HRCF Announces ACTIVATE Professional Development Program for Trans & Non-Binary Black, Latinx People

by Madeleine Roberts

The ACTIVATE and ELEVATE fellowship programs are designed to help advance the leadership skills of Black and Latinx transgender people.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation announced the first year of ACTIVATE, a fellowship program that is aimed at advancing the professional development of trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming Black, Latinx people or people of color. Today the HRC Foundation also launched the second year of ELEVATE, a fellowship program designed to help advance the leadership skills of Black and Latinx transgender women.

“I could not be more excited to create and lead the inaugural year of the ACTIVATE fellowship program,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. “HRC’s deepening engagement with the transgender and non-binary community, especially transgender people of color, is essential, and could not be more important than during this time when we are seeing our communities be especially impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis. In addition, this country is currently facing an epidemic of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people, especially Black transgender women. In the midst of this crisis, lifting up the voices of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people of color and helping them develop the tools to advance their powerful work has never been more critical.”

“HRC is proud to be beginning another year of the ELEVATE program and to be starting the first year of the ACTIVATE program,” said HRC Foundation’s Director of HIV & Health Equity J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall. “Together, these programs provide critical training and build leadership skills for Latinx, Black and other POC transgender and non-binary people. These programs, especially ELEVATE, are centered on building skills around public health, a field that is especially important during the COVID-19 health crisis. The programs will use lessons learned from the HIV epidemic to address the current challenges presented by COVID-19, with the goal of improving the health outcomes of trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.”

After fellows for each program are selected, a virtual training will be held August 28-29, 2020. The fellowships for each program will last one year. Those interested in learning more and applying for ELEVATE can do so here, and in ACTIVATE can do so here.

First announced in 2019, when HRC also announced an expansion of its work dedicated to justice for the transgender community, the inaugural year of the ACTIVATE fellowship builds on the work that was begun in 2019 with the ELEVATE program. ACTIVATE is a professional development program designed for POC transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people. The program seeks to provide an in-depth and comprehensive training curriculum that addresses the core skills needed to achieve and thrive in leadership roles in the LGBTQ non-profit sector.

The ELEVATE Fellowship advances the leadership of Black and Latinx transgender women in the South by effectively increasing their capacity to navigate and improve public health systems. This program, rooted in skills-building and professional and leadership development, consists of one intensive digital training and three interactive webinars that lead to an increase in competencies and improving health outcomes among Black and Latinx transgender women.

While the first training for ELEVATE was held in-person at HRC’s Washington, D.C. headquarters in 2019, due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, the trainings for both ELEVATE and ACTIVATE will be held virtually this year. For a full list of HRC’s COVID-19 resources, please visit

For more information on ELEVATE: A Fellowship Advancing Public Health Leadership for Transgender Women of Color, please visit

For more information on ACTIVATE: Building the Capacity of Leaders on the Frontlines, please visit