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COMPASS Initiative® SPARK! Grant


Despite numerous studies, we still have much to learn about HIV-related stigma. Nonetheless, we know that the stigma we experience often results from ignorance, fear-based myths, and a general lack of awareness in our communities. Public marketing campaigns were once an important strategy for changing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around HIV and AIDS. Unfortunately, these campaigns and other community-level education initiatives are scarce in the Deep South and their messages often do not reflect the landmark scientific advances that have transformed what it means to live with HIV. These campaigns and initiatives are key in removing the veil of shame and fear that has far too long existed around HIV prevention and care.

In response to the absence of such campaigns and education initiatives in the Deep South, the Southern AIDS Coalition introduced SPARK! (Southerners Promoting Awareness, Resources & Knowledge), a grant program to fund community-led campaigns and education initiatives across the Deep South. With this program, we are turning to you–community-based organizations with the ability to implement grassroots approaches to reach the communities you serve.


Eligibility: Currently, 501(c)(3) organizations (or organizations with a fiscal sponsor) residing in any of the nine (9) Deep South states (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX) are eligible to apply. Those who apply also need to note that the campaign should be able to be implemented within six (6) months of approval and will be evaluated.

Award Dates:  SPARK! grant awards are made on a quarterly basis. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed at the close of each quarter. Applicants will be advised of funding decisions as follows:

Application Submission Funding Decision Announced by:
January - March April 30th
April - June July 31st
July - September October 31st
October - December January 31st

Award Amount: SPARK! grant award range from $2,500 to $25,000. The amount of your request should reflect the scope of your campaign and the expense of your platform.

Allowable Expenses: It’s entirely appropriate for you to use funds to pay for things like meeting expenses, printing, billboard rental, and graphic design services. However, there are prohibited expenses. You cannot use 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’s business, including purchase, utilization, prescribing, formulary position, pricing, reimbursement, referral, recommendation or payment for products
  • Individuals, individual health care providers, or physical group practices
  • Events or programs that have already occurred
  • Government lobbying activities

Tips for a Successful SPARK! Grant Application:

  • Clearly articulate how your project will address stigma related to HIV.
  • Clearly articulate how you will deliver a community-level initiative.
  • If creating a media campaign, make it clear how you will leverage one or more platforms to deliver your message (e.g., radio, billboards, print media, social media).
  • If creating some other form of community-level education initiative, make it clear what community (e.g., faith leaders, health providers, social networks) you are targeting and the impact you intend to make.
  • Clearly explain how the tone of your messaging will empower the community, rather than use fear and shame. Instead of using scare tactics, opt for an evidence-based, compelling message that is designed to spark dialogue or curiosity to learn more.
  • Don’t assume your audience understands the basic facts of HIV transmission, testing, or biomedical interventions.
  • Think focused rather than big, broad campaigns. We want to support grassroots campaigns that can reach deep into a community rather than campaigns that try to reach everyone across the spectrum.

Additional Attachments Necessary: In order to have a complete submission and be considered for a SPARK! grant, you are required to upload the following documents:

  • Your organizations 501(c)(3) verification OR letter from a fiscal sponsor
  • Organizational Operating Budget
  • SPARK! Grant Budget Attachment

Note:  After submission, you will receive confirmation of your application’s submission and will hear from the Southern AIDS Coalition at the close of the quarterly review period. If you have any questions, please contact us at compass@southernaidscoalition.org.

Please return to the Home page to apply for this funding opportunity.