Emory Boosts South’s Capacity to Fight HIV

How the Emory COMPASS Coordinating Center’s Capacity Building Grant Strengthens Organizations Fighting HIV in the South

In 2020, the Emory COMPASS Coordinating Center in introduced the Capacity Building Grant to support organizations AIDs service organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs) that prioritize HIV/AIDS prevention or care services. This grant supports activities focused on growing organizations to their next level of operational, programmatic, financial, or organizational maturity.

Learn more about the Capacity Building Grant.

This February marks the 4th annual Capacity Building Grant cycle; to celebrate this milestone COMPASS is highlighting past community partners, and how the CBG grant positively impacted their organizations, clients, and community.

Meet The Afiya Center

Dallas, TX

The Afiya Center is a woman-centered organization that addresses the unique needs of Black womxn and transgender/gender non-conforming people (TGNC) through public health education, policy advocacy, and leadership development. “We unapologetically advocate in the areas of HIV, maternal morality, abortion access, and the decriminalization of Black bodies. Using a reproductive justice framework, we work to dismantle harmful policies and systems that directly impact the lives of Black womxn and girls.”

The Afiya Center was founded in 2008, with the mission of bringing education and resources to black women living with HIV/AIDS. Over the past 13 years, the center continues to expand their services and programs aimed at removing stigma from discussions of sexual healthcare. The Capacity Building Grant, developed by the Emory University Coordinating Center, helped the Center hire a development and sustainability consultant who led the planning and facilitation of our board retreat, board leadership development training and the strategic planning process.


“The Capacity Building Grant really helped us to reimagine what our HIV programming would look like and helped to develop a solid plan to elevate our HIV work to a new level.”

Afiya Center staff stated, “Overall, our experience with the Emory Coordinating Center through the entire grant cycle was relatively seamless.  Our project officer was responsive, supportive and provided the guidance we needed to meet the deliverables for this project. Through the strategic planning process, we were able to identify very specific long term program goals that will ensure transformative leadership and building power among Black women living with HIV in the communities we serve.”

The impact of the Capacity Building Grant allowed the Center to examine the overall effectiveness and future sustainability of the organization. The hiring of the development and sustainability consultant coupled with the extensive research needed to actualize the components of their strategic plan and leadership development of their board has already proven to be an invaluable asset to the growth and direction of the organization. Afiya Center leadership believes that, “having a solid plan to guide us through future organization growth will help us remain a reliable resource and trusted community partner in our fight to achieve racial and health justice for Black women.”


Columbus Wellness Center Outreach and Prevention Project, Inc.

Columbus, Georgia 

Columbus Wellness Center Outreach and Prevention Project, Inc. is a non-profit organization established during the early 1990’s to support young expectant mothers newly diagnosed with HIV.  Columbus Wellness Center’s focus is on serving the whole family and the whole community.  Organizational experience in the following areas has been an asset to achieving the work needed:

    • Formerly providing cancer education awareness, referrals and assistant for mammograms to the uninsured and underinsured of West Central Georgia; HIV Testing/continuum of care referrals;
    • (Swagga and Lace Initiative) youth development programs, partnering with Sumter County School District, Stewart County School District, Muscogee County Regional Youth Detention Center and faith-based organizations;
    • Serving individuals living a positive life with support, educational and recreational programs that are creative using grassroots approaches, example: Mental Health Monday Drive-byes during the mandatory shelter in place.

Over the years it has been Columbus Wellness Center’s best practice to encourage clients and youth to join the team as advocates, consultants, or team members. This is evident with our newly developed seminar to address HIV Stigma in rural communities with our ingenious “Biscuits and Brushes” in which participants enjoy biscuits, paint and receive HIV education.   After attending the session, a participant said, “I feel like I just had a psychiatric visit that lifted my burdens for a while”.

The Capacity Building Grant helped the Columbus Wellness Center receive help needed during this unprecedented time of fear and uncertainty for non-profits agencies serving individuals living a positive life.

The Center used these funds to work with Blended Measures Consulting of Atlanta, Georgia, and consultant Kathie deNobriga of Pine Lakes, Georgia. Blended Measures Consulting completed a SWOT analysis, obtaining feedback from our external and internal stakeholders and addressed our strategic goals. This analysis reinforced known issues, improvements needed and other details. Columbus Wellness Center was also able to identify and supply templates and timelines for their completion. Kathie deNobriga provided a grant writing workshop for rural partners and CWCOPP team members.


“The Capacity Building Grant’s impact on CWCOPP improved our skills in grant writing, and aided in additional awards being successfully received, improved our Board of Directors commitment, and allowed us to start our 2026 strategic planning and initiate an operating recovery policy.”


Meet Five Horizons Health Services

West Alabama and East Mississippi

Five Horizons Health Services is a nonprofit community-based organization that provides services to West Alabama and East Mississippi. Five Horizons’ service area spans twenty-six counties with many of those being considered rural. The ‘Five’ in Five Horizons refers to the agency’s pillars of service: 1) Medical Care, 2) Prevention, 3) Supportive Services, 4) Research, and 5) Advocacy. Under each of these pillars is a broader span of services.

Five Horizons opened a new location the Starkville, MS location in 2020. They used the Capacity Building Grant to assist in getting the word out about this new location “This grant stood out to our organization because it offered funds to aid in the opening of our location in Starkville, MS. It is a huge endeavor to open a new location, but these funds eased the burden placed on the agency,” says Emily Hall, Five Horizons Health Services’s Assistant Director of Development. These funds allowed them to increase their communications capacity; They could now use a variety of communication platforms to share more information about our agency and services to the Starkville community and broader service area.

Example of communication activities: such as ads on the Gay Ad Network, print materials for local businesses and colleges, and the creation of a network of community members that are advocates for our agency.


“This grant was instrumental in the success that the agency is seeing today. Our connections within the Starkville community were formed due to this funding that allowed our Executive Director to network and form partnerships.”

Individuals who needed services were able to hear about Five Horizons through the ads and print materials that this grant funded. This funding helped Five Horizons begin  seeing impact in the East Mississippi region. The lessons learned from the marketing that was handled by this grant have allowed Five Horizons to reach new depths within the community today.


“The COMPASS initiative is a phenomenal program that provides necessary resources to organizations in the South. The experience overall was great!”


Interested in the 2022 Capacity Building Grant?

Good News, the 2022 CBG cycle currently open and still accepting applications! The deadline to apply is February 27, 2022 at 11:59PM EST.

Learn More about the Capacity Building Grant.

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