In March/April of 2018 the Massachusetts Getting To Zero Coalition opened a request for proposals for a series of mini grants intended to finance about five HIV-related community engagement projects.

These mini-grants (awarded at $5,000 each) were intended for applicants who could clearly define a specific priority population, a geographic area of need, and make a connection between a proposed project and a desirable HIV-related health outcome.

These health outcomes include things such as reduced stigma, increased resilience, reduced HIV-related deaths, increased engagement in testing & care, strengthened adherence to prescribed therapy, & reduced new HIV infections.

Reference material and details related to priority populations in the Commonwealth can be obtained from:

We received more applications than we were able to finance. They were all important projects, and we wish that we had been able to finance them all. We are pleased to announce however, that through our financial advocacy, the coalition was able to support 11 projects in total, more than double our initial goal!

The final mix of awarded grantee projects represent a diverse range of priority populations and geographic locations across the Commonwealth, and favor projects that demonstrate creativity and that outlined a plan for how the project will continue to have an impact after this initial seed funding.

Please read below to see a summary of those projects that were funded ordered by location. These projects will be completed by Fall of 2018, and a community event with a report back from funded sites will take place on or near World AIDS Day 2018. Stay tuned for free registration for that event!

Key Dates

Applications Due

12PM Midnight (24:00) EST Friday April 13th, 2018

Applications Voted Upon

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Award Announcements

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Funds Distributed

Friday, June 1st, 2018

All Projects Completed

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

Final Reports Due

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Project Presentation Event

(on or near) Saturday, December 1st, 2018

Focused On Zero

Worcester, MA | AIDS Project Worcester

The Focused on Zero project plans to collect and analyze qualitative data from PWID in order to learn from how to best treat impacted populations. This project addresses a community need of gathering intel on a group that can be difficult to engage due to stigma. Learning from focus groups comprised of 15-20 members of consumer populations allows service programs to attain patient centered data to help improve services. The program plans on sharing the information gathered to help other local institutions, such as UMass and APA, collect accurate data. Such data would later be used to create HIV/HCV educational prevention training programs. Efficacy of the program will be tested in 2 months with pre- and post-tests to determine increased knowledge of the needs of the community impacted.

Berkshire HIV Engagement Program (B-HIVE)

Pittsfield, MA | Berkshire Regional Planning Commission/Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative

The efficacy of any intervention can often be directly linked to the degree the knowledge of target community members is utilized – a strategy which has been employed for decades by both B-HIVE and Getting to Zero. In this project, further insights and guidance by former members of the injection drug user community of Berkshire County will inform the expansion of a marketing campaign for health services and safe practices. This campaign will be bolstered by the additional supplement of the distribution of flyers and the formation of a cohesive social media presence. At the culmination of this six month timeline, B-HIVE hopes to have created 200 new encounters with members of the injection drug user and sex worker communities in Pittsfield, and ultimately throughout the entirety of Berkshire County.

GEM – Greater Empowerment & Mentoring

Lowell, MA | Lowell Community Health Center

One of the continuing barriers to effectively addressing HIV in the Commonwealth, as noted by both Getting to Zero and the Lowell Community Health Center, is the lack of popular knowledge about the realities of living with HIV, and of healthy and safe behaviors and options for those engaging in high-risk behaviors. This project takes an innovative new approach to social work through the engagement and deployment of people in high-risk communities as educators for their own social networks. Over the next six months, the Lowell CHC will host a series of trainings on various important topics related to HIV, and will incentivize attendance through gift cards, thereby creating an educated body of new social workers to spread awareness about HIV in high-risk communities.

Lawrence & Lowell SSP (Safe Syringe Program)

Lawrence & Lowell SSP (Safe Syringe Program) | Lawrence, MA

The Lawrence & Lowell SSP Project works to operate and mobilize safe needle exchanges. The organization also works to operate a harm reduction program titled OEND (Overdose Education Naloxone Distribution). The program hopes to enlarge their operations by increasing hours of urban outreach, increased staff, and create a 24-hour hotline service so they can better serve their communities. By working with biostaticians at the Tufts School of Medicine to pattern local drug use they are able to better serve the Lawrence area, an area that has seen recent spikes in HIV. The final goal of their established timeline to increase their efforts by expanding operations and thus increase their presence and efficacy over the next 6 months.

Clean Streets

Lawrence, MA | Greater Lawrence Family Health Center

In the Merrimack valley, one of the highest priority populations for Getting to Zero are people who inject drugs (PWID). The Greater Lawrence Family Health Center is a leader on this issue, and has developed this project, which will involve installing a community disposal container, or kiosk, in the city of Lawrence in order to better address needle disposal. This project further innovates by combining the effective placement of the kiosk with a targeted education program involving information concerning harm reduction equipment availability and referral services for PWID. Over the next six months, the GLFHC hopes to distribute over 2100 educational resources like flyers, as well as safely and responsibly dispose of over 5000 used needles.

Connecting Black and Latina Women to PrEP Information and Services

Hampden County, MA | Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts

It is well-documented that individuals respond more positively to outreach tailored specifically to their community, and this has been leveraged successfully by organizations like Getting to Zero and Planned Parenthood. This project takes this traditional model and builds on it by reaching out to Black and Latina women in Hampden County with content designed with input from the community itself. The first month of this timeline will involve hosting co-creation groups and synthesizing data to create an effective marketing strategy for PrEP, and the following five months will involve both online and direct outreach for these communities. Success will be determined through the quantifiable evaluation of post-project knowledge among Black and Latina women related to PrEP at community events using surveys.

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