A stroll through the history of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) reveals an undisputed truth: for nearly three decades, AFC has been the local leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In its earliest years, the organization united community agencies to support individuals living with HIV/AIDS and raise awareness of the epidemic. By the mid-1990s, it led an effort to double Illinois’ AIDS budget from $3.5 million to $7 million, and it published the city's first-ever AIDS housing plan. The plan resulted in more affordable housing units for people living with HIV. Now, AFC is preparing for its 30th year of advocacy.
Bank of America has been a supporter of AFC for more than 20 years, giving the organization the resources it needs to do what it does best. “It’s remarkable for an AIDS organization to be around for nearly 30 years, expanding from grant making and advocacy to prevention, housing and case management,” said Chad Thompson, vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and member of AFC’s Board of Directors.
Merrill Lynch has managed the foundation’s investment dollars since 2011, ensuring the organization’s longevity, said Marcus Boggs, a financial advisor and leader of the LGBT Financial Services Practice. This support has enabled AFC to assume a local, statewide and national leadership role. Since 1988, AFC has awarded more than $18 million to other organizations that support those living with HIV/AIDS. It also runs the only coordinated case management system in the country. This means that each of its 5,500 clients in greater Chicago has a primary point of contact to help them access needed resources.
The bank’s significant financial contributions through the years provides operating support for AFC’s basic human services, supporting a wide range of programs, said John Peller, interim president and CEO of the foundation. “The bank gives us a lot of flexibility to support our partner organizations and help the case managers best serve their clients,” he added.
The relationship between AFC and Bank of America also extends to employee volunteerism. Employees give their time to help make special events like the AIDS Run and Walk Chicago successful. “Volunteers are a big part of the driving force for any nonprofit,” said Peller. “Having volunteers from Bank of America has been tremendously helpful.”