Requests for Proposals

Highlander’s Mission
Highlander serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South. We work with people fighting for justice, equality and sustainability, supporting their efforts to take collective action to shape their own destiny. Through popular education, participatory research, and cultural work, we help create spaces — at our center and in local communities — where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible. We develop leadership and help create and support strong, democratic organizations that work for justice, equality and sustainability in their own communities and that join with others to build broad movements for social, economic and restorative environmental change.

Overview of Function of Position

Highlander will contract a total of three Cultural Organizers for residencies within the U.S. South and Appalachia that will fortify issues-based organizing campaigns. As part of the Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Residency Project, these persons shall work from Highlander’s working definition of cultural organizing – the strategic use of art and culture to move progressive policies and practices with marginalized communities. As such, they will engage in learning exchanges with the placement communities; equitably work alongside community organizers and members; transfer skills in their respective artistic disciplines; and ensure that the campaigns are poised for success, and transition in and out of the communities with deep intentionality.

Requests for Proposals

Highlander nurtures the skills of authentic grassroots leadership and helps to build the capacity of marginalized communities across the South. We believe in the power of communities and their ability to identify and address the challenges they face. We also believe in the power of art and culture as tools to dramatize injustice, to visualize freedom and justice for all, and to actualize that vision. Over the course of the next few months, we will match three Cultural Organizers with communities that will result in four-week residencies to support local organizers in the development of cultural tools to help take their current issue campaign to another level.

We are actively soliciting proposals from Cultural Organizers with experience in one or more artistic or cultural disciplines. Preference will be given to those living and working for social justice primarily in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Applicants must be available to start no later than October 1, 2012.

The goals of the Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Residency Project and partnerships include:
Help organizations expand the role of art and culture in their organizing and advocacy efforts
Enrich the work of cultural workers, artists and/or cultural organizers involved by providing a strategic opportunity to engage community issues and to work with and learn from grassroots organizations. Inspire people to develop cultural tools that can help bring more interest and energy to issue campaigns. This could be song, video, performances, paintings or other works of art that draw on local cultures and address community issues and concerns.

To Apply

The Cultural Organizer should submit a proposal with three letters of reference including


Please let us know the following about you:

  1. Your name, company name, postal address, phone number(s) and email address.
  2. Please send a résumé and bio with a list previous arts and cultural residencies and organizing campaigns demonstrating the depth and breadth of your experience. Be sure to highlight how your current and past work have impacted progressive policies and practices and amplified cultural organizing as a methodology.
  3. What would you hope to gain by partnering with Highlander and a southern Community Partner over the course of a four-week residency? How might this project impact your work as a Cultural Organizer?
  4. Besides the timeline, what could you find challenging about this project as described in this request for proposals?
  5. On what social or economic justice issues do you tend to work? How comfortable would you be working beyond those issues?

Proposal Process

Highlander’s Education Team screens proposals and presents a slate to our Community Partners. The Community Partners decide with whom they shall collaborate as a Cultural Organizer. Proposals must be emailed or received in the Highlander office by September 28, 2012 at 12:00pm EST for consideration. Only complete applications including the following will be considered:

Applications will be received any one of the following ways:


Marquez Rhyne
Zilphia Horton Project
1959 Highlander Way, New Market, TN 37820

Fax – 865-933-3424, ATTN: Marquez Rhyne, Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Project

E-mail –

Proposed Selection Process and Timeline

September 2012         Cultural Organizer Selected/Notified
October 2012              Orientation @ Highlander (1 week)
October 2012 – February 2013    Residencies (Actual dates TBD with max. 28 days in Residence)
March 2013                 Evaluation @ Highlander

If you have any additional questions regarding the Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Project in general, or this request for proposals specifically, then please contact Tufara Waller Muhammad at 865.335.2443 or Marquez Rhyne 865.935.4402.