Abstract: More Than a Warm Hand-Off: Capacity Building with Organizations during Times of Compounding Crises (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

More Than a Warm Hand-Off: Capacity Building with Organizations during Times of Compounding Crises

Friday, January 14, 2022
Liberty Ballroom I, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Maria Wilson, EdD, LMSW, LVN, Senior Researcher, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Bec Sokha Keo, PhD, MSW, Public Impact Scholar, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Megan Stanton, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
Samira Ali, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Background and Purpose: Latinx and transgender, and gender non-conforming (TGNC) communities are among groups disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. In the Southern US, the burden of HIV is further exacerbated by interpersonal and systemic racism, xenophobia, and transphobia. Additionally, the COVID19 pandemic, regional natural disasters, and acceleration of white supremacy situate these organizations in socio-political-environmental circumstances that further limit access to funding, resources, and capacity to serve these communities adequately. Despite these limitations, small grassroots organizations led by or primarily serving Latinx and TGNC communities lead efforts to respond to community needs. The aims of this paper are to 1) reflect on qualitative findings from evaluative data on facilitators, barriers, and impact of Latinx and TGNC led programs in the South; 2) compare and contrast facilitators, barriers, and impact of funded Latinx and TGNC led programs; and 3) utilize this data to strategize for cross-movement solidarity between Latinx and TGNC communities of color in the upcoming year.

Methods: A comparative analysis was completed between 3 cohorts of funded community partners between 2019-2020 in a Capacity Building Wellness Center based in a social work graduate program at a large public university. Qualitative data were drawn from field notes taken during programmatic calls and closeout interviews. Thematic analyses were employed to compare and contrast facilitators, barriers, and impact of Latinx and TGNC funded programs.

Results: In total, the organizations were granted $233,795 in direct funds. Organizations included 11 Latinx-led or serving groups and 13 TGNC-led or serving groups across 8 southern states (AL, FL, GA, LA, NC, SC, TN, TX). Most (81%) organizations were Latinx or Black-led, and staff size varied from 0 to 120. Shared barriers to implementing their programs included COVID-19 restrictions, natural disasters, while barriers unique to each group included racism, language access, and transphobia. Shared facilitators for implementing their programs included flexibility of programmatic work, virtual programming, and funding while facilitators unique to each group included programming and resources in their native language and virtual spaces to enhance access to TGNC affirming care. Finally, the shared impact of their programs included community connectedness while impacts unique to Latinx organizations were mobilization compared to increasing access to TGNC affirming general, gender, and HIV by TGNC led groups.

Conclusion and Implications: The results of participant ethnographic data and notes from the field will outline where Latinx and TGNC communities share experiences during unsettling times. However, the two encounter unique barriers and approaches that vary to responding to community needs. Findings will inform how the Capacity Building Wellness Center will enhance programmatic work to support Latinx and TGNC organizations in 2021.