Rapid Response Fund Catalytic Grants

A man stands in a doorway ©Frontline AIDS/Tony Kawimbe/Arete/2020
Black and people of colour are disproportionately affected by HIV.

Key information

  • Organisation: Frontline AIDS
  • Country: Guyana, Malawi, Myanmar, Nigeria, Vietnam
  • Region: Caribbean; Asia and the Pacific; Eastern and southern Africa; Western and central Africa
  • Stage of innovation: Stage 6: In the market and ready to scale
  • Start date: Nov 2020
  • End date: May 2021
  • Type of innovation: Services delivery innovation: new or different way of providing a service
  • Budget: US$20,00 (per country)
  • Funded by: EJAF

Summary of intervention

COVID-19 is increasing inequalities, discrimination and criminalisation of marginalised groups and the organisations that serve them. Marginalised people are now more vulnerable to police abuse, arbitrary arrest and detention due to restrictions on movement. Lockdowns have resulted in intimate partner violence increasing. The supply of HIV treatment and prevention services has also been disrupted.

Launched in April 2020, the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund was set up in partnership with Frontline AIDS to sustain HIV prevention and care for the most marginalised communities during the pandemic. The fund offers Catalytic Grants, which support innovative ways to expand access to local HIV services during and following the COVID-19 crisis. These grants are designed to seize on opportunities for new ways of working that COVID-19 has created. In some places, marginalised communities have experienced positive changes, such as multi-month refills of HIV medication or home-based delivery of medication and harm reduction services.

Frontline AIDS has identified five organisations that have demonstrated innovation to sustain HIV services, such as community ARV distribution to people in lockdown. Each will receive a Catalytic Grant of up to US$20,000 for interventions that sustain these gains.


The Rapid Response Fund already has a robust due diligence procedure and the experience and skills to carry out a considered selection process. This was essential as there was a high volume of applications (129) but only five available grants.

next steps

  • Frontline AIDS’ experience and reputation, EJAF’s global brand, and the data collected through the project will be used to generate interest in it from key international agencies, such as UNAIDS and the Global Fund. The aim is to galvanise these agencies to better promote community innovation for HIV programming during crises such as COVID-19.
  • Frontline AIDS will hold a high-level panel webinar with actors such as UNAIDS, leading key population networks and the Global Fund. This will be used to announce the catalyst grantees, and to celebrate the power and importance of community innovations.
  • By documenting successes and sharing learnings, other organisations will benefit from this project. Community-based HIV programmes will become more resilient to future airborne pandemics and lockdowns through the trialling and sustaining of such innovative practices.