HIV Young Leaders Fund was founded by young health activists at the June 2009 Oslo Young Leaders Summit. The 2009 Oslo Young Leaders Summit – organized by aids2031, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNAIDS – convened young leaders from around the world to develop long-term solutions to issues faced by young people in the HIV response. During the lead-up to the Summit, young participants identified barriers to accessing funds as a major impediment to supporting a new generation of HIV activists.
HYLF formed to address these barriers, becoming operational in January 2010. A global survey conducted in several languages informed the design of HYLF’s structure and funding priorities, and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition played a critical role in advising HYLF on its program
Later in May 2014, HYLF became an independent organization registered as a Stichting (Foundation) in the Netherlands, thus bringing a new learning era for the organization. Through all these years HYLF has worked, together with grantees, partners, stakeholders and friends, to enable new leadership and bring the voices of young people and other key populations to the forefront of the HIV response.
We recognize that communities and young people face diverse and very specific needs and challenges depending the region they live, the access they have to basic human rights and the existing laws and policies that govern each country or region. This is reflected in how we dimension and implement our Small Grants Programmes and the way we build our Supervisory Board and our Community Review Panel.
We acknowledge diversity as a pillar for development. People, programmes and governance bodies within our organization actively promote the rights of young people living with HIV, young lesbians, gay, bisexual and trans youth, indigenous youth, young migrants, young sex workers, young people who use drugs, young people living in poverty, youth from ethnic or religious minorities, and young people with disabilities.
It means that grant decisions will be made by reviewers who live and work in the regions of grant applicants, and that the ¡HYLF’s Supervisory Board has currently 5 members from 4 different countries representing different affected communities. HYLF will work to ensure people of all genders are involved in decisions about grant making and in HYLF’s governance.
We aim to close the funding gap in youth-led HIV initiatives by supporting projects led by and serving young people 30 years and younger who are seeking to make a difference in the AIDS response and who are often excluded from or unreached by existing programs. We specifically focus on supporting work that is unfunded or underfunded by existing funding mechanisms, including core funding for youth-led organizations.
We promote and advocate for young people from key affected populations to hold decision-making spaces in their organizations, communities and in high-level seats and processes. In addition, our Supervisory Board is composed of young leaders from different HIV networks, grant reviewers and grant recipients are young people under the age of 30 and this also includes supporting capacity and skills development through training and education for those most affected by the HIV epidemic.
HIV Young Leaders Fund’s mission is to invest in young people’s leadership in the HIV response.
HYLF’s Theory of Change is that providing a youth-led HIV initiative with a small grant empowers young people to address the needs of their peers. As they manage and implement the funded work, young people and their organizations develop leadership skills and become visible within their community’s HIV response. These new advocates take their insights and knowledge to policymakers, governments and others to advocate for a more effective HIV response.
In addition, HYLF builds youth leadership throughout all aspects of its organization through a continuum of leadership capacity development processes, including: