Georgia LGBT groups score grants from Elton John AIDS Foundation

The Elton John AIDS Foundation announced on Wednesday more than $5.4 million in new grants to support organizations addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with several Georgia-based organizations among those to land on the list and the state hauling in nearly half a million dollars in grants alone. The Equality Federation of Georgia (Georgia Equality’s sister organization), SPARK Reproductive Justice Now and SisterLove were among the local LGBT groups that scored grants from EJAF.

“With this final grant cycle of 2015, our Foundation makes its largest commitment to ending HIV/AIDS in the 24 years of our work,” said EJAF Chairman (and John’s husband) David Furnish in a statement. “All of us at EJAF recognize that the latest scientific breakthroughs in preventing and treating HIV – including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and definitive proof that Treatment IS Prevention – have afforded us a unique opportunity to make real and lasting change in the course of the epidemic. We believe that today calls for big gestures and bold statements to transform the biomedical progress we’ve made into tangible differences in people’s lives.”

In this grant cycle, the Foundation renewed 38 grants and funded 32 new organizations, with 7 of those grants going to Georgia groups for a total of $455,000.

Here’s a list of the Georgia-based groups who landed the grants, the grant amount and what it will be used for:

Center for the Health of Incarcerated Persons/Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Renewal Grant: $50,000
Grant Name: Planning for Sustained, Unbroken Connections to Care, Entry Services, and Suppression
Grant Goal: To ensure medical care for incarcerated people with HIV.
Organization Description: The Center for the Health of Incarcerated Persons, located within the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, is focused on addressing the health needs of 10 million persons who pass through U.S. jails and prisons each year through demonstration projects, research, and education. The Center is located between the two Atlanta jails served by the Center’s demonstration project: 8 miles from Fulton County Jail and 6 miles from DeKalb County Jail.
Grant Description: With support from EJAF, the Center offers HIV testing in the Fulton County Jail and the DeKalb County Jail and employs two full-time case managers to link 700 HIV-positive detainees to care after release. Through this effort, the Center identifies undiagnosed HIV-positive individuals and links new and previously diagnosed individuals to care. The Center has analyzed and documented its best practices in a formal research study that provides an evidence base for the claim that “discharge planning works” as a cost-effective program in the jail setting. The proven success of this effort has prompted the Fulton County Department of Health to agree to take on the costs of the case management services next year, with the Center continuing to document the cost effectiveness of the program.

Equality Foundation of Georgia, Atlanta, GA
Renewal Grant: $75,000 – Increase from $50,000 in 2014
Grant Name: Georgia HIV Advocacy Network
Grant Goal: To build power among black gay men and youth living with HIV
Organization Description: The Equality Foundation of Georgia’s mission is to advance fairness, safety and opportunity for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities and allies throughout Georgia by: (1) Educating the public, elected officials, and policymakers; (2) Building coalitions and mobilizing allies; (3) Increasing the participation of the LGBT and allied communities; and (4) Organizing and empowering the LGBT community and their allies in urban, suburban, and rural communities.
Grant Description: In addition to providing ongoing support for the Georgia HIV Advocacy Network, this grant helps expand two specific projects: (1) The Blueprint Series: This program brings together and provides support to black gay men; and (2) The Youth HIV Advisers Program: This program trains young people living with HIV on the the political process and empowers them to get involved and become the next generation of HIV advocates. With this funding, The Network seeks to expand its base of young black men and ally advocates in Georgia from 114 to 200 people. The Network organizes ten community activities around specific issues including: criminalization, HIV stigma, access to healthcare, racial inequity, violence, and other structural drivers of HIV among black gay men. The Network is identifying and training 20 exceptional people living with HIV/AIDS under the age of 30 on the basics of HIV, how policies and laws are made, and how policy change is a “structural” intervention for HIV that differs from direct service.

Feminist Women’s Health Center, Inc., Atlanta, GA
New Grant: $55,000
Grant Name: Black Women’s Wellness Initiative
Grant Goal: To educate and empower black women to prevent the spread of HIV
Organization Description: Feminist Women’s Health Center’s mission is to provide accessible, comprehensive gynecological healthcare to all who need it without judgment. The Center works collaboratively to promote reproductive health, rights, and justice and advocates for wellness, uncensored health information, and public policies by educating the community and empowering clients. The Center partners with Care and Counseling Center of Georgia, whose mission is to offer healing, wholeness, and hope to people in need.
Grant Description: Black Women’s Wellness Initiative is a new project for black women at risk or living with HIV. Building on the Center’s health education expertise, project staff offer an HIV and AIDS prevention workshop led by and for black women, one of the fastest growing populations of new HIV diagnoses. Workshops occur regularly in the target communities as well as at the Center. Initiative participants also receive free HIV testing and counseling at the Center. Since relationship dynamics and emotional health affect a woman’s ability to exercise control over her sexual health, Care and Counseling Center of Georgia counselors provide, at no cost to the client, group empowerment and individual coaching as needed to help clients become champions of their health and address mental and behavioral health issues that they face. Initiative clients are empowered through opportunities to engage as volunteers. With this additional training and experience, they may choose to become peer educators or advocates who safeguard rights to access HIV-related and other health services.

Georgia AIDS Coalition, Snellville, GA
Renewal Grant: $50,000 – Increase from $40,000 in 2014
Grant Name: Georgia AIDS Advocacy in Action
Grant Goal: To combine advocacy with HIV prevention and testing
Organization Description: Georgia AIDS Coalition is an activist organization pushing for an effective government response to HIV/AIDS in Georgia.
Grant Description: Georgia AIDS Advocacy in Action brings people living with and affected by HIV in Georgia together, educates them on political issues, and trains them to become part of a larger movment for progressive change. With this EJAF grant, Georgia AIDS Coalition transports 75 activists from Savannah into Atlanta for advocacy with the Georgia state legislature, and continues to work with Savannah healthcare providers to do HIV organizing at the two historically Black universities in that city – Savannah State University and Georgia State University in Savannah.

Georgia State University Foundation, Atlanta, GA
Renewal Grant: $50,000
Grant Name: The Linkage to Care Peer Guide Training Program
Grant Goal: To train peers to help HIV+ persons get linked to medical care
Organization Description: The mission of the Linkage to Care Peer Guide Training Program is to provide people living with HIV/AIDS with the skill sets to help link to care the approximately 40% of HIV+ persons who are not currently in medical care, in collaboration with local Atlanta AIDS service organizations and community-based organizations.
Grant Description: With this EJAF grant, Georgia State University trains a new cohort of 12 HIV-positive Black transgender women and Black young gay men as Peer Guides. These individuals learn to help others in similar circumstances develop the skills and access the medical services needed for staying healthy and continually on HIV treatment. The program then places these trained Peers in internships leading to both paid and volunteer positions with local AIDS service organizations. This is an important effort in supporting a new generation of leaders in the HIV effort in Atlanta.

Racial Justice Action Center, Atlanta, GA
Renewal Grant: $75,000
Grant Name: Solutions Not Punishment Coalition and Campaign
Grant Goal: To improve lives by decreasing police harassment and increasing services
Organization Description: The Racial Justice Action Center collectively envisions a vibrant, inclusive Atlanta that ensures the safety and health of, and holistically meets the needs of, all of the city’s stakeholders and residents by organizing to end the criminalization of transgender and LGBTQ people of color and of people living with HIV/AIDS, and by transforming the policies and culture of the police, our justice system, elected officials, and the larger community.
Grant Description: The Racial Justice Action Center supports and organizes people most affected by criminalization, biased policing, and HIV/AIDS– including trans women of color and those engaged in survival sex work, as well as encouraging the larger community to provide needed support. The Center evaluates and plans a second round of its Trans* Leadership Connection (TLC) Internship Program to build a cadre of powerful, knowledgeable leaders from the communities most impacted who can educate and reach out to an even broader group of people, conduct presentations, and guide the campaign. To maintain and build the Center’s broad coalition, they hold monthly meetings to provide updates, gather input, impart educational information (in the form of teach-ins), and collectively strategize on the campaign. The Center also conducts research, public engagement, and advocacy activities to demand that elected and appointed officials take concrete action to improve the lives of LGBTQ people.

SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, GA
New Grant: $50,000
Grant Name: TLC (Testing and Linkage to Care) Youth Advocacy Campaign
Grant Goal: To increase HIV testing and advocacy efforts for youth and LGBTQ youth in Atlanta
Organization Description: SisterLove Inc.’s mission is to eradicate the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS and other reproductive health challenges on women and their families through education, prevention, support, and human rights advocacy in the United States and around the world.
Grant Description: In 2014, SisiterLove Inc. launched its TLC4ALL (Testing and Linkage to Care for All) campaign, which recognizes that in order to eliminate the health disparities seen throughout the HIV/AIDS pandemic, every person tested for HIV must be linked to some form of care. This means (1) More people must be tested; (2) HIV-negative persons must be linked to programs that maintain negative status; and (3) HIV-positive persons must be linked to treatment immediately and remain in care. As part of a “prevention continuum,” SisterLove Inc. seeks to expand its reach to include more youth, HIV+ youth, and LGBTQ youth. Project activities include: (1) providing free testing and counseling services for 300 youth at risk for HIV; (2) hosting two youth-led Advocacy Days at the Georgia Capitol; (3) hosting 12 youth support groups for youth infected and affected by HIV; (4) engaging 500 youth in advocacy campaign activities online; (5) publishing a policy paper looking at Georgia policies that relate to youth and HIV; and (6) presenting project findings at two youth conferences.

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Atlanta, GA
New Grant: $50,000
Grant Name: Fierce Youth Reclaiming and Empowering (FYRE) Program/Speak Justice Take Action
Grant Goal: To expand the organization’s advocacy and LGBTQ youth leadership development program
Organization Description: SPARK collaborates with individuals, organizations, and communities to build and sustain a powerful reproductive justice movement in Georgia and the South. Most importantly, SPARK ensures the voices of women of color, young parents, and LGBTQ youth of color living in the South are included in the reproductive rights and justice movements.
Grant Description: This grant funds policy work, litigation and advocacy on healthcare-access-related issues, in correlation to HIV-related issues (e.g. discrimination, rights), community organizing (coalition work, leadership development, etc.), as well as media and communications (journalism, film, media, etc.) efforts centered around the LGBTQ youth population. EJAF funding also supports programs that mobilize youth leaders to promote sexual health, healthcare mobilization and access to adequate care. The program provides public education, outreach, and leadership development for queer youth of color, who often are low-income, uninsured individuals and lack access to preventive care and healthcare services, and recruits them to help in the transforming of healthcare in Georgia. The program also builds intergenerational dialogues through advocacy in order to increase partnerships between women of color and LGBTQ youth of color in Georgia.