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02.12.2021 01:26

Southern Aids Coalition Announces Spark! Grants Recipients To Support Community-led Campaigns in The South


BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Dec. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) announced the recipients of its SPARK! (Southerners Promoting Awareness, Resources & Knowledge) Grants, funding made available to organizations with community-led campaigns and education initiatives across the Deep South to address HIV-related stigma. In the coming year, SAC will fund the twelve organizations to support projects under two tracks—SPARK! Connections and SPARK! Change. Through the SPARK! Connections track, organizations will combat social isolation and loneliness through virtual programming. Through the SPARK! Change track, organizations will support community-level education addressing HIV-related stigma. The grants were made as part of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®, an investment by Gilead Sciences to support community-based organizations working to address the HIV epidemic in the Southern United States.

"We are excited to partner with this diverse group of organizations as they lead grassroots efforts in their communities to eradicate stigma as it pertains to HIV. It is always a joy being able to work with and support community-driven and community-led initiatives," says Mardrequs Harris, Director of Community Investments at SAC."

In August 2021, SAC & GLAAD released the 2021 State of HIV Stigma Survey releasing information showing a need for more community-led anti-stigma campaigns. According to the study, there is still fear surrounding people living with HIV, and that almost half of Americans are not knowledgeable of HIV. The Gilead COMPASS Initiative® provided steps to combat HIV-stigma in the survey and funds the SPARK! Grants.

"Thanks to the generosity of the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), Selma AIR will be able to make an even greater impact on reducing stigma, [...] and improving overall sexual health and wellness among Black women living in rural communities across Alabama," says Lydia Chatmon, Grants Program Manager and Public Relations Director for Selma AIR, Inc. "Through 'Just Among Us Sisters' we will work to deepen connections among women as well as offer improved access to resources related to achieving and maintaining sexual wellness. The women we will reach over the next year, thanks to SAC, will experience opportunities designed to educate their minds, equip their bodies, and ignite their spirit as they/we travel the journey to wellness."

2021–2022 SPARK! Grantees:
A Family Affair Living Our Best Life
Arianna's Center

Black Ladies in Public Health Foundation

Community Health Prevention Intervention Education & Research (CH-PIER)

Columbus Wellness Center Outreach & Prevention Project, Inc.

Cumberland County HIV Task Force, Inc.

Engaging Arkansas Communities

Frontline Legal Services

Gateway Solutions, Inc.

Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency

Positive People Network, Inc.

Selma AIR, Inc.

Read more about the SPARK! Grants recipients at

About the Southern AIDS Coalition: The Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) is a non-partisan coalition of government, community, and business leaders working alongside thousands of people living with HIV and our allies to end the HIV epidemic in the South. We do this through public health advocacy; capacity building assistance; PLHIV leadership development; research and evaluation; and strategic grantmaking. To learn more or to join us, visit

About the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®: The Gilead COMPASS (COMmitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Southern States) Initiative is an unprecedented $100 million commitment over 10 years to support organizations working to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States. The South is most affected by the HIV epidemic, accounting for 54% of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States. In response to the Southern HIV epidemic, the initiative focuses on providing concentrated investments in the region to reduce HIV-related health disparities, build awareness, advance education, and reduce stigma. The Gilead COMPASS Initiative® includes corporate giving programs, independent medical education grants, and the AIDSVu partnership. For more information, please visit

Torrie Shepard, 888-745-2975 Ext. 702

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SOURCE Southern AIDS Coalition

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