Earlier this year, HRC Foundation announced the inaugural class of the 2016 HIV 360° Fellowship Program. Made possible with generous support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, HIV 360° is a capacity-building fellowship program for young, non-profit leaders ready to take HIV-inclusive organizations and initiatives to the next level.
The HRC blog recently sat down with each of the fellows to discuss the program, their work, and their vision of an AIDS-free generation.
Tyrell Manning, 30, is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community. Tyrell has been a key driver of change within Williams & Associates, where he currently serves as Regional Integration Specialist and site coordinator of Rustin’s Place, a youth drop-in center. He strives to be a positive mentor for young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and to create safe spaces that offer growth and promote healing among young Black MSM in his local community.
How did you first get involved with the movement to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic? How, if at all, did that inspire you to become an HIV 360° Fellow?
I was on a search to find “family” within the gay community when someone invited me to a Williams & Associates’ event called Bro-Fest. From the moment I walked in the door, I felt accepted, affirmed and loved. I began to volunteer with Williams & Associates and eventually realized this is something I wanted to do professionally.
Growing up, I watched AIDS take a toll my uncle’s life, so having the opportunity to create change in a community that I loved was the perfect fit. When I heard about HRC’s new fellowship program, I knew I had to apply. I wanted to use this fellowship program as an opportunity to bring attention to my city and the Midwest.
Each fellow has been asked to design, implement, and evaluate a community service project to combat HIV transmission rates in their respective communities. Tell us about yours and what you hope to accomplish with it.
Project Aware aims to combat some of the barriers that keep Black MSM in St. Louis from taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). I plan to increase the number of Black gay and bisexual men utilizing PrEP through fun but educational brunches that provide food, fellowship, and most importantly, information about PrEP. The men who attend these events will also have the opportunity to make medical appointments, sign up for insurance, and take advantage of other quality of life services.
What is one key learning you’ve gained from the fellowship program? What have you enjoyed the most about it?
I’ve really benefited from the program’s sessions on leadership, communication and delegation. I’ve also enjoyed using this program as an opportunity to truly figure out why I do this work and to refine my non-profit management skills. I’ve also enjoyed how open HRC staff have been, especially the two administrators of the program. They are always available to answer questions, give direction and provide clarity. Finally, I am truly grateful for the bonds that have developed between people in my cohort. It feels so good to know I have a network and family of supporters outside of the city!
How can people learn more about your organization and support the work you are doing?
To learn more about the HIV 360° fellowship program itself, click here. Also, check out: