Interfaith HIV and AIDS Capacity Building Grant Opportunity
August 15, 2022
Interfaith America and Wake Forest University School of Divinity through the Gilead COMPASS (COMmitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Southern States) Initiative are working to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States, includ Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Interfaith America is pleased to offer grants to university interfaith leaders to facilitate community-wide learning and develop curricular or co-curricular programs on the HIV/AIDS crisis in the South.
Applications for the Interfaith HIV and AIDS Capacity Building grant are now open and will be accepted on a rolling basis until October 14.
Here is a roundup of last year’s recipients of the Interfaith HIV and AIDS Capacity Building grant and their projects:
Tougaloo College’s HIV/AIDS project employed several community partnerships and campus-wide initiatives aimed at equipping individuals with accurate information about HIV/AIDS, providing opportunities for timely, confidential testing, and cultivating peer support around the issue. In implementing interdisciplinary educational opportunities for students and staff, Tougaloo held 5 major in-person events, hosted several online opportunities, and distributed a wealth of informational pamphlets, data sheets, and condoms. Both G.A. Carmichael Family Health Services and the campus’s Owens Health and Wellness Center partnered with Tougaloo to provide comprehensive STI testing for students and faculty, including confidential HIV testing. Tougaloo also partnered with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Gamma Psi chapter and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. to distribute HIV/AIDS fact sheets and condoms on National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Day and to host an engaging panel discussion focused on the topics of abstinence and safer sex practices. Similarly, Tougaloo distributed information guides and over 100 condoms on National Black HIV Awareness Day and during National Condom Week. Leaders of the project also began foundational work aimed at codifying a written policy prohibiting discrimination against HIV+ individuals at Tougaloo. Additionally, the project mobilized peer support to break down common barriers to HIV testing such as stress, fear, and social stigma; peer educators worked to combat misinformation around HIV/AIDS, recruited others to become active in the project, and accompanied several students to testing appointments, providing a welcome comfort of peer support in the face of health- and stigma-based anxieties.
The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has done foundational work in addressing the enduring stigma around HIV/AIDS and equipping individuals with the tools and information necessary to provide effective prevention and treatment to those impacted by the epidemic. The Miller School’s HIV/AIDS project centers principally around engaging student faith-based organizations in fundamentally changing the conversation around HIV/AIDS and working to construct an interfaith theology around this topic. A primary goal of the project is to enhance the capacity of student faith leaders to respond to the needs of their local community and address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Miami Dade County. They have begun developing a comprehensive training and discussion centered on educating individuals about the reality of the virus and best practices for prevention and treatment. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has received an extension grant to continue this work and host continuing events, such as an HIV/AIDS-focused town hall bringing together students, religious leaders, local churches, and health ministries, in the fall of 2022.
Stillman College’s HIV/AIDS programming included numerous information sessions, testing services, and various events centered on reimagining the conversation around HIV/AIDS from a welcoming and religiously grounded perspective. Project leaders found that many individuals on campus wanted accurate, comprehensive information regarding HIV/AIDS, but felt unsure or uncomfortable seeking it out. To address this barrier, Stillman partnered with Five Horizons, Maude Whatley, and the Balm in Gilead to host five small group sessions in the college dormitories and one larger session in the campus student center that worked to effectively dispel myths and misinformation about the virus and bring accessible, accurate information to participants. Stillman College also partnered extensively with the on-campus church to foster conversation around understanding, destigmatization, and advocacy for those affected by HIV/AIDS. At Stillman’s campus-wide health fair, project leaders featured HIV/AIDS and further distributed information and provided testing to students, faculty, staff, and community members. Project leaders also organized a culminating event entitled HIV/AIDS, Black Folk, and the Church, in which the campus chaplain preached about the importance of extending love and acceptance to those affected by the virus, several experts hosted an informative panel session, and the parent of an HIV+ individual gave a powerful testimony to the ground-breaking capabilities of faith-based initiatives. At the conclusion of the programming, one HIV+ individual reached out to Stillman’s project leaders to express their gratitude for the project and reaffirm their commitment to treatment after a period of disillusionment and anxiety that was largely quelled by Stillman College’s HIV/AIDS initiatives.
Southern University and A&M College HIV/AIDS project integrated the capabilities of education and faith centers to provide students with accurate, comprehensive information about HIV/AIDS and foster inclusive, uplifting conversation about reducing stigma and encouraging effective prevention and treatment. Project leaders visited a total of 23 classes throughout the semester and spoke with students about the importance of utilizing protective sex methods and connecting them to written resources about the virus. Southern University and A&M College also hosted a collaborative Health Fair that brought together various churches across numerous denominations and partnered with the Louisiana Health and Human Resources Association to provide a variety of health services, including testing for COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. Additionally, project leaders participated in Interfaith America’s Instagram Live series and hosted a Zoom discussion in collaboration with Livingstone College and ministers of AME churches confronting some of the common barriers to testing and communication issues within church communities. During National AIDS Week, Southern University and A&M College also hosted an on-campus “rap session” engaging student leaders, faculty, ministers, and other church leaders in conversation around HIV/AIDS.
Fayetteville State University engaged in a variety of programming efforts that engaged the campus community in conversation around the topic of HIV/AIDS and addressed common sources of stigma and barriers to preventative measures. In collaboration with community partners, FSU hosted a “Stop the Stigma” event that facilitated conversation, connected individuals to counselling and health resources, and altogether allowed students, staff, and community members to come together in support of destigmatization and addressing the specific needs of underserved African American populations in Fayetteville, North Carolina. A panel discussion that provided statistics and information, emphasized the importance of prevention activities such as condom use, testing, and care-seeking behavior, and candidly addressed the perception and treatment of of People Living with HIV by communities, families, and partners was hosted at the event. Over 100 FSU students and faculty attended this “Stop the Stigma” event, and all attendees received a branded t-shirt intended to continue sparking conversation and reducing HIV/AIDS stigma. In addition to this event, project leaders also leveraged partnerships with the FSU Student Association of Black Social Workers, the Cumberland County Public Health Department, and the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center to bring together faith leaders, health officials, students, and faculty in support of open conversation and dispersing accurate information and resources, including testing services and the distribution of condoms, informational brochures, and other giveaway materials. FSU hosted a town hall, panel, and student focus group centered around the belief that faith-based organizations can be integral to decreasing the risk of infection and offering preventative interventions through their socio-cultural influence and wide community reach. A series of pre- and post-programming surveys administered to students showed great appreciation of the project from the campus community and interest in continuing informative HIV/AIDS programming in the future.
Livingstone College’s HIV/AIDS project engaged campus resources, community partners, and religious leaders to host a variety of community events and promote HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and foster positive conversation around personal and community health. Project leaders distributed informative literature, provided testing, and spread campus awareness on their Fifth Sunday Fellowship, Healing From the Pulpit, World AIDS Day, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events. They also organized a five-day HIV/AIDS Prayer Week led by campus ministries and partnered with the Salisbury District Women’s Homes and Overseas Missionary Society to host an HIV/AIDS information session for senior citizens. In addition to these keystone events, every month, Livingstone College held accessible STI/HIV/AIDS informational sessions for students, in which campus nurses and certified HIV/AIDS screeners visited every residence hall at the institution to distribute condoms, provide testing, and facilitate open and honest conversation. These initiatives were well-received by students, who quickly spread the word and garnered anticipation for these comprehensive and informative events.
McMurry University facilitated a far-reaching and ongoing partnership with Big Country AIDS Resources (BCAR), a regional organization dedicated to providing service and advocacy to people living with HIV/AIDS. Together, the organizations established a McCurry student worker position at BCAR, placed two McCurry students at BCAR as interns, and elected a project staff member to the BCAR Board of Directors. Additionally, project leaders organized several major events aimed at reducing HIV/AIDS stigma and uplifting LGBTQIA+ individuals within the campus community. This included an informative World AIDS Day ceremony and vigil that served as a community partnership between McCurry, BCAR, Abilene Christian University’s Pride Alliance, and the Metropolitan Community Church, a gala event entitled “A Sordid Evening” that benefited BCAR and the Abilene Pride Alliance, and intercampus “Queer Prom” event co-hosted with Abilene Christian and Hardin Simmons University, which was attended by over 130 students. Through these initiatives, project leaders at McCurry University effectively employed narrative community organizing methods to amplify the work of the BCAR, spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and related issues throughout campus, and lay the foundation for ongoing partnerships and collaborations that serve the needs of LGBTQIA+ campus and community members.
Dillard University utilized the CLEAR Whole Person Care Model and resources from the Balm in Gilead to provide interdisciplinary, comprehensive education and support for students, specifically serving Black young adults affected in some way by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Project leaders created three counselor-led collective group sessions in which students came together in conversation around the topics of sexuality, stigma, grief, and faith. Dillard also trained peer student mentors, many of whom connected their peers to support resources through these sessions.
North Carolina Central University hosted a series of events focused on facilitating beneficial dialogue and distributing accurate, useful information about HIV/AIDS. After each event, testing was provided to students, and event participants were able to create on-campus spaces for further discussion and peer education surrounding HIV/AIDS. Events included dinner dialogues and HIV training sessions, attended by over 50 students, in which the discussions of HIV prevention methods such as safer sex and condom usage, as well as overall data and facts about the spread of the virus, were led by a campus professor. “This Far by Faith,” another initiative pioneered by project leaders, connected spirituality and religion to the campus conversation around HIV/AIDS by providing religious and spiritual resources for students, hosting an informative Q&A session, and bringing in interfaith ambassadors to share their person stories about faith and HIV.
HIV/AIDS project leaders at Tuskegee University worked to provide awareness, testing, and education materials to their local Macon County community and surrounding black belt communities through a series of initiatives aimed at increasing the knowledge base and sharing accurate information about HIV/AIDS. On World AIDS Day, they hosted a roundtable discussion via Zoom featuring Bishop Joyce Kelley Turner, an HIV+ positive individual and religious leader. Tuskegee University also partnered with community partners from the Selma Air health clinic and the Montgomery AIDS Outreach organization to host a series of Health and Wellness events on campus and distribute informative HIV/AIDS literature to students and faculty. Testing was provided at these Health and Wellness events, and literature was distributed at the Tuskegee University Student Health Center as well as at community partner sites in Selma, Montgomery, and across Macon County. Altogether, Tuskegee University project leaders utilized these initiatives to offer accessible testing services, provide information to students, and overall reduce HIV/AIDS stigma and increase awareness of the epidemic amongst rural southern black belt communities.
Interfaith HIV and AIDS Capacity Building Grant
Grants are available to university interfaith leaders to facilitate community-wide learning and develop curricular or co-curricular programs on the HIV/AIDS crisis in the South.