SOJOURN Receives $20,000 to Create New LGBT Programming in the Southeast


A new educational partnership between SOJOURN and award-winning documentary filmmakers from GroundSpark to launch in February, 2015

Atlanta, GA — The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Mandel Foundation to create new gender and sexual diversity educational programming in partnership with the national documentary filmmaking and education non-profit, GroundSpark.

Programming will take place throughout the Southeast, including Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Blue Ridge, GA; and Asheville, NC, and will be centered around GroundSpark's "Respect for All" documentary films, including:

                    Let's Get Real:  a look at bullying and bias through the eyes of  middle school-aged youth;

                    Straightlaced – How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up: an exploration of how gender roles and sexuality pressures impact teens;

                    That’s A Family!: An exploration of what children growing up in a wide range of family structures would like classmates to know about their families;

                    It’s Elementary – Talking About Gay Issues in School: an exploration of how all   young children are affected by anti-gay stigma and the role adults can play to ensure every student is safe and welcomed at school.

Rebecca Stapel-Wax, executive director of SOJOURN says, “GroundSpark's film are the perfect complement to the work that SOJOURN does throughout the Southeast. They tackle issues surrounding gender normativity and identity, homophobia, and family relationships in a real, down-to-earth way. Each documentary features children and teens who are living these experiences daily.”

"We are thrilled to be able to reach new audiences in the south through this partnership with SOJOURN," adds GroundSpark's president, Academy-award winner, Debra Chasnoff. "There is exciting work happening now in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama to support all students to be their best, fullest selves. We are honored that our films, curricula, and professional development programs will be utilized to expand that work even further."

Initial programs are scheduled for February 19-23 at a combination of public school districts, independent schools, and Jewish community organizations. Details can be found on SOJOURN’s website,



The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) promotes increased understanding and acceptance of individuals across the spectrum of gender and sexual orientation in the Southeast through education, outreach and advocacy, inspired by Jewish and universal ethics and ideals.



GroundSpark creates visionary films and dynamic educational campaigns that move individuals and communities to take action for a more just world. Its lead program, The Respect for All Project, facilitates the development of inclusive, bias-free schools and communities by providing media resources, support and training to youth, educators and service providers.



Funding for this project is made possible by the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund.  The fund’s mission has been to promote social justice work by providing grant money to leading progressive organizations. The current focus of The Fund is to support organizations that advocate for LGBT rights on a global, national, and local scale. The Fund has increased its grantmaking efforts, sometimes in collaboration with other funders, in this the South. The Fund’s grantmaking focuses on both Jewish and general organizations that advocate for LGBT equality. 




Robbie Medwed

Robbie Medwed began working with SOJOURN when it was known as The Rainbow Center as a volunteer in 2008. He served as chair of the TRC Advisory Board and as co-chair of Purim off Ponce (2010, 2011) before moving into his current role as Assistant Director, where he oversees SOJOURN's educational programming and outreach, including our award-winning workshops and training seminars. Robbie holds a master's degree in Jewish education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has written curricula and nationally-recognized inclusive programs for the Marcus JCC of Atlanta, BBYO, USY, Camp Ramah, the Jewish Teen Funders Network, Babaganewz, and JewishGPS. Robbie is also a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and cyclist. Robbie can be reached at