Two organizations that serve people with HIV and do public advocacy on health issues of gay, lesbian and other groups announced Tuesday that they will merge.
The move will combine the Minnesota AIDS Project, founded in 1983, and the Rainbow Health Initiative, a group started in 2001 that’s best known for conducting a health survey of the LGBT population.
The name of the new organization has yet to be determined, but the merger has been approved by the boards of both organizations and will take effect in early 2018. Leaders of the two organizations say they are not just joining forces but plan to expand their reach.
“It wasn’t just about blending our two organizations and merging the work that we do; it was also about doing additional work,” said Joann Usher, executive director of Rainbow Health.
One project they’re pursuing is opening a mental health clinic dedicated to those with HIV or those who identify as LGBT, queer, questioning, intersex or asexual.
“There are not sufficient mental health providers available to fully serve the LGBTQ and HIV communities,” said Usher. “We knew that there was a significant need.” The clinic will be staffed with two to three providers and as many as eight graduate interns, Usher said.
Linda Ewing, executive director at the Minnesota AIDS Project, will take on the same role for the new organization. Usher will become vice president for external relations.
The two nonprofits began discussions about 18 months ago as part of a search by both organizations to seek out strategic partnerships. Usher said that a larger, more diverse organization might have access to additional funding, including research grants and national funders, that neither organization could have tapped alone.
Because there is very little overlap between the two groups, staff layoffs are not expected. Rainbow Health employs five people, while the Minnesota AIDS Project has 55 employees. Together, they will have annual revenue of $5.5 million.