Wednesday, August 24, 2016

3 important things to think about before implementing your Mpowerment Project

Before implementing a Project, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of thinking through the following: 

1) how to obtain adequate funding for the Project; 
2) what qualifications and characteristics are needed in the people who will be hired to run it; and 
3) what options exist in the community for a distinct Project space.

Our research has shown that organizations that strategize and plan ahead are much more effective at implementing the Mpowerment Project than organizations that do not.

RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project? Download Module 1: Mpowerment Overview for free here
United Black Ellument (U-BE), Mpowerment Dallas TX
Securing Adequate Funding

Implementing the Mpowerment Project requires substantially more resources than educational programs that deliver AIDS 101 talks, street outreach, or brochure distribution. If you plan to implement the Mpowerment Project, you need to have funding for at least one full time Coordinator, but it is better to have at least another half-time Coordinator (and our research shows that two full-time staff is by far preferable). And importantly, when we talk about time spent on the Mpowerment Project, it does not include time working on HIV testing and counseling

In addition, it is important to find a space to house the Project. Without a sufficient budget to support the expenses of staff and Project space, it will be difficult to implement the Mpowerment Project very effectively (Download sample Mpowerment Project expenses when you register for free at

RELATED3 important reasons for having a separate space for the Mpowerment Project

The Project’s goals are to reduce sexual risk behavior and increase knowledge of current HIV sero-status among young gay and bisexual men by developing a strong, healthy, empowered community of men who support each other in reducing their sexual risk behavior, in getting HIV testing, using condoms or obtaining PrEP getting into and/or maintaining their health-care if one is living with HIV as well as functioning successfully in the larger society where heterosexuality is the norm. With respect to implementing the Mpowerment Project, the agency’s objectives include recruiting, hiring, and supervising staff; securing and maintaining an adequate Project space; coordinating the Core Group; sponsoring effective Social Outreach activities; and diffusing norms of safer sex and testing throughout the entire young gay and bisexual men’s community. Considering the scope of Project objectives and activities, it should be clear why at least one full-time staff member is a necessity, and why two full-time staff members are preferable to implement the intervention successfully.

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An agency needs to be creative and resourceful in generating adequate funding for the Project. Many, if not most, HIV Prevention Planning Councils have identified young gay/bisexual men as a high priority for prevention services. The Mpowerment Project is listed in the CDC’s Compendium of HIVPrevention Interventions with Evidence of Effectiveness, which includes programs shown to be effective through rigorous scientific evaluation. The Mpowerment Project is the only HIV prevention intervention that has been tested through rigorous research methods and has been shown to be effective in reducing unsafe sex among young gay/bisexual men. The CDC, which funds many HIV prevention efforts, strongly urges the implementation of programs that have been shown to be effective through research. Thus, referring to the Compendium will add considerable strength to any grant proposals you write. For the same reason, it makes sense to apply for funding to health departments, which are likely to be receptive to any program that research says works. Some local or national foundations may also be interested in funding part of or the entire Project. In addition, it may also be worthwhile to investigate other sources of funding for parts of the intervention, such as community foundation grants, local hospitals, or other local funding mechanisms. In addition, organizations sometimes obtain partial funding from their state health department, and supplement it (for example, for space) from a community grantor or through other fund-raising efforts.

It may not always be necessary to seek new funding sources if agencies are able and willing to reallocate existing funds by modifying current programming. Since the Mpowerment Project may meet the requirements of existing grants, contracts, or program objectives, if the organization already has funding for MSM or gay and bisexual men’s programming, it may be worthwhile to discuss this possibility with the funder.

RELATEDFunding best practices, interview with a funder.

RELATED:  16 Steps for starting the Mpowerment Project in your community.

Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training


The implementing agency is responsible for advertising the Project Coordinator positions, and for hiring, training, and supervising these staff members. More than anything else, the success of the Mpowerment Project depends on recruiting and retaining talented and committed young men to coordinate the Project. Through our work with organizations implementing the Mpowerment Project, we have found that this may be the single most important ingredient that leads to success. Consequently, it is essential that the implementing agency invest sufficient time and energy into locating the right staff. Project Coordinators must be outgoing, sociable, comfortable talking to strangers and groups, and passionate about this new way of delivering HIV prevention to young gay and bisexual men. The Coordinators need to be very knowledgeable about the young MSM community, such as what are major segments of the young men’s community, where they hang out and their culture, and this is best achieved by being part of some young gay/bisexual men’s social networks.

Given the staff’s central importance in the Mpowerment Project, it is important that an agency not simply hire people who are already on staff to fill Coordinator positions without carefully considering if they are well qualified for this role. Our research has shown that these positions usually require individuals who are currently from and quite socially active within the MSM community. The characteristics listed above may or may not fit the description of staff who are already at an organization. If they do not have these qualities, a thorough search for suitable staff is imperative. More information about Coordinators’ roles and responsibilities can be found later in this module, as well as in Module 4: Coordinators. Module 4: Coordinators is a free download when you register at 

RELATED: Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training

Follow the Q Austin, Mpowerment TX on twitter: @q_austin

Agency policies, attitudes, and environment

The implementing agency must be comfortable with three very basic concepts that are integral to the success of any Mpowerment Project. First, the agency must be comfortable letting the Core Group make decisions for the Project. This is an integral part of the program, since empowering the young gay/bisexual men’s community is central to the program’s purpose.

Second, the implementing agency must be comfortable working with young gay and bisexual men. Although this may sound obvious, in our research we have observed situations where the implementing agency behaved judgmentally towards young gay/bisexual men, and developed policies and procedures that reflected their discomfort. Third, self-defeating attitudes and beliefs held by staff at implementing agencies about HIV prevention with young gay and bisexual men, or about the Mpowerment Project itself is a major barrier to running a successful Mpowerment Project.

We have worked with many agencies who feel that young gay and bisexual men will never change their behavior, that the community is too apathetic to get involved, or that a community-mobilization approach to prevention will never succeed. We acknowledge that HIV prevention can be difficult and frustrating work, but negative beliefs make the work even harder, and they often become self-fulfilling prophecies by dooming a Project before it ever starts.

It may be necessary to change some agency policies in order to implement the Mpowerment Project effectively. As a prime example, agency management must understand that because much of the work of running the Mpowerment Project takes place outside of regular business hours, the Coordinators cannot work regular “nine-to-five” jobs.

In order to reach clients, a large portion of the work needs to be done in the evenings and on weekends. For this reason, management must be prepared to defend the need for Mpowerment Project staff to work these hours, should other agency staff question the absence of Coordinators during regular business hours. Many agencies have actually changed work-hour policies, as well as other policies that may hamper the ability for the Mpowerment Project to be implemented effectively.

MPowerment LI, Long Island New York, NY
Project Space

It is best to decide where the Mpowerment Project will be housed as early as possible in the planning process. Ideally, the space that is selected can suitably host a variety of Project activities, from small group gatherings to larger social events. If the chosen space is shared with others, it is important that the Mpowerment Project have sole use of the space on a frequent and recurring basis. Further, if a shared space cannot be customized to reflect the gay positive/sex positive nature of the Project, a different space should be found. During our research, we learned of Mpowerment Projects that shared space with other programs that balked at openly displaying posters, invitations, and other HIV prevention materials targeting gay/bisexual men. Since it is imperative to have such materials out and freely available to Project participants, these spaces did not work well. The issue of Project Space is discussed in greater detail in Module 6: Project Space.  Module 6 is a free download when you register at

RELATED3 important reasons for having a separate space for the Mpowerment Project.

Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training
Read more in Module 3: Implementing Agency, a free download when you register at 

The objectives of Module 3 are to familiarize you with the responsibilities and functions of the implementing agency, including: 

  1. the different types of agencies that host Mpowerment Projects;
  2. suggested guidelines for leadership;
  3. planning for the Mpowerment Project before implementation;
  4. funding issues;
  5. agency policies, attitudes, and environment;
  6. staff selection and training, including sample job descriptions and interview questions;
  7. project supervision; and
  8. creating and maintaining good community relations.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Elect this! | National Voter Registration Day. Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"2016 is a presidential election year, and we want every American to celebrate our nation's democracy by registering to vote and heading to the polls."


Scroll down to find:
Talking points
Rock-the-vote via MTV
VOTE! Posters for your Project Space
Social media resources
Read me - articles of interest  


Talking points
  • Every election, millions of American cannot cast a ballot because they do not know how to register or missed their local registration deadlines. National Voter Registration Day was created to combat this and make sure the American political process leaves no one behind.
  • National Voter Registration Day is the largest one-day effort of the year to register voters. It falls on the fourth (4th) Tuesday of September. This year, National Voter Registration Day is September 27, 2016.
  • In addition to the 2016 presidential race, countless number of state and federal elections will take place in November. This underscores the need to get registered now.
  • Registering to vote is easy. You can stare the process online at or at hundreds of National Voter Registration Day events across the nation. 
  • In 2016, all 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives will be up for election. 32 of the 100 seats in the Senate are being contested. 12 state governors and 44 state legislatures are holding elections. This is one of the many reasons National Voter Registration Day is so important. On September 27, all Americans should make sure they are registered to vote.
  • We encourage every Mpowerment Project to get involved!   


     "Let's make history! Everyday, nearly 12,000 Americans turn 18. Millennials are over 80 million strong and growing, and we're the largest most diverse generation in our country's history. As the largest living generation, we have the power to define our future."  via Rock the Vote - MTV | Website  

      Elect this!  We have real issues. via MTV

Host your own 'Rock the Vote' event (download the MTV voter event toolkit).


VOTE promotional posters for your Project Space.  

Get out the vote. via Professional Association of Design


Social Media Resources

Facebook.  The NVRD Facebook page engages users by making everyone aware of resources and activities surrounding NVRD.

Twitter.  THE NVRD twitter engages partner organizations in conversations about NVRD. Use the hashtag #VoterRegistrationDay.

Youtube. How to vote in every state

Tweet me

Join us in Celebrating Democracy in America! National Voter Registration Day is 9/27. #VoterRegistrationDay

What’s #VoterRegistrationDay all about? Learn more at

Have you moved in recent years? Make sure you’re registered to #vote at your new address! #VoterRegistrationDay

Register in September to #vote in November. National Voter Registration Day is 9/27! #VoterRegistrationDay 


Read me

United States Elections 2016 via Wikipedia.