Shared Learning Opportunities allow organizations to come together and collaboratively build their organization’s infrastructure, learn best practices from other colleagues, and connect with subject matter experts. Three different shared learning opportunities are offered through the COMPASS Initiative: Pilot Partners, The PoWER Institute, and LEARN. Pilot Partners is led by Southern AIDS Coalition and provides an opportunity for six (6) organizations annually to co-facilitate these interventions in their community. The PoWER Institute is led by Emory University Rollins School of Public Health consists of 3-6 month cohorts of agencies receiving intensive capacity building and organizational development assistance from expert staff and coaches in various areas of organizational capacity. LEARN is an intensive strategy for supporting organizations with transforming organizational practice over the course of a six (6) month period, lead by the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.

Applications are currently closed for Pilot Partners. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out when applications open.

There is a pronounced need to design, implement, and evaluate interventions to reduce HIV-related stigma for people living with HIV (PLHIV). This need is greatest in the Deep South, a subset of nine (9) states that is a significant driver of the HIV epidemic in the United States. PLHIV in the Deep South experience considerable HIV-related stigma. This stigma, particularly when internalized, is associated with negative health outcomes, including poorer medication adherence and missed medical appointments. Consequently, fewer Southerners living with HIV receive timely medical care and treatment, fewer have their virus suppressed, and a disproportionate number are missing out on the opportunity to preserve their health and avoid transmitting the virus to their partners. Mortality in the South remains alarmingly high as a result, with death rates in some southern states reaching nearly three times higher than the national average.

The Southern AIDS Coalition is seeking to partner with four (4) community-based organizations to implement and evaluate the following HIV-related stigma reduction interventions:

1. LEAD (Leadership, Education, and Advocacy Development) Academy: A retreat-style health promotion intervention (spanning 2 nights and 2.5 days) designed to combat HIV-related stigma by training PLHIV to be leaders, educators, and advocates in their communities. The curriculum was created by and for people living with HIV in the South, and all content is delivered in-person and on-site by PLHIV in conjunction with subject matter experts and local partners. Upon completion of the LEAD Academy, participants graduate as “Southern LEADers” with advanced knowledge of HIV, real-world experience with advocacy, and the skills to serve as leaders and trusted sources of information within their communities. LEAD Academy is most appropriate for PLHIV who already understand the basic facts of HIV transmission and advocacy and who are ready to serve as leaders within their communities.

2. Younity Workshop: A two-session group-level intervention that teaches PLHIV techniques and skills to reduce internalized HIV-related stigma. The intervention is based on the HIV Stigma Toolkit developed by the International Center for Research on Women, and the materials were originally adapted for use among women in the United States by researchers at the University of Washington. We have further adapted the intervention for use among men in the U.S. South. Younity Workshop is most appropriate for PLHIV who are newly diagnosed or who are struggling to accept their HIV diagnosis


Criteria Description
Geographic Location Applicants must be located in and doing work in one of nine (9) Deep South states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas.
Non-Profit Status Applications must be non-profit, tax-exempt organizations as set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Applicants that do not hold 501(c)(3) status must have a fiscal sponsor to apply.
Capacity to Recruit Participants Partner organizations must have the capacity to recruit at least 46 people living with HIV to participate in the interventions: sixteen (16) for LEAD Academy and thirty (30) for Younity Workshop. Please note: participants cannot participate in both interventions. The majority of participants should be people of color, but other people living with HIV are permitted to participate.
Willingness to Assign Point Person Partner organizations must designate one (1) staff person to serve as the official point person for this partnership. The staff person is expected to assist with all logistics, lead recruitment efforts, and actively participate in regular phone calls with SAC and other partners.

2019 Pilot Partners

AIDS Alabama
AIDS Alabama devotes its energy and resources statewide to helping people with HIV/AIDS live healthy, independent lives and works to prevent the spread of HIV.
AIDS Service Coalition
Hattiesburg, MS
ASC is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide services and support to those persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Partners in Caring
Wilmington, NC
Partners in Caring (PIC) supports people living with HIV and empowers communities to prevent future HIV infections by educating, serving, and training. Through dynamic, community-based programming, we increase dialogue about HIV and substance use. Furthermore, our case-management services connect people living with HIV to resources and spiritual care.
Thrive SS
Atlanta, GA
The mission of the THRIVE SS is to improve health equity for Black gay men living with HIV through direct support, advocacy, and building collective power.

Applications for our PoWER Institute are currently closed. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out when applications open.

The PoWER (Partners Working for Enhanced Results) Institute is the Emory COMPASS Coordinating Center’s most intensive strategy for assisting organizations with transforming organizational practice, improving systems and operations, and ensuring data driven service outcomes. The primary goal of the PoWER Institute is to move organizations to the next level of organizational expansion and sustainability through an examination of work flow, internal operations, organizational structure, governance and leadership and program management. A second important goal of the PoWER Institute is to strengthen community networks through enhanced collaboration between participating organizations as they seek improvements in shared topic areas. Participating organizations must demonstrate a commitment to improve the functioning of their organizations and possess the foundational leadership and infrastructure to lead and support associated organizational changes.

The PoWER Institute’s “PoWER Up for Organizational Success” is a 3-month intensive collaborative learning opportunity for emerging organizations interested in enhancing their infrastructure. Our design features a combination of in-person sessions, web-based trainings, and individualized consultations with a Capacity Building Coach. The intent of PoWER Up is to help participating organizations learn how to: 1) Assess areas in need of improvement within their organizations, 2) Develop a work plan to address those concerns, 3) Implement a change management strategy, and 4) Learn how to become a high-functioning organization.


Organizations interested in participating in a PoWER Institute must demonstrate a commitment to improving the functioning of their organizations and have an interest in expanding services in areas that have minimal resources available to people living with or impacted by HIV. Institutes will be offered one to two times each year in a different region within the Deep South states (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN or TX) and focused on different topics. Participating agencies may be eligible to receive a travel stipend to support travel costs to the institute sessions, and/or a completion stipend based on the institute.

Organizations eligible to participate in the PoWER Institutes must:

Criteria Description
HIV Focused Be an AIDS Service Organization; a CBO that prioritizes HIV/AIDS prevention or care services, or is a CBO with a substantial budgetary investment in HIV related programming.
Geographic Location Be located in and doing work within the selected regions for each institute within Deep South. Cohort #1 of the PoWER Institute will be held in Columbia, SC. Eligible organizations must reside in any of the 9 Deep South states.
Non-Profit Status Be a non-profit, tax-exempt organization as set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Applicants that do not hold 501(c)(3) status must have a fiscal sponsor to apply.
Emerging Organization Organizations must be emerging, defined as being small to moderate in size with a budget of less than $1M and fewer than 20 employees
Experience Be an organization with a minimum of two (2) years of demonstrated experience in addressing HIV/AIDS.
Participation Commitment of up to 2 staff members per organization to fully participate in the institute. Full participation includes attendance at each face-to-face session, webinar, and/or coaching session.

Applications for LEARN: Harm Reduction and LEARN: Trauma-Informed Advocacy and Policy are currently open and will close on January 29th, 2020 at 11:59pm EST.

Applications for LEARN: Trauma-Informed Care is now open and will close on February 28th, 2020 at 11:59pm EST.

Leading with Education, Advocacy & Resistance with our Neighbors (LEARN) is one of SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center’s strategies for supporting organizations with transforming organizational practice. The primary goal of LEARN is to build knowledge, capacity and expertise in a particular topic area. A second important goal of LEARN is to strengthen community networks through enhanced collaboration between participating organizations. Each cohort of LEARN is centered on a different content area.

SUSTAIN is excited to announce the launch of three LEARN cohorts: 1. LEARN: Harm Reduction developed in collaboration with Sandra Chavez of the Austin Harm Reduction Coalition, 2. LEARN: Trauma-Informed Advocacy and Policy developed in collaboration with the Black Futurists Group and 3. LEARN: Trauma-Informed Care developed in collaboration with the Ribbon Consulting Group.

LEARN consists of an in person convening and multiple virtual group and coaching sessions over the course of 6 months. Four to six organizations will be selected for each cohort. Organizations should also be prepared to initiate and complete within 6 months at least one new project or activity centered around the cohort topic area. Organizations can expect to contribute around 6-8 hours a month. Organizations will receive a stipend to support their travel to the in-person meeting and project implementation. No prior knowledge around either content area is required to participate in LEARN. Organizations should choose one cohort and thus only submit one application.

About Harm Reduction
Harm Reduction is both an approach and a set of practical strategies that aim to reduce negative consequences. While Harm Reduction is typically known for its connection to substance use and HIV prevention programming, we practice Harm Reduction in a number of ways on a daily basis (ex: wearing seatbelts while driving, wearing sunscreen while at the beach, etc.). Harm Reduction practice must be reflective of a specific individual and community needs, however, there are a set of principles that are central to Harm Reduction practice which can be found here. Harm Reduction is key to working with the communities we serve.

About Trauma-Informed Policy & Advocacy
Advocacy is an essential building block for the future because it can serve as a vehicle for people to focus on solving specific problems related to the health, social, economic, political, and/or cultural realities and challenges within their community. Trauma-informed advocacy considers and centers individual, community and historical experiences shaped by trauma within advocacy efforts, and promotes and develops public policy grounded in healing, redemption, and restoration. Through this lens, trauma-informed advocacy provides an opportunity to achieve real change in the daily lives of communities by putting their lived experiences in the driver’s seat for progressive and transformative advocacy and public policy efforts.

About Trauma-Informed Care
People who have been through or are going through traumatic lived experiences need empathic, and compassionate support and understanding. Trauma-informed care is an effective approach for providers in working with people who have experienced trauma because it “treat[s] a whole person, taking into account past trauma and the resulting coping mechanisms when attempting to understand behaviors and treat the patient” (Psychology Today, 2017). Trauma-informed care is also an organizational approach in which entire organizations collectively a) recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients served, b) respond by integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and c) seek to actively resist re-traumatization.

Be on the lookout for LEARN Healing Justice coming early 2020.


Organizations interested in participating in LEARN must have a primary organizational purpose of serving people living with HIV and demonstrate a willingness to integrate the cohort focus area, into all aspects of their programs. They should also demonstrate a willingness to cultivate integration of directly impacted communities in this work in collaboration with their organization. Organizations of all sizes are encouraged to apply, but for those that have more than 30-40 staff members, we ask that you specify your application to a particular department of your organization.

Additionally, organizations eligible to participate in LEARN must:

Criteria Description
HIV Focused Applicants must have a primary organizational purpose of reducing new HIV infections and/or improving the health of people living with HIV.
Geographic Location Applicants must be located in and doing work in one of nine (9) Deep South states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas.
Non-Profit Status Applications must be non-profit, tax-exempt organizations as set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Applicants that do not hold 501(c)(3) status must have a fiscal sponsor to apply.
Participation Identify and commit 2-3 people within the organization that agree to participate fully in each scheduled learning session
Evaluation Applicants must agree to work with our evaluation partners, if funded, to help measure the impact of the training.

2019 LEARN Partners

Advocacy House Services, Inc.
Harm Reduction Cohort & Healing Justice Cohort
Greensboro, NC
Advocacy House Services, Inc is an advocacy and capacity building organization that promotes the well-being, health, and dignity of marginalized community members using a social and racial justice lens so that they can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their lifestyle choices,  gender identity or expression.
Capital Area Reentry Program, Inc.
Harm Reduction Cohort
Baton Rouge, LA
Capital Area Reentry Program strives to provide individuals in the community living with or at risk of acquiring and/or transmitting HIV, substance use and/or mental health, school dropout, juvenile delinquency and other legal consequences, with the tools to empower themselves, to enhance their quality of life, reduce the risk of incarceration, reduce recidivism and the spread of HIV/STDs through therapeutic, educational, preventive and referral services.
Frontline Legal Services
Healing Justice Cohort
New Orleans, LA
Frontline's mission is to provide legal and policy support for those on the frontline of America's public health and human rights crises, and to provide legal, health education, and risk reduction services for people living with HIV/AIDS in Louisiana.
Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida
Healing Justice Cohort
West Palm Beach, FL
Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida believes that reproductive self-determination and the right to privacy are core human freedoms. Our mission is to provide comprehensive sexual health care through the provision of clinical services, education, and advocacy.
Positive Assistance, Inc.
Harm Reduction Cohort
Orlando, FL
Assisting and giving hope to anyone living with HIV or at risk of acquiring HIV.
SisterLove, Inc.
Healing Justice Cohort
Atlanta, GA
SisterLove Inc. is on a mission to eradicate the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS and other reproductive justice health challenges impacting women and their families through education, prevention, support, and human rights advocacy in the United States and around the world.
The Knights and Orchids Society
Harm Reduction Cohort
Selma, AL
The Knights & Orchids Society (TKO) strives to build the power of the TLBG community for African Americans throughout Alabama’s to obtain our dream of justice and equality through group economics, education, leadership development, and organizing cultural Work.
The Normal Anomaly
Healing Justice Cohort
Houston, TX
The Normal Anomaly seeks to create dialogue through multimedia and social media platforms that display our likenesses over our differences because we believe seeing the humanity in humans is the first step in change.
Healing Justice Cohort
Austin, TX
A social movement that provides mental health awareness and suicide prevention to communities of color through art and advocacy with a focus on LGBTQIA persons and youth.