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2004: The Black AIDS Mobilization Initiative - Report

Goals of Conference
The timing of the Stony Point meeting was important, as it coincided with an emerging consensus among several major African American AIDS organizations regarding the need to respond collectively to the growing and disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Black communities. The Stony Point meeting concluded with representatives from four national AIDS organizations and one regional organization (including the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the Balm in Gilead, the Black AIDS Institute, the Magic Johnson Foundation and Outreach, Inc.) forming an Executive Committee to guide the work of this nascent effort, which was initially named the Black AIDS Mobilization Initiative (The mobilization).

Conceived of as a five-year effort, the primary purpose of the Mobilization is to dramatically change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black America through a nationally coordinated mobilization of Black institutions across multiple sectors. The goals of the campaign are:

  1. To raise awareness about the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities,
  2. To prevent new HIV infections by expanding HIV testing and counseling in Black communities
  3. To increase access to and utilization of HIV treatment and care, and
  4. Strengthen the infrastructure and capacity to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities by increasing available resources.
In April 2004, the Levi Strauss Foundation awarded the Mobilization a $50,000 planning grant. This report describes the Mobilization's major accomplishments during a nine-month period from May 2004 through January 2005. The Institute is proud of the considerable progress made to date. In October 2004, the Mobilization hosted a Teach-In for student activists from historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which included a Town Hall Meeting featuring Congressman John Lewis and Dr. David Satcher. Both events coincided with the Black AIDS Institute's 4th Annual Black Media Roundtable on HIV/AIDS and the launch of Ledge, the first national HIV/AIDS magazine written and edited by students from HBCUs. The weekend event drew a record number of Black journalists representing print, radio and broadcast outlets and generated national press coverage in both Black and mainstream media.

In addition to hosting this event, with the help of a consultant, the Executive Committee engaged in a deliberative strategic planning process, that helped to clarify a collective vision for the Mobilization and contributed to the development of detailed implementation goals and strategies.

In the seven year history of the Black AIDS Institute (5 year history when this grant was awarded), there has never been a project whose goals were achieved as completely has the goals of this conference. The goal of the conference was to begin a national Black AIDS mobilization. In June of 2006, major Black Institutions representing civil rights, faith, media, policy, elected officials, funders, academia, and social organizations issued a declaration of commitment and call to action to end the AIDS epidemic in Black America.

Thirty (30) African American leaders attended the 3rd Annual John M. Lloyd Think Tank in Stony Point, New York. In addition to the invited leaders, a number of observers, experts and funders also attended the meeting, some at their own expense. At the meeting, participants adopted the Stony Point Statement (see Attachment A), a declaration calling for a national mobilization of Black people in the U.S. to stop HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in our communities.

The following commitments were made by the attendees to promote The Black Mobilization Initiative:

Sandra McDonald (Outreach, Inc.): She will work feverishly to actualize the plan.

Jerry Lopes (American Urban Radio Networks): He will bring the message to American Urban Radio Network's 20 million listeners; partner with the Black Media Task Force to send the message further; create individual opportunities to send the message; and underwrite a town hall meeting.

Pernessa Seele (Balm in Gilead): She will commit her time to mobilization.

Melanie Havelin (The John M. Lloyd Foundation): She will document the Stony Point conference proceedings, and offered to work with the Black AIDS Institute one day per week to help with the planning process.

Diana Williamson (Crossroads Medical): She commits to bring the message to her daily work.

Dr. Beny Primm (Addiction Research and Treatment Corp.): He will contact the chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and inform the Presidential Advisory Council on AIDS (PACHA) of the launch of this movement.

Dr. Robert Fullilove (Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University): He will offer technical support for evaluation and assessment, and the resources of the Community Research Group of Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Mildred Freeman (National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education - NAFEO): She will organize the leaders of Black colleges and universities.

Grazell Howard (National Coalition of 100 Black Women): She will bring message to the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the National Institute on Child Health [I have to clarify with Grazell the exact name of that organization]. She also offered resources from 100 Black Women and volunteered her own professional skills as a facilitator.

John Hall (activist): he will do whatever is necessary as a further extension of his commitment to his son, who died from HIV/AIDS.

Jonathan Perry (activist): He will organize the college students on Black college and university campuses in North Carolina.

Patrick Packer (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.): He will use the Alpha network at every level. Also, he committed to work with the presidents of Black colleges and universities, to include the voice of men in the movement, to bring the message to every Black delegate from Alabama at the Democratic National convention, and to work in conjunction with the Deltas.

Karl-Lyn Sanderson (The Tavis Smiley Foundation): She will commit her person energies as an artist, and carry the message to the constituents and partners of the Tavis Smiley Foundation (which includes a list of 30,000 youth).

Rita Howard (National Coalition of 100 Black Women - Manhattan chapter): She will bring the message to the Manhattan chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women, as well as the national board at its meeting in the Bahamas.

Stuart Burden (Levi Strauss & Co.): He promised to be responsive to any requests for feedback on draft funding requests, and to make the funding request a top priority so it is administered quickly.

Angela Williams (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.): She will bring the message to the Delta leadership, and committed to educate herself and others in the community.

Laura Hall (Alabama State Legislature): She will continue to work to mobilize Alabama organizations along with Patrick Packer and the Deltas.

Adam Taylor (Global Justice): He committed to engage the 100 college campuses that are involved with the Student Global AIDS Campaign as well as to expand the outreach to Black colleges and universities, and to bring the message to the global AIDS community to build a bridge and ensure that the Black voice is involved.

Ernest Hopkins (San Francisco AIDS Foundation): He will continue his advocacy work at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation; bring it to the attention of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at their meeting at the end of May, as well as the Community Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief, the National AIDS Housing Coalition, and the Black Lesbian and Gay Pride Days, Inc.

Hope Mason (national Coalition of 100 Black Women): She will bring the message to the National Coalition of 100 Black Women next month, as well as commit her personal skills to refine the work.

Brenda Larkin (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Clinical Trials Core Vaccine Research Center): She will make herself available to groups to give information, dispel myths and breakdown barriers, and mobilize the nurses with whom she works at NIAID.

Dr. George Roberts (Centers for Disease Control - Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention): He will use his influence at the CDC to mobilize the agency to be responsive to the needs that the movement demands; provide data and information resources to help describe the impact of the epidemic on the Black community; and offer his personal and professional skills to fuel the momentum.

Dr. Chad Womack (National Institutes of Health, Vaccine Research Center, NIAID): He will continue to battle from the inside of the government; use his scientific expertise to be a conduit to the community as a communicator and educator; and to encourage other Black scientists to become involved. He also offered to give more time to the Black AIDS Institute's African American HIV University.

Dr. Eric Goosby (Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation): He pledged to be available at any level needed - to offer thinking, reacting, logistical support as required. he offered to speak to any group or organization. He suggested that the Partner Organizations plan to keep the Congressional Black Conference updated of the status and progress of this movement.

Jeanella Blair (The Magic Johnson Foundation): She committed the Magic Johnson Foundation to test a minimum of 2000 youth by the end of this year; to communicate with and mobilize the NBA players association and NBA wives; to mobilize the magic Johnson Foundation's entertainment partners, especially those in Hip Hop; to commit personally a minimum of 10 hours per month to this mobilization; to underwrite a marketing campaign with a focus on youth.

Austin Cooper (National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS): The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS will redouble its efforts to mobilize the Black leadership if this country.

Jesse Milan (Costella Health Services): He will offer any leadership, structure, face needed to ensure the success of this movement.

Robert Estrin (The John M. Lloyd Foundation): He pledged to continue to support the movement via grants from the john M. Lloyd Foundation.

Phill Wilson (The Black AIDS Institute): He promised to ensure that the Black AIDS Institute is strong enough and has the capacity to serve as the lead organization for this movement. He will be more disciplined with his and the Institute's time and resources and respectful of his role by keeping himself healthy.

Unanticipated issues/challenges/successes
Along the way the project encountered both expected and unexpected challenges. Chief among these are the difficulty of organizing such an effort without new staff, the time-consuming nature of planning, and the need for clear communication and formal operating procedures to facilitate group trust and collective decision-making. Another significant lesson learned was how difficult it is to ask a group of senior executives to adjust their schedules mid-year to focus on a new priority.

Major Challenges:
There were a number of unanticipated challenges and successes raised prior, during and after the conference.
  1. Prior to the meeting:
    We underestimated how difficult it would be to coordinate the invitation and travel logistics of the meeting. Invitees were initially more reluctant to attend than we had anticipated. Ultimately, as the meeting drew nearer this challenge was overcome by persistence and greater clarity of goals and objectives. Never the less, there were important invitees who did not attend the meeting.
  2. During the meeting:
    Because of the strong nature of the leaders attending the meeting it was often difficult to keep them on the tasks of the stated agenda. This challenge was overcome by asking the group to create new goals and objectives that they could each buy in to. Ultimately, the new goals and objectives reflected the original goals and objectives set by the planning committee.
  3. Following the meeting:
    We also underestimated how difficult it would be for the executive committee to develop a working consensus. We underestimated the amount of time it would take to build a coalition among the executive committee and we overestimated the capacity of the executive director's of the organizations that represented the executive committee to lead the mobilization and their individual organizations. Finally, we grossly underestimated the amount of resources it would take to launch the mobilization. To overcome this challenge, the group hired a consultant to serve as coach and facilitator of the process. The consultant helped the group develop a framework. Ultimately, the Black AIDS Institute took the individual lead on the mobilization with the other executive committee members serving in supportive and advisory roles.
Despite such challenges, members of the original Executive Committee remain firmly committed to this collaboration and hope to continue our work with the John M. Lloyd Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation, The MAC AIDS fund, the Ford Foundation and others to accomplish our shared goals.

Major Accomplishments:
As a new and still under resourced effort, the National Black AIDS Mobilization is still in a start-up phase; however, it has made considerable progress during the past two years. Major accomplishments include:
  1. Established an Executive Committee Comprised of Five National Black Organizations and Strengthened Committee Operations Through Ongoing Planning
    The National Black AIDS Mobilization Executive Committee convened for the first time shortly after the Stony Point meeting, and since that time has held 6 face-to-face meetings, including a two-day Planning Retreat in Glen Cove, NY in November 2004 and a second, two-day planning meeting in Los Angeles, CA in January 2005. Following the January meeting, the committee met weekly via telephone until March of 2005.

    The Committee is comprised of the executive directors of the Black AIDS Institute (Phill Wilson), the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (Debra Fraser-Howze), the Balm in Gilead (Pernessa Seele), Outreach, Inc. (Sandra McDonald) and Shane Jenkins, Director of HIV Initiatives for the Magic Johnson Foundation, Inc. Although Ms. McDonald originally represented her Atlanta-based community-based organization on the Committee, during its planning, the Executive Committee decided that a national group representing AIDS service providers would be a more appropriate fifth partner, given the national focus on the Mobilization and the other partners. As the founder and convener of the emerging National Coalition of African American AIDS Service Organizations (NCAAASO), Ms. McDonald will remain on the Executive Committee as its representative.

    One of the challenges for the Committee was ensuring consistent communication and participation on the part of its members, given the fact that these individuals are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their own organizations. Participation improved over time, as Committee members rearranged their schedules to focus on this emerging priority. Newly adopted operating procedures requiring Committee members to designate alternative representatives if they were unable to participate in a conference call or meeting, and allowing decisions to be made without all five partners in attendance contributed to more efficient operations. In December 04, the Committee also put in place more formal administrative systems, including the distribution of meeting notes following each conference call or face-to-face meeting. As the fiscal agent, the Black AIDS Institute established separate financial systems for the Mobilization, and open a separate checking account in mid February 2005.

    Throughout this planning period, one of the Committee's internal goals was to develop a shared vision for the Mobilization and to establish a solid basis of trust among the five partners as it moved forward with this collective effort. After being hired by the Committee to assist with planning, one of the first activities the planning consultant completed was as series of one-on-one, structured interviews with Executive Committee members. The interviews focused on each Committee member's vision for the Mobilization, opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the coalition, and views on next steps with regard to mobilizing key stakeholders. These interview findings continue to inform the Committee's discussion and planning (see Attachment B).

  2. Developed Organizational Mission Statement, Program Goals and 2005 Objectives (Internal and External)
    As mentioned above, the National Black AIDS Mobilization Executive Committee held two strategic planning meetings over the course of first six months following the Stony Point retreat: the first took place in Glen Cove, NY (November 16-17); and the second in Los Angeles, CA (January 15-16). In Glen Cove, the Committee's work focused on developing a mission statement and goals, as well as a long-term vision for how the Mobilization would engage key groups of African American leaders in nine sectors. The Glen Cove meeting also provided an opportunity for the Committee to discuss a number of issues related to its internal operations, including the need for more consistent communication between the partners and more structured administration.

    In Los Angeles, the Committee focused its planning on the year 2005, with the goal of developing a specific work plan to move the Mobilization from the planning to implementation stage. At the meeting, the Committee reaffirmed its commitment to continue to address internal management and planning-related activities before embarking on significant new programming in order to ensure that the Mobilization has a solid foundation from which to build. Chief among the internal issues the Committee prioritized is fundraising to enable the Committee to hire a Program Director and Administrative Assistant to support the operations and implement the work of the Mobilization. The considerable amount of time required to support the Committee's planning and operations is evident in the value of in-kind contributions made to the Mobilization on the part of the five partners. During the six months immediately following the retreat, the Mobilization's five partners have collectively contributed $75,000.00 in staff and other in-kind support.

    Despite the Executive Committee's understanding of the need for continued planning in the year ahead, we also felt a tremendous sense of urgency to initiate programming in 2005. The Committee therefore prioritized three program activities for 2005:
    • a series of Town Hall Meetings on HIV/AIDS in Congressional Black Caucus members' districts;
    • a campaign to ensure that key Black organizations and institutions include an HIV/AIDS focus in their summer conventions and annual meetings; and
    • The organization of a national Call to Action by leaders across nine targeted sectors. These three programs will be implemented based on the availability of funding from new and/or existing sources.

  3. Hosted a Teach-in for Student Activists from HBCUs and a Town Hall Meeting with Congressman John Lewis to Coincide with the Black AIDS Institute's 2004 Black Media Roundtable on HIV/AIDS in Atlanta, GA
    In October 2004 the Mobilization hosted the First Annual Teach-In on HIV/AIDS for student activists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. More than 75 students representing 30 schools participated in the Teach-In to learn about HIV/AIDS, network with other activists and strategize how to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among their peers. At the meeting, participants developed a mission statement, Steering Committee and name for their new coalition: L.I.F.E. AIDS - Leaders In the Fight to Eradicate AIDS. LIFE AIDS's mission is to educate Black college students on the causes and effects of HIV/AIDS and create a comfortable context for dialogue about sex and sexuality, and to eradicate HIV/AIDS and restore hope in Black communities. Following the Teach-In, the Steering Committee met by conference call and a number of the students were involved in campus-based activities organized on World AIDS Day 2004 and National Black HIV/AIDS awareness day 2005.

    In addition to the two-day Teach-In, the Mobilization hosted a Town Hall Meeting featuring Congressman John Lewis and former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. Held at Morehouse College School of Medicine, this public meeting drew more than 200 participants and was web cast by kaisernetwork.org. In his inspirational remarks, the Congressman described important parallels between the civil rights struggles of the 1960's and today's battle to end AIDS in Black communities. The Teach-In and Town Hall Meeting coincided with the Black AIDS Institute's 4th Black Media Roundtable on HIV/AIDS and the First Annual Max Robinson Award for Excellence in Journalism.

    The Student Teach-In and Town Hall Meeting were the very first programs organized jointly by the Mobilization, and in addition to their success, they provided valuable lessons to the Executive Committee. First and foremost is how labor-intensive such activities are and how difficult they are to implement without dedicated staff or drawing resources away from other activities of the partner organizations. This lesson was again made clear in December, when the Executive Committee was forced to delay a D.C. press conference to announce the creation of the Mobilization. Originally scheduled to take place on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7, 2005), the Committee ultimately decided to postpone the event in light of the amount of coordination and planning required and the lack of staff resources available.

    Fortunately, the Black Student Teach In and town hall meeting has continued. Two subsequent conferences have taken place, one at Howard University in Washington DC, and a second at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee Alabama. A forth Teach In is being planned for the fall of 2007 in Durham North Carolina. In addition, the Black AIDS Institute launched a national Black Student magazine called ledge that is distributed to 250 colleges and Universities. We also launched a Black student internship program in 2005. Nine students have participated in the program in the first two years of its existence.

  4. Developed Logo and Supporting Collaterals
    The Atlanta meetings were the first opportunity for the Mobilization to introduce itself to representatives of three groups of stakeholders: the media, students and policymakers. In order to present a professional image, prior to the event, the Committee worked with the Black AIDS Institute's graphic designer to develop a Black AIDS Mobilization Initiative logo. This logo was used on invitations/announcements, meeting folders, letterhead, signage, and on coffee cups and buttons distributed to meeting participants.

    During its January planning meeting, the Executive Committee decided to review the basic design of the logo given the existing need to amend it in order to change the names of two of the five partners. In addition to asking the designer to develop a more ethno-centric visual, the Committee voted to change its name to better emphasize its national focus. The new logo maintained the tag line, "Mobilizing to save our lives."

  5. Submitted Joint Funding Proposal to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Established Additional Plans for Joint Fundraising, Including Development of a Grant Template and Plans for Use of Grant Funds Awarded to the Magic Johnson Foundation
    The need for staff to support the infrastructure of the Mobilization became even more evident during planning of and just following the Atlanta meetings. In November, the Executive Committee submitted an unsolicited grant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Had this five year planning grant been funded, the committee would have been able to hire a full-time Program Director and a half-time Administrative Assistant. The grant would have also funded other expenses related to programming and administration. In 2006 the CDC did fund the Black AIDS Institute $50,000 to support activities to launch the mobilization.

    Apart from the very real need for funding, the process of drafting and submitting a proposal to the CDC helped the Executive Committee clarify its objectives over the coming year and beyond. During its January planning meeting, the Committee agreed to a short extension of Ms. Aragón's contract so that she can work with the Committee to develop a grant template. By March 15th, the Black AIDS Institute took lead of the mobilization effort.

    In August of 2006, the Black AIDS Institute was awarded a $500,000.00 grant from the MAC AIDS fund to launch a five year national Black Strategic Action plan.
Documents Produced
There were two documents issued following the retreat. Both documents were sent out to all retreat invitees.
  • The Stony Point Principles:
The conference concluded with the development of the Stony Point Principles which all participants were asked to sign:

Infection rates are too high.
There are too many Black deaths from AIDS.
There is too little funding.
There is still no vaccine.
Black families are in danger.
Black organizations can do more.
Black leaders and role models must do more.
Black people do not know enough about HIV/AIDS.
Black healthcare professionals should do more.
Black people must mobilize to save our lives worldwide.

Therefore, we the attendees of the Stony Point think tank representing sectors across the Black community commit to mobilize Black people in the U.S. to stop Black Deaths and infections from HIV/AIDS.
  • Progress Report to Stony Point Participants
Next Steps
As a result of the Stony Point Retreat, five national Black organizations have taken the idea of a campaign to mobilize Black leaders from the conceptual to the planning stage to implementation.

Black Institutions are mobilized in unprecedented ways, from the leadership of the NAACP getting tested publicly for HIV, to Black leaders attending the World AIDS conference in Toronto Canada, to major Black clergy launching national AIDS campaigns and Black media covering HIV/AIDS like never before; the National Black AIDS Mobilization has begun. In 2007 eight national Black Institutions will develop national strategic action plans and the national Black AIDS mobilization will write a national AIDS plan.


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