Community Foundation, Sir Elton John and partners launch AIDSfree appeal

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Community Foundation and partners spotlight continued fight against HIV/AIDS in Atlanta

Sir Elton John passionately reaffirms commitment to using his influence to combat disease in a city he holds dear

ATLANTA – December 3, 2018 – Georgia leads the nation in new infections of HIV/AIDS and Atlanta is in the top five of cities in the U.S. for new infections, at a time when many communities are seeing declines in new diagnoses.

This stark reality was the focus as experts in the local response to this crisis gathered for an impactful, and often emotional, dialog led by those on the front lines of the challenge. Part-time Atlanta resident, Sir Elton John, and representatives from the Elton John AIDS Foundation were on hand to hear the latest data and impact about HIV/AIDS in our region as part of the launch of AIDSfree, an appeal that will support Elton John AIDS Foundation funding in six cities globally, including Atlanta.

Participants included a patient living with HIV, medical personnel and leaders of nonprofits and funders focused on the issue. The event, held in connection with World AIDS day and hosted by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Grady Health Foundation, Grady Health System and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, took place at Grady’s Ponce De Leon Center. Sandra Thurman, the chief strategy officer in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, facilitated the discussion.

Sir Elton John spoke with passion that it’s heartbreaking to see the state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic today in Atlanta, comparing it to the early days of the disease when people were stigmatized and often shunned from their families and society at large. He committed his full support, and that of his Foundation, to be a loud and persistent voice to ensure people aren’t left behind in this fight.

New cases of HIV/AIDS in this region are largely concentrated within the young, African American male population. According to AIDSVu¹, there are approximately 35,400 people currently living with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta. Of those, 80.2 percent are male and 19.8 percent female. More than 70 percent are African American, nearly seven percent are Hispanic and more than 18 percent are white. The rate of black males living with an HIV diagnosis is 4.8 times that of white males.

“The energy and raw emotion in the room during this dialog was palpable, and so was the clear call to action that we must all stay committed to this fight,” said Alicia Philipp, president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and one of the presenters during the discussion. “It’s critical to keep awareness of HIV/AIDS in the forefront for funding, especially from the philanthropic community. We must be sure that people in this vulnerable population still being infected have knowledge and access to quality care and support. I commend Sir Elton John for lending his voice and his influence in such a public way. We need others with that level of influence here in the Atlanta community to have the same courage to step up and be the face and voice of change.”

The Community Foundation has been involved in the response to this health crisis from the early days of the disease’s impact in Atlanta, when the disease was still known as GRID (Gay Related Immune Disease). The Foundation made its first related grant in 1982 and the Atlanta AIDS Fund was created in 1991 to support metro Atlanta’s HIV/AIDS advocacy, prevention education and service efforts through funding and leadership. To date, through the Atlanta AIDS Fund and through donor-advised fund grants from Foundation donors, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $15 million in grants toward nonprofits that provide HIV/AIDS-related services.

Significant funding and impact milestones for the Atlanta AIDS Fund include:

  • In 1988, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta was selected as one of the first partners in a Ford Foundation initiative, the National Community Aids Partnership (NCAP). As a result, the Atlanta AIDS Fund was established to make grants for preventative education and direct care in the metro Atlanta area. NCAP made a matching commitment of up to $500,000 with local charitable dollars. By 1990, the Community Foundation had raised enough to secure the match from NCAP.
  • In 1990, the Community Foundation and United Way of Metro Atlanta agreed to collaboratively administer the Atlanta AIDS Fund.
  • Since 2004, the Atlanta AIDS Fund has been a beneficiary of Jeffrey Fashion Cares, an annual fundraiser founded by fashion retailer Jeffrey Kalinsky, featuring a curated fashion show and auction. In 2017, Jeffrey Fashion Cares awarded $300,000 to Atlanta AIDS Fund.
  • Between 2008 and 2014 the Elton John AIDS Foundation awarded multiple grants to the Atlanta AIDS Fund, totaling more than $228,000, to support organizations in the region that provide care and outreach.
  • Recent grant recipients related to HIV/AIDS in our region include:

Nonprofits interested in applying for a grant can learn more about the Atlanta AIDS Fund here.

The Ponce De Leon Center, which is part of Grady Memorial Hospital, is one of the largest, most comprehensive facilities dedicated to the treatment of advanced HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The Ponce Center and its onsite affiliates provide various medical and support services to more than 6,000 eligible men, women, adolescents, and children living with HIV/AIDS. Sir Elton John was on hand when the Ponce Center first opened 25 years ago, which impacted his decision to visit the center for an update on the Atlanta HIV/AIDS landscape in conjunction with World AIDS Day and the Atlanta stop on his three year, 300-city farewell performance tour.


Photo, from left: John Haupert, CEO, Grady Health System; Sandra Thurman, chief strategy officer in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy; Alicia Philipp, president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta at Grady’s Ponce De Leon Center as part of the launch of AIDSfree, an appeal that will support Elton John AIDS Foundation funding in six cities globally, including Atlanta.

About the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Since 1951, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has been connecting the passions of philanthropists with the purposes of nonprofits doing that work. With 67 years serving the 23-county Atlanta region and a robust team of experts, the Community Foundation manages the behind-the-scenes details, empowering our donors to focus on the joy of giving. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation nationally with approximately $1.1 billion in current assets and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. Through its quality services and innovative leadership on community issues, the Foundation received more than $144 million from donors in 2017 and distributed more than $100 million that same year to support nonprofits throughout the region and beyond. In 2018 Charity Navigator named the Community Foundation a four-star rated nonprofit, its top distinction. For more information, visit: or connect with the Foundation via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contact:

Louise Mulherin, 404.405.1070