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Donald Davis, Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition

From Project Launch to Grant Awards: Creating the HepConnect Initiative | Harm Reduction & Community Education Program

The United States is experiencing rising rates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections; in greater Appalachia, the increase in injection drug use has led to a more than three-fold rise in HCV infection rates (CDC). Harm reduction services in this region vary widely by state and even county — the HepConnect Initiative lifts up what has already been started and doubles down with funding and added capacity from Harm Reduction Coalition to improve and expand existing syringe services programs and create fertile ground with supportive communities for new programs.

Harm Reduction Coalition awarded more than $5.3 million in grant funding to 44 projects from 32 organizations under the HepConnect Initiative. Grantees will use funds to provide new or expanded harm reduction services for people who use drugs (e.g. supplies, outreach sites and mobile vans, and testing materials). Funding also supports staffing and creating positions, training, and support groups for people who use drugs. This represents the largest portfolio of harm reduction specific funding offered by a non-governmental organization in history.

To learn more about the project from launch to grant awards, including the RFP and selection process, project timeline, and more background, please view the full report.

$5.3 Million in HepConnect Grants Announced

Harm Reduction Coalition is proud to award more than $5.3 million in grant funding to 44 projects from 32 organizations with generous support from Gilead Sciences under the HepConnect Initiative.

Grants were awarded in two categories: Provide and Educate. Grantees will use funds to provide new or expanded harm reduction services for people who use drugs (e.g. supplies, outreach sites and mobile vans, and testing materials) or to educate the community about harm reduction (e.g. public education, advocacy campaigns). Funding also supports staffing and creating positions, training, and support groups for people who use drugs.

About HepConnect

HepConnect is a regional initiative that focuses on the intersection of hepatitis C and drug use in five key states: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Thanks to the generous support of Gilead Sciences, Harm Reduction Coalition will serve as HepConnect’s lead organization. Under the HepConnect Initiative, Harm Reduction Coalition will make investments through grant-making in building program capacity and supporting targeted outreach and education, provide on-the-ground technical assistance, and convene stakeholders to strengthen local, state, and regional partnerships.

We spent much of 2018 working on how to change the way to do our work. For many years, we have heard from our partners on the ground that they need more than just technical assistance, capacity building, and support on policy advocacy. You have been very clear, you need resources and boots on the ground. As we presented our new strategic priorities during our national conference, we heard again that in order to build the harm reduction movement and center the voices of people who use drugs, we must find ways to strengthen and expand local programs. We need to focus on the intersections of overdose, hepatitis C, and syringe access by centering directly impacted members of our communities. We are so excited to announce the launch of HepConnect, a new initiative that allows Harm Reduction Coalition to invest deeply in five key states to expand service capacity and build our movement! You can watch the national launch of the HepConnect featuring our Executive Director Monique Tula and a follow up conversation with Donald Davis of Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition about the initiative.

Read more about why our team and why our partners in the five states are excited about this initiative!

“This is an exciting turning point for the national Harm Reduction Coalition that redefines the way we do our work. As the lead organization for the HepConnect initiative, we are committed to ensuring these resources generate maximum impact by reaching organizations and programs operating on the front lines. As the National Harm Reduction Coalition, we’ll bring our 25 year history of advocating alongside people who use drugs to deepen harm reduction work in Greater Appalachia centering the voices of people with lived experience.”

– Monique Tula, Executive Director

Want to hear about HepConnect updates and local initiatives in your state? Please be sure to sign up.

Request For Proposals

Request For Proposals (RFP) were released on June 24, 2019 and are currently closed. Please click the link below to direct you to all application materials and instructions. 

We are creating the RFP based on themes we’ve heard through our state listening sessions, one on one consultations, and previous work in the five HepConnect initiative states to ensure that the funding opportunities is in alignment with community needs. Funds will be available to organizations and groups that offer services or activities in the five states: Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

Do you want to shape what the application process looks like? Sign up for the webinar below!


Request for Proposal Instructional Webinar

On this webinar, we review the request for proposals document, application process, proposal narrative and budget instructions, timeline, and responses to frequently asked questions. 

HepConnect State Launches

North Carolina:

North Carolina panel, chaired by Harm Reduction Coalition’s Erica Poellot
Cat DeLauro, North Carolina Urban Survivors Union

West Virginia:

Shannon Hicks of Exchange Union
West Virginia panel, chaired by Harm Reduction Coalition’s Kiefer Paterson


Emma Roberts, Director of Capacity Building Services, launches HepConnect Kentucky
Donald Davis, Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition, panelist HepConnect launch
Community listening session following the launch


Harm Reduction Coalition’s Emma Roberts with State Senator Jim Merritt and Derek Spencer from FOCUS, pictured outside ‘Larry’ Indiana Recovery Alliance’s outreach van
Whitney Meeks, Indiana Recovery Alliance
Harm Reduction Coalition’s Hiawatha Collins
All women panel, chaired by Harm Reduction Coalition’s Mike Selick


Harm Reduction Coalition’s Executive Director, Monique Tula opening HepConnect in Tennessee
Sara Alese, Tennessee Recovery Alliance, shares her story on stigma, syringe access and urgent need to scale up harm reduction services for all that need it in Tennessee.
Harm Reduction Coalition’s ED, Monique Tula with State Senator Jeff Yarbro and Dr. Jill Foster
HepConnect panel chaired by Harm Reduction Coalition’s Executive Director, Monique Tula
Community listening session, facilitated by Harm Reduction Coalition’s Medical Director, Dr. Kim Sue

Jobs with HepConnect

We’re hiring for multiple positions to support the HepConnect initiative that are based in the five states. Please click here to review open positions.

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