Frugal AIDS Project of Central Iowa Makes Smaller Grant Go a Long Way

Iowa Photo  Iowa Photo
In addition to other essential services, AIDS Project of Central Iowa helps clients afford GED certification classes
and covers veterinary bills so others can keep their pets healthy

By Andy Smith

From education to pet care, Des Moines-based AIDS Project of Central Iowa knows how to stretch a dollar during tough times and is a prime example of ways in which even small BC/EFA grants can make a big difference.

“Broadway Cares 2008 grant of $5000.00 helped us provide quality-of-life funds to our HIV positive clients,” says Rhea Van Brocklin, the organization’s Program/Community Relations Director.  “It helped pay for GED certification, licensing for trade jobs, English as a second language classes, books and materials for their children to attend school, and veterinary care for their beloved pets.”

Founded in 1993, APCI’s programming includes two key components.

“Our Care Services department provides medical case management, information and referral, housing assistance, emergency financial assistance, volunteer support, mental health services, and food pantry,” she says. “While our Prevention Services department provides free confidential HIV and Hepatitis C testing, rapid HIV testing, outreach services, education and referral, individualized risk-reduction planning, group workshops, and community events commemorating national HIV awareness days.

In a nutshell, with a staff of 14 and over 50 volunteers, this ASO serves 320 HIV+ clients in 14 counties, providing and provide prevention services to over 4000 people at risk for HIV each year, all on a budget of under $1 million (about $900,000).  And despite this not-so-big budget, APCI is the largest HIV/AIDS service and prevention agency in the state (total population: 2.9 million).

Hardscrabble Times
Like many ASOs, Van Brocklin’s is experiencing a high level of need from clients because of the rough economic times.

“We’ve seen an increase in emergency financial assistance and use of our food pantry over the past few months.  Our Ryan White Part B program has been flat-funded for a number of years, even though our caseloads of HIV+ clients continue to rise,” she says. “In addition, foundations and individual donations have not given as much as past years, probably because of the nation’s economic hardship.”

Funding staff, services and operational expenses remains a challenge. Direct mail appeals and two major events – including an annual AIDS Walk/Run – and a handful of other fundraising initiatives raise about 10% of ACPI’s $900,000 budget, with over 50% coming from federal and state sources, she stresses.

“All the additional funding comes through foundation grants and donations,” Van Brocklin says, adding. “Like the one from your organization.  Thank you, Broadway Cares, for your support in helping us achieve our agency’s mission!”