AIDS Foundation Chicago Awards $30,000 to Six Black-led Organizations

April 28, 2023

Grants provided as part of AFC’s “Learning Circle Collaborative” Initiative

(Chicago, IL) AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) proudly announces members of its 2023 Learning Circle Collaborative (LCC)—a capacity-building and technical assistance program for Black-led social service providers and organizations to improve agency infrastructure. A collection of grants totaling $30,000 was awarded to six, Black-led organizations across Chicago, including Black Alphabet, Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, Life is Work, Lighthouse Foundation of Chicagoland, Nefuse and Project Vida.  

The six grantees were selected through a competitive open application process reviewed by AFC staff, expert consultants and community review panel members representing various backgrounds. Each organization will receive a one-time award of $5,000 for participating in the LCC to build leadership and organizational infrastructure over the next six months.  In addition to the funding, each of the agencies will receive capacity building (worth up to $15,000) in the form of trainings, one-one tailored coaching and mentoring from subject matter experts. They will have the opportunity to network with each other and with other funders. 

“Equitable funding for Black-led organizations is imperative to achieving racial and health equity and ending the HIV epidemic by 2030,” said John Peller, AFC President and CEO. “We must work together to identify the disparities and needs for resources for communities, and organizations on the frontline of the epidemic. There are so many Black-led organizations in need of this funding and capacity building, and AFC is fully committed to increasing direct funding and finding new funding to support these organizations.” 

 The funds will go towards achieving the following core objectives:

  • Increase capacity for fundraising and board development;
  • Develop and facilitate effective communication strategies;
  • Develop and institute strategic planning processes;
  • Expand capacity for public health programming and design

“It was a competitive process with each organization identifying a variety of needs across challenge areas such as fund and board development, communications, and HR/talent management,” said Dr. Cynthia Tucker, AFC Senior Vice President Community Partnerships and Special Projects, who launched the program in 2016.   

As stated in AFC’s Race Equity Action Plan, which was published in 2022, the organization is deeply committed to increasing revenue for Black-led organizations directly and through funding partners. To date, AFC has granted more than $2 million in awards to 19 Black-led organizations. 

“The Learning Circle Collaborative has been a welcoming space for me as a Black leader navigating organizational leadership and the challenges of systemic barriers to resources,” said Jerome Montgomery Jr., Executive Director of Project VIDA, who has been part of the cohort since its inception. “There is also so much power in peer-to-peer learning and collaboration and it is truly one of the most valuable aspects of being part of this cohort program. Because of the access to new, relevant and beneficial information and funding, I feel more confident in my leadership and the positive growth of our organization to achieve our goals.” 

Thank you to the following individuals who are the subject matter experts for the Learning Circle Collaborative: Johnathon Briggs, Blank Canvas, Inc., Diana Beasley, Management Synergistics, Inc., Jerome' Holston, J.R. Holston Consulting and Dr. Ulysses W. Burley III, with UBtheCURE, LLC.

Visit to learn more about AFC’s capacity building programs and initiatives. 


About Learning Circle Collaborative (LCC)

The Learning Circle Collaborative forges partnerships with Black and Brown-led organizations and provides systemic capacity building. The LCC is a collaborative that works with agencies on identified needs by providing technical assistance, tailored coaching specific to agency needs and training and workshops on specific challenge areas such as fund and board development, communications, and HR/talent management. In addition, we provide a safe space for leaders to share lessons learned, build leadership and trust. 

About AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) 

For more than 36 years, AFC has led the fight to create health equity and justice for people living with and disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS. AFC brings together service providers and funders to develop systems that meet the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS and to maximize the use of scarce resources. AFC is committed to working with policymakers and service providers to increase funding for prevention services and programs that work. 

AFC mobilizes communities to create equity and justice for people living with and vulnerable to HIV or chronic conditions. AFC aspires to create a world in which people living with HIV or chronic conditions will thrive, and there will be no new HIV cases. More at:

Categorized under AFC news, Chicago, Inside Story and Public Statements.

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