[Skip to Content]
English | Español

COMPASS Initiative® Leading through Education, Advocacy & Resistance with our Neighbors Harm Reduction ( LEARN HR)
Application Spring 2023


February 1, 2023 - March 15, 2023

Program Description
Leading with Education, Advocacy & Resistance with our Neighbors (LEARN) is SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center’s shared learning opportunities to build organizational leadership and support organizational transformation. The primary goal of LEARN is to build knowledge, capacity, expertise and leadership 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 our fifth cohort of LEARN Harm Reduction (HR), which will be developed and facilitated in collaboration with Sandra Chavez! Sandra is an expert community-based consultant who has 15+ years of experience working at the intersections of HIV, housing, and harm reduction in the Southern U.S., and is thrilled to facilitate another cohort of LEARN HR! No prior knowledge around harm reduction is required to participate.

LEARN HR consists of virtual group and coaching sessions over the course of 7 months. Four to six organizations will be selected for each cohort. Organizations should also be prepared to design and complete a new project or activity centered around harm reduction within the 7 months of LEARN HR. Organizations can expect to contribute up to 6-8 hours a month to LEARN HR meetings and activities. Organizations will receive a $10,000 stipend to support their participation and project implementation. No prior knowledge around harm reduction is required to participate in LEARN HR.

About Harm Reduction
Harm reduction is defined as both a movement for social justice, as well as policies, practices, and programs that center the rights and autonomy of people who use drugs. Additionally, harm reduction recognizes the role of structural oppression and social inequities that impact individuals, and aims to reduce the negative consequences associated with drug use at the individual, community and systemic levels. Harm reduction is person-centered and not a one-size-fits-all model, thus there is no prescribed way of practicing harm reduction. Instead, harm reduction is guided by a set of eight core principles which are made available by the National Harm Reduction Coalition. Though harm reduction emerged from the context of injection drug use in the 1980’s, harm reduction has been implemented across a range of settings (e.g., interventions that promote strategies to reduce potential risks for people who exchange money, drugs, or goods for sex; programs that reduce tobacco use). A central goal of LEARN HR is to educate and equip leadership and providers in HIV service organizations throughout the South with the knowledge and skills needed to implement harm reduction in their organizations.

After LEARN HR, participants will be able to:
●    Recognize the realities of structural oppression (ex: racism, poverty, past trauma) and other social inequalities that affect people’s vulnerability and capacity for dealing with harm.
●    Practice non-judgmental, non-coercive service provision with communities they serve.
●    Apply new harm reduction knowledge by creating and implementing a harm reduction-centered project.

LEARN HR has 3 different but intersecting components: 1)Meetings, 2)Project Implementation, and 3) Evaluation and Reporting. 

1. Meetings
LEARN HR consists of the following over the course of 7 months:

  • Bi-weekly (2 times a month) virtual cohort sessions
  • Monthly one-on-one virtual coaching sessions 
  • An in-person gathering (1.5 day in-depth training and working session)  

Four to six organizations will be selected for each cohort. Organizations can expect to contribute up to 6-8 hours a month to LEARN HR meetings & activities. 

2. Project Implementation
Organizations should be prepared to initiate and complete a project centered around harm reduction that they would like to address in a collaborative, shared learning environment. Organizations will receive a $10,000 stipend to support the implementation of their project. 

Project Tracks 

  • Because LEARN is centered around transforming organizational practice, projects should focus on organizational change. All organizations are expected to collaborate with people living with HIV and/or people who use drugs in the design, implementation, and evaluation phases of their project.
  • Organizations should choose one of the following project tracks: 1) Hiring and onboarding people with lived experience, 2) Collaborating and Coordinating with community partners, and 3) Creating structures that support staff and client wellbeing. See the figure below for a brief description of each track.
  • Organizations do not need to have a project plan at the application stage; selected organizations will design and implement their project with the support of the cohort and coach. Selected organizations will design their project plan in the first 1-2 months (May & June) of LEARN HR, and implement their projects in the remaining 3-7 months (July-November)

3. Evaluation and Reporting
Selected organizations should expect to participate in evaluation activities. This includes two surveys at the beginning and end of LEARN HR (May & December), as well as a virtual Close Out Call at the end of LEARN HR. Additionally, selected organizations should expect to complete Quarterly Reports throughout LEARN HR (June, September, & December).


Organizations interested in participating in LEARN HR must have a primary organizational purpose of serving people living with HIV. Organizations that demonstrate a commitment to cultivating the leadership of Trans, Women, Latinx, Black, Immigrant and Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual communities will be prioritized, along with those who serve rural communities and communities most impacted by the HIV epidemic (see Ending the HIV Epidemic jurisdictions). Organizations of all sizes are encouraged to apply, but for those that have more than 30-40 staff members, please specify your application to a particular department of your organization. No prior knowledge around harm reduction is required to participate. 


Organizations eligible to participate in LEARN HR must:

  • Aim to increase engagement of people who receive services (e.g., people who use drugs, people living with HIV) in a more meaningful way;
  • Have a primary organizational purpose of reducing new HIV infections and/or improving the health of people living with HIV by utilizing a harm reduction approach;
  • Have an idea for a project centered around harm reduction that they would like to work on throughout LEARN HR;
  • 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;
  • Be located in one of the twelve Southern states (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX); 
  • Identify and commit 2 people within the organization (1 decision-maker and 1 program staff) that agree to participate fully in all LEARN HR meetings/activities; and
  • Agree to work with our evaluation partners, if funded, to help measure the impact of the program.

Organizations will receive a $10,000 stipend to support costs related to implementing their harm reduction project.

Allowable Expenses
It is appropriate to use LEARN HR funds to pay for things like materials, meeting expenses, printing, graphic design services, etc. However, there are prohibited expenses. You cannot use the funds to pay for or offset the cost of any of the following:

  • Medications or purchasing of medications
  • Direct medical expenses, including lab expenses
  • Existing deficits of organization 
  • Biomedical research or clinical trials
  • Projects that directly influence or advance Gilead Science’s business, including purchase, utilization, prescribing, formulary position, pricing, reimbursement, referral, recommendation or payment for products
  • Individuals, individual health care providers, or physician group practices
  • Events or programs that have already occurred 
  • Government lobbying activities

Please Note: Reimbursement for items/services purchased or initiated prior to the submission of this funding request will not be supported. Organizations that do not complete final assessments and/or reports, or utilize funds for the intended purpose will not be eligible to receive any additional funding from the SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center. 

Accessibility Statement 
If the written application process is inaccessible and you would like to apply through a virtual interview, please email our Program Coordinator, Katie McCormick (she/her), at kamccor5@central.uh.edu before Friday, March 14, 2023 to schedule an interview.

LEARN Harm Reduction consists of multiple sessions over 7 months in 2023 with all participating organizations. Specific details of each component are listed below:

  • Virtual Cohort Session Dates: Cohort sessions will take place for 2 hours twice a month (Wednesdays from 1-3pm CST/2-4pm EST) beginning in May through November on the following dates: 
                       - May 17 & May 31               
                   - June 14 &June 28

                       - July 12 & July 26
                       - August 23
                       - September 6 & September 20 
                       - October 4 & October 18
                       - November 1, November 15, & November 29
  • Coaching Session Dates: Each organization selected to participate will receive individualized coaching from LEARN facilitators over the course of 7 months (one hour long session per month, 7 sessions total). These will be scheduled according to the availability of both the organization and facilitator. 
  • In Person Gathering Date and Location: The cohort will gather for an in-person meeting on August 10-11th in Texas. Both LEARN HR project staff members are expected to attend. Selected organizations may use a portion of their LEARN HR grant to pay for travel expenses (e.g., flight, hotel). Additional details will be announced to the cohort of selected organizations in May/June.  
  • Application Deadline: March 15th, 2023 at 11:59pm EST (10:59 CST)

How to Apply
Please return to the Home Page to apply for this funding.

View the PDF version of the application HERE.