Atlanta AIDS Group Says ‘Racism’ Played Role in Allocation of Ryan White Funds
The National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities, an Atlanta-based AIDS organization, has said that "racism" is partly to blame for its shrinking allotment of funding from the Ryan White CARE Act, Southern Voice, the nation's largest gay and lesbian newspaper, reports. NAESM received approximately $89,000 in Ryan White funds for 2001, marking the second consecutive year that the group did not receive all the money it requested. Delores Rollins, deputy director of NAESM, said that $89,000 is "significantly" less than what the group originally requested during the application process last year. The majority of the group's funding for this year -- all but $1,400 -- comes from Ryan White funds distributed by the Office of Minority Health's Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, which started giving out some CARE act funding last year. NAESM's share of Ryan White funds that did not come from the CBC were given to the organization "only to purchase" public transportation tokens for clients who could not afford them. Rollins said that Fulton County officials in charge of distributing Ryan White funds have been cutting NAESM's yearly allocation because it serves minorities. "Racism is the reality," Rollins said, adding that the money they receive from Ryan White through the CBC "was never meant to replace other monies" the group received through Ryan White.
Jeff Cheek, who oversees the distribution of Ryan White funds for the Atlanta area, said that NAESM was denied part of its request because its grant applications were "not sufficient." He added that the committee that reviews the applications was "not able to see what it was that [NAESM] wanted to do with the money," because it "wasn't clear what the impact would be or how clients would benefit" from the group's funding requests. Cheek said that allegations of racism on the part of him or the committee are "unfounded." He said that the majority of the members of the review committee are minorities and that AIDS groups serving minorities received more than $10 million of the $15 million in Ryan White funds allocated for the metro Atlanta area. Rollins questioned why NAESM's application "was good enough to receive funding under the CBC pool of money" but not from local officials. Cheek said that the money distributed through the CBC and the funding allocated through local government officials come from "two pools of funding using different criteria." NAESM has filed a grievance with the Health Resources and Services Administration charging that the application process "was not properly followed" (Erickson, Southern Voice, 9/21).