Capacity Building in Action: The Pride Center at Equality Park

by Haneen Elfaki

Non-profits are essential organizations that rely heavily on volunteers, donations, and grants to continue their work in the community. However, an often-overlooked factor in the success of these organizations is their ability to engage in capacity building. Capacity building is the process of strengthening an organization’s ability to achieve its goals. This can include training staff, investing in technology, and building relationships with other organizations and the community. 

Capacity building for non-profits helps them become more efficient and effective in their work. By investing in training and technology, staff can become more knowledgeable about their organization’s mission and more productive in their work. Building relationships with other organizations and the community can help non-profits gain more exposure and support, as well as access to resources they may not have otherwise. Through COMPASS’ capacity building grant, many organizations have benefited from the additional support and technical assistance for their organizations; therefore, allowing for improved processes that helps them continue impactful work in their communities and joining COMPASS in the combined efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the South. The Pride Center at Equality Park shares just how impactful the capacity building grant was on their organization.  

Image 1. Two of the Center staff, Dani (Bilingual Wellness Navigation Coordinator) and Malik (HIV Testing & Outreach Specialist), working an outreach table at a health fair event where the Center passed out service literature, free condoms, and free home HIV test kits.

The Pride Center at Equality Park is a large LGBTQ+ Community Center that has been serving the South Florida community for 30 years. They serve a very diverse community of racial and ethnic backgrounds, gay, bisexual and same gender loving individuals, people of transgender and non-binary experience, and persons  with HIV/AIDS. In the US, the LGBTQ+ community has been exposed to alarmingly high levels of identity-based traumatic stress due to sexual and gender identity bias, discrimination and hate crimes. The Pride Center recognizes that to make a shift in systemic and institutionalized discrimination, organizations must change and evolve to meet the needs of a very vulnerable population. 

In an effort to evolve and meet the needs of those they serve, the Pride Center staff attend regular training courses to increase skills and knowledge. Some of those trainings include diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings for all staff in an effort to make a stronger organizational shift toward racial justice. The Capacity Building Grant helped the organization build on that momentum by offering their risk counselors advanced skills in a CDC-led Motivational Interviewing training and offering the entire staff Trauma Informed Care training.  

Photo from a town hall series the Center produced called The Intersection of Lust, Love, and Stigma. The series focused on stigma, HIV testing and treatment, and the impact of trauma related to living with HIV and with stigma. This photo was from the 2nd in the 4-part series subtitled: A Mile in Their Shoes.

By the end of the grant period, the Center had 10 risk counselors trained in both basic and intermediate-level motivational interviewing; all staff members participated in 10 hours of Trauma-Informed Care training. In addition, the Center took the opportunity to use some of the funds to have their organizational chart, employee handbook, and client level documents reviewed to ensure that they were in compliance with the Trauma-Informed Care model.  

The skills and knowledge from these trainings greatly improve the ability of their staff to provide stronger counseling and supportive services to the community. These enhanced skills permit the staff to make informed decisions and participate in open conversations when working with the community, therefore creating a safe space for community members to receive assistance and support. Moreover, additional funds from the grant were used to launch a trauma campaign in the community on public benches and bus stop shelters with resources for those experiencing trauma in the South Florida community. 

Funds from this project were used to launch a community awareness campaign around trauma. This is an image of one of our trauma posters out in the community on a public park bench. This project had 10 public benches and 10 bus stop shelter posters up for four weeks raising trauma awareness in Broward County.

The Pride Center leadership is committed to continued staff training and development as part of the overall capacity building strategic plan. They are in the early stages of moving towards a trauma-informed care organization and additional staff trainings will be essential for this transition. Overall, capacity building is essential for non-profits to be successful in their work. Investing in additional staff trainings and relationships with professional consultants can help non-profit organizations become more efficient and effective, and ultimately make a greater impact in the community.  

The COMPASS 2023 Capacity Building Grants are now open for applications if your organization is interested in strengthening and expanding your nonprofit. Click here for the application

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