HIV Young Leaders Fund

HIV Young Leaders Fund

Image by HYLF

As part of AWID’s Getting to Zero project today we are profiling the work of HIV Young Leaders Fund (HYLF). HYLF is the only youth-led international fund working to ensure youth-led initiatives have the resources and support that they need to startup, sustain and amplify their work. The Fund strives to ensure that people from all genders are involved in our grant-making decisions and governance. They also recognize that young women are often most affected by HIV in many contexts, and encourage leadership among diverse groups of young women affected by HIV.

HIV Young Leaders Fund

HIV Young Leaders Fund (HYLF) is the only youth-led international fund working to ensure youth-led initiatives – focused on young people most affected by HIV– have the resources and support they need to startup, sustain and amplify their work. We believe young people affected by HIV are best positioned to advocate in innovative ways on the health policy and broader social changes that could positively impact their health. HYLF funds initiatives led by and serving these young people who are often excluded from and marginalized within existing programs. This includes young sex workers, young men who have sex with men, young people who use drugs and young people living with HIV.

HYLF provides grants for peer-based services, advocacy and community mobilization. We also support grantees with peer mentorship and trainings, and share their results and research with the broader HIV community to advocate for a more effective response. We actively strive to support work that often is unfunded or underfunded by existing funding mechanisms, including core funding for youth-led organizations.

HYLF Steering Committee

HYLF Steering Committee

Image by HYLF

HYLF is entirely led by young people under 30, with grantees selected through a Community Review Panel composed of young people with country-level and regional expertise. HYLF is governed by a Steering Committee of young people representing the following organizations: Global Network of Sex Work Projects, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Global Forum on MSM and HIV, Global Network of People Living with HIV, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation, International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, World AIDS Campaign, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Y-PEER and Youth R.I.S.E. This unique model works to develop leadership capacity at all levels of our organization, and allows young people to fully manage and direct resources.

In two years, HIV Young Leaders Fund has disbursed nearly $500,000 to youth-led projects and organizations globally. HYLF has learned that small core support grants are catalysts for activism. “HYLF’s core funding goes straight to build the capacity of youth-led organizations,” said Oliver Anene of the Male Attitude Network in Nigeria, a HYLF grantee. MAN is one of several HYLF grantees, which leveraged their initial HYLF investment into additional funding from new donors. Core funding has also allowed several HYLF grantees to move towards become independently registered nonprofit organizations in their countries.

One of the key values of our work is gender diversity. HYLF strives to ensure that people from all genders are involved in our grant-making decisions and governance. We also recognize that young women are often most affected by HIV in many contexts, and encourage leadership among diverse groups of young women affected by HIV. For example, with funding from HYLF, Young Mothers Support Group (YMSG) carried out a project aimed at building the capacity of young women living with HIV to increase their access and usage of SRH services in Kampala, Uganda. Another grantee, GYCA-Egypt, formed a coalition of community-based organizations (CBO) working to address young women’s sexual and reproductive health needs in poor neighborhoods near Cairo. With their second year grant, they are currently expanding the membership of this coalition and building the capacity of young women in these CBOs on SRHR and HIV issues.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia CRP group

Eastern Europe and Central Asia CRP group

Image by HYLF

In addition, in 2012 HYLF launched a new grants program in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) focused on young women. HIV increasingly affects young women who use drugs across EECA; women now account for 40 percent of new infections in the region. Young women who use drugs have specific needs that are often not addressed through existing programs and urgently need peer-based initiatives to ensure their access to critical services, including harm reduction, sexual and reproductive health, and HIV and Hepatitis C treatment. HYLF is currently supporting four youth-led women’s group in Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

This video highlights the stories of four youth-led women’s organizations in EECA supported by HIV Young Leaders Fund in 2012.

This blog was originally posted as part of the AWID Young Feminist Wire's Getting to Zero Series. Follow it here.

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