in education for all students in the South, particularly low income students and students of color. SEF uses collaboration, advocacy, and research to improve outcomes from early childhood to adulthood.  Our core belief is that education is the vehicle by which all students get fair chances to develop their talents and contribute to the common good.

SEF’s Vision: 

We seek a South and a nation with a skilled workforce that sustains an expanding economy, where civic life embodies diversity and democratic values and practice.  We will be known for our commitment to combating poverty and inequality through education.

SEF strives to fulfill its mission through the following core program areas: promoting early learning opportunitiesadvancing public education and improving college access and completion.  SEF executes five primary strategies across our programs:

  • Leveraging knowledge of the field: by establishing and operating task forces, work groups, and learning communities to organize knowledge and advance new solutions to long-standing problems;
  • Putting good ideas to a fair test: promoting, conducting, and using demonstrations, pilots, and research and analysis to shape policy and practice;
  • Mobilizing the public: through direct engagement to educate and organize, providing research, tools, and in some cases capital assistance to organizations for advancing education through policy and practice reforms that improve learning opportunities for vulnerable children and youth; 
  • Leadership development: training the next generation of change agents focused on equity in education in the South through fellowships from undergraduate to mid-career; and
  • Communications as a change strategy: conducting and commissioning research and messaging campaigns to support progressive public policy and practice reforms in education, from early learning through higher education.

Learn more about Why the South is important to improving opportunity and achievement gaps for the nation.

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