The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has allocated a Health Resources and Service Administration grant to TransVision under the initiative of enhancing engagement and retention in quality HIV care for transgender women of color in the form of $300,000 per year for five years.
“This has been a long, hard year for us as a program,” said Tiffany Woods, coordinator of TransVision. “We’re most excited about naming the grant the Brandy Martell Project to honor her memory.”
Martell, 37, died April 29 after a gunman shot her as she and some friends sat in her car near 13th and Franklin streets in downtown Oakland. The case remains unsolved.
“It’s a big deal for HRSA not only because they’ve never done transgender funding before,” Woods said, “but also because they’re designating specifically transgender women of color.”
TransVision clients affected by profiling will now have access to a lawyer that will help them navigate the criminal justice system to reduce penalties incurred, Woods explained.
HRSA grant money is also enabling TransVision to hire consultants to implement a series of life skills classes. The workshops will include GED/high school diploma preparation, financial management information, “Know Your Rights” training, immigration 101, and domestic violence education. Monetary compensation for taking the classes has also increased, which will contribute to a rise in class enrollment and retention, Woods said.
In addition, clients will be linked to individual case management that will oversee their health care and life skills development.
Last year, TransVision operated on a budget of $85,000. With the HRSA grant, the budget now sits just under $400,000 per year, enabling a significant expansion in services.
“While Brandy’s name will always be attached to her murder, which remains unsolved,” Woods said, “now we’ll read it in a positive light. It’s all over federal documents, which is another way to create awareness around violence against the transgender community.”