Elton John AIDS Foundation: Grants for Disease

OVERVIEW: The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) is a major grantmaker in the HIV/AIDS space, but it isn't an endowed foundation. It raises money from donors and then distributes grants to like-minded organizations throughout the year.

IP TAKE: EJAF isn’t scared of funding the gritty, front-lines work required to prevent and hopefully eliminate AIDS. Its efforts reach some of the most marginalized groups in the United States. 

PROFILE: Initially established in 1992 as a pass-through organization for funds coming from the National AIDS Fund and others, EJAF has retooled its focus to be as much about fundraising as activism. The foundation’s New York office handles grantmaking activities taking place in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

EJAF supports HIV/AIDS organizations that are working toward its stated goals, which include wellness, rights, quality of life and resilience for people affected by HIV. Particular areas of focus include:

  • Advocating for improved governed health policies
  • Piloting or scaling programs promoting health and rights
  • Bringing attention to and advocated for the curbing the HIV epidemic
  • Interventions toward the prevention of HIV contraction

EJAF goes where the infection rates are highest, and really seeks to work within the often seriously disadvantaged communities where new infections happen regularly. In these places, says executive director Scott Campbell, the AIDS issue is inextricably tied to other societal issues like poverty and racial inequality. “The problems are intersectional,” says Campbell. “If [your organization] says it’s interested in poverty but you’re not talking about HIV, then I don’t think you’re that interested in poverty.”

Program-wise, EJAF centers its grantmaking on six key areas where the need for AIDS prevention is highest. In the U.S. EJAF targets the following groups in its grantmaking:

  • Gay men
  • Young people
  • Black communities
  • Injection drug users
  • Former prison inmates

The foundation also supports work to scale up government HIV programming. And EJAF recently partnered up with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to address the AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States.

Most grants out of EJAF range from $50,000 to $150,000, with occasional awards landing in the $300,000 to $1 million range, but those high-dollar awards are a rarity. To get a better idea of the type of HIV/AIDS work EJAF supports, where, and at what level, take a look at its grantmaking page.

The foundation accepts Letters of Inquiry between May 1 and June 15. Full proposals for a single year of funding can be made upon invitation. Further information can be found here

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