We gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana with our 2019 Transformative Grant Partners (TGP) on February 20th -21st for our first annual convening. The two-day event included plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and various speakers from the three Coordinating Centers (Emory Rollins School of Public Health, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC)) and distinguished guests. We kicked off the meeting with a quintessential New Orleans tradition, an exciting second line performance. Check out the video:
One of the plenary sessions on Day 1, a crowd favorite to say the least, focused on the importance of meaningfully involving people living with HIV/AIDS (MIPA) and applying a racial justice focus to the work that we all do. Key discussions included how HIV is a racial justice issue, the levels of racism that exist throughout society, what MIPA is and is not, and ways to integrate MIPA principles into community organizations.
Each of the Coordinating Centers also facilitated individual breakout sessions focusing on organizational capacity building, mental health & trauma-informed care, and HIV-related stigma reduction. Our community partners were able to get tailored support with the next steps of implementing their Transformative Grant projects, including programmatic planning, evaluation plan development, and building opportunities to learn from other organizations funded for similar projects.
Between breakout sessions, our community partners and the COMPASS Initiative® team got the chance to have some fun in the photo booth with New Orleans-inspired props and unique Southern state cut-outs.
The second day of plenary sessions focused on communication strategies and ‘telling your story’. This session was led by four community partners who previously received SPARK! funding and showcased their unique and diverse communication-related work. They shared information about increasing organizational visibility, creating communication/social media platforms, and fostering digital discussions with the community. TGP meeting attendees learned about new technological strategies to communicate and share messages with targeted audiences, like using geofencing, geofilters, and service locators. Another platform to facilitate digital discussion is ‘Poll Everywhere’ that we used as a fun method to engage with our audience during the convening.
To wrap up the convening, Marvin Anderson, Communications Manager at SAC, gave an empowering, engaging, and uplifting closing statement. He electrified the crowd with his speech about the intertwined narrative of Gilead Science’s beginnings, the Transformers (yes, those Transformers), and the early progression of the HIV epidemic. Marvin urged all Transformative Grant Partners to continue the great work they are doing in the community for people living with HIV and to #TransformtheSouth by activating their gifts through their work and Transformative Grants. “Transformers, activate!”
Are you an organization working to end the impact of the HIV epidemic in the South? Do you want to help #TransformtheSouth? Consider applying for one of our grants, trainings, or shared learning opportunities. Also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to stay updated with all things COMPASS!