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COMPASS Initiative® Leading through Education, Advocacy & Resistance with our Neighbors (LEARN): Trauma-Informed Leadership & Supervision

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. SUSTAIN is excited to announce the launch of our first cohort of LEARN Trauma-Informed Leadership and Supervision (TILS), which will be facilitated by Lladira Aguilar capacity building assistance manager with SUSTAIN. Organizations who are committed to learning, growing, and practicing Trauma-Informed Care are encouraged to apply.

About Trauma-Informed Leadership & Supervision
The socio-political context of the US has become increasingly distressing and precarious due to recent and recurring events (i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality). These unprecedented events highlight the ways in which intersecting systemic oppressions (i.e. anti-Black racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc.) continue to perpetuate trauma among communities including those impacted by HIV/AIDS. This oppressive context, in combination with organizational factors, such as minimal resources, under-staffed organizations and cumbersome caseloads are barriers to staff in providing quality care to people living with HIV. This can result in burnout, secondary trauma, high turnover, compassion fatigue and overall dissatisfaction among staff. To end the HIV epidemic, we must consider the negative impact of organizational environments on both staff and clients, and create strategies and interventions to build equitable and trauma-informed environments.

Informed by the six principles of trauma-informed care, trauma-informed supervision is a social justice-oriented strategy for leadership and supervisors to create healthy professional relationships with their staff members. In order for trauma-informed supervision to advance equity and staff wellbeing, it must be meaningfully incorporated 1 into organizational policies and procedures, realistically operationalized, and integrated into daily practices. More importantly, trauma-informed supervision should be intentionally modeled by organizational leadership as a way to support and sustain change. A specific goal of LEARN TILS is to educate and equip HIV service leadership and those in supervisory roles with the knowledge and skills needed to implement and foster trauma-informed environments for staff.

After LEARN TILS participants will be able to:

  • Understand how intersectional systemic oppression and traumatic events impact individuals and their functioning in the workplace, particularly for Black and Latinx staff.
  • Connect the principles of trauma-informed care to their daily work and organizational mission.
  • Apply the core components of trauma-informed supervision through the successful implementation of the project.
  • Describe how trauma-informed leadership and supervision supports staff and client wellbeing.
  • Apply multiple trauma-informed supervision strategies in their respective environments.

About the LEARN Process:
LEARN HR has 3 different but intersecting components: Meetings, Project and Deliverables/Reporting. 

LEARN Harm Reduction consists of the following over the course of 6 months:

  • Bi-monthly virtual cohort sessions
  • Monthly one-on-one virtual coaching sessions 
  • An extended virtual convening towards the end of this initiative 

Organizations should be prepared to initiate and complete a project centered around Trauma-Informed Leadership and Supervision that they would like to address in a collaborative, shared learning environment. Selected organizations will design and implement their project with the support of the cohort and facilitators. Organizations will receive a $10,000 stipend to support the implementation of their project. LEARN TILS projects should be focused on transforming organizational culture and practices (such as relational, communication, hiring/leaving practices). All organizations are expected to collaborate with staff and people of lived experience in the design, implementation and evaluation process.

Project Tracks

1. Projects enhancing supervisor and staff relationships to promote alignment with TIC principles

2. Projects that improve physical environments to promote staff and client safety and wellness

3. Projects that prioritize and center staff wellness to mitigate secondary trauma, burnout, moral injury and/or compassion fatigue.


Please note: Organizations will receive support and coaching on possible projects that fit your org needs and goals.

Deliverables and Reporting
Applicants do not need to have a project plan at this stage, as selected organizations will design and implement their project with the support of the cohort and facilitators. Selected organizations will design their project plan in the first 1-2 months (July & August) of LEARN, and implement their projects in the remaining 3-4 months (August-December). Selected organizations should expect to complete and submit a product/deliverable, as well as a Project Report in the final month of LEARN (December). The product/deliverable will vary by the selected project and decided in partnership between the organization and coach. Selected organizations will work on related tasks in partnership with the LEARN facilitator.  


Organizations eligible to participate in LEARN TILS must:

  • Have a primary organizational purpose of serving people living with HIV
  • Aim to increase engagement of staff in a more meaningful way and committed to prioritizing staff wellness
  • Have an idea for a project centered around Trauma-Informed Leadership and Supervision that they would like to work on throughout LEARN;
  • 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); and
  • Identify and commit 2 people within the organization (1 decision-maker and 1-person currently supervising staff) that agree to participate fully in each session.

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 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. 

  • Application Deadline: June 1st, 2021 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.