In 2011, amfAR launched the Global Advocacy Corps, a small grants program that supports original policy analysis, reporting, and advocacy throughout the world. These projects are intended to help make national responses to HIV more effective and to support civil society organizations already engaged in advocacy work.
“We’ve seen the positive impact of our own policy analysis and wanted to support this type of work in other countries,” said Owen Ryan, amfAR’s deputy director of public policy. “Civil society advocates throughout the world are often doing analysis and strategic planning with limited or no support. We wanted to change that.”
With the initial round of projects wrapping up, progress is visible. “It’s still very early, and projects like these take probably about two years to see an impact,” said Ryan. “But we have seen that we have been able to integrate the type of policy analysis and budget monitoring that amfAR’s Public Policy Office is known for with the type of grant making and community assistance strengthening that the GMT Initiative excels at.” amfAR’s GMT Initiative (formerly the MSM Initiative) provides grants to grassroots groups to help expand access to HIV services; support advocacy; and bolster efforts to end the stigma, discrimination, and violence that threatens the lives of GMT and fuels the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The Global Advocacy Corps funds community based organizations that have established themselves as strong advocates but need support to do policy analysis work. “What’s really the premium here is time,” said Ryan. “Analyzing national policy and budget data in a way that effects real change requires smart people and perseverance. We find over and over how effective advocates are pulled in a million directions. We’re hoping the Global Advocacy Corps will provide the resources that allow civil society groups to identify the most important policy changes in their countries.”
Last year, the program funded grants in Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Swaziland with a deliberate focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. This year, the program hopes to expand to Eastern Europe and Asia. Ryan says that ultimately he’d like to be able to point to examples of former Global Advocacy Corps grantees who are continuing this type of work on their own in a few years’ time.
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