ACRIA & Saks Fifth Avenue Host Luncheon to Support LEAP for Girls

ACRIA’s Executive Director Benjamin Bashein, Saks Fifth Avenue SVP & Fashion Director Roopal Patel, and Julia Sherman, author of Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists, hosted an intimate luncheon on May 23, 2017 celebrating ACRIA's Leadership Empowerment and Awareness Program (LEAP) for Girls. Part of ACRIA’s newly launched Love Heals Youth Education Program, LEAP for Girls trains a new generation of community educators and activists in East Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and the Bronx—NYC communities of color experiencing the highest incidence of HIV. LEAP for Girls equips young women by strengthening their leadership abilities—including public speaking, conflict resolution, and decision-making skills—and educating them about self-esteem, HIV prevention, and sexual health. To date, over 650 young women have graduated from LEAP for Girls who have in turn reached nearly 15,000 of their peers through community action projects. Additionally, by supporting LEAP for Girls alumnae as they go off to college—often the first in their family to do so—the program helps young women strengthen their sense of self. ACRIA’s expansion into the important field of youth education began in 2017 with the acquisition of Love Heals: the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education.

The three-course menu focused on seasonal salads will be designed by Julia Sherman, multimedia artist, photographer, blogger and, most recently, author of the newly published cookbook Salad For President: A Cookbook Inspired By Artists (Abrams Books, May 2017) containing more than 75 recipes with contributions and interviews by artists and creative professionals like William Wegman, Tauba Auerbach, Laurie Anderson, and Alice Waters. To learn more visit

To see more images of the event, click here

ACRIA Receives Major 5-Year Grant to Support Sexual Health Education Programs for Youth in New York City

New York, NY (April 12, 2017) – ACRIA, a New York City-based national organization renowned for its research, education and advocacy programs and expertise on HIV and aging, announced today that it is the recipient of a five-year grant, totaling $500,000, from the Keith Haring Foundation to support its sexual health education and leadership development programs benefitting youth in New York City.  The grant, which will provide funding through 2021, allows ACRIA to enhance its HIV and teen pregnancy prevention programs offered to youth, their parents, and other youth allies in schools and community settings located in neighborhoods heavily impacted by HIV across the New York City metropolitan area.

“We are honored to once again partner with the Keith Haring Foundation to further our shared goal of addressing the critical need for comprehensive, age appropriate, and culturally competent sexual health education for young people across the five boroughs,” said Benjamin Bashein, Executive Director of ACRIA. “For nearly a decade, the Foundation has played a major role in strengthening ACRIA’s life-saving AIDS research and education programs.  On behalf of our board of directors, I thank them. We are enormously grateful to be taking this next step forward with their support.” 

"Chief among Keith Haring's stated goals in establishing his foundation was providing financial support to the HIV/AIDS community. We are privileged to work with ACRIA, an organization profoundly committed to improving the lives of those affected by AIDS and HIV. It is our honor to help sustain and expand their long-standing youth education and leadership development programs,” said Julia Gruen, Executive Director of the Keith Haring Foundation.

New York City’s HIV epidemic continues to take a heavy toll on young people. Compared to their peers, Black and Hispanic youth continue to experience disproportionately high rates of HIV infections. In April 2015, the New York State Department of Health released data indicating that together, Black and Hispanic youth in New York City, ages 12 to 24, account for 85% of new HIV diagnoses and 91% of new AIDS diagnoses.  

ACRIA’s targeted work in communities of color across the five boroughs, along with its strategic partnerships with the NYC Department of Health, the NYC Department of Education, and over 700 schools and community groups, has given the organization unique insight into the sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention needs of underserved and under-resourced communities, especially among their youth. Through the organization’s Love Heals Youth Education Program, well over 700,000 youth and thousands of their parents, teachers, community leaders, and other youth allies have been reached through expert facilitated trainings and presentations.

About the Keith Haring Foundation

Established in 1989 by the late artist Keith Haring (1958-1990), the Keith Haring Foundation supports US-based non-profit organizations that provide educational opportunities to underserved youth as well as to organizations that engage in education, prevention and care related to AIDS and HIV. Haring additionally charged his Foundation with maintaining and protecting his artistic legacy. The Foundation maintains a large collection of his art, along with archives that facilitate historical research about the artist and the times and places in which he lived and worked. The Foundation supports arts and educational institutions by funding programs and publications that serve to contextualize and illuminate the artist’s work and philosophy. During the last years of his life, Haring often enlisted his imagery to speak about his own illness and to generate activism and awareness about AIDS. To date, his Foundation has given over $15 million in grants.

For further information about Haring and the Keith Haring Foundation, visit


To The ACRIA Family:

I am pleased to announce that at its most recent meeting, the ACRIA Board of Directors voted unanimously to acquire an organization called Love Heals: The Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education.

We have long admired the work of Love Heals, the largest provider of HIV prevention and sexual education to young people in New York City schools.

The origin story of Love Heals is a tragic and powerful one. Alison Gertz was infected with HIV through a single sexual encounter at age 16 and died in 1992. Love Heals is Ali's legacy, founded by her three best friends.

Love Heals has reached over 630,000 young people through its education and prevention programs. ACRIA is honored and excited to play a role in growing and expanding Ali's legacy. We are confident that our work will be greater than the sum of its parts. With our core competencies, our national and international reach, and our research capacity, we offer Love Heals the opportunity to enhance and expand its work, perhaps even outside of New York City.

ACRIA will be joined by all members of the Love Heals staff and a number of outstanding board members. Everything about this new relationship has felt smart and has moved in good faith and enthusiasm about what we will be able to do together. Strategic, seamless acquisitions are not common in the nonprofit sector; we plan to be a model others can follow.

The work of the epidemic has and will continue to evolve. So too will ACRIA. The addition of Love Heals allows ACRIA to fill gaps in prevention strategies and provide a greater compliment of programs and services to people of all ages with lifesaving HIV prevention and health education.

We look forward to telling you more about the Love Heals program and will be sharing news in the days and weeks to come about new staff, new board members, and our specific plans for the future.


Benjamin Bashein

Executive Director


ACRIA Awarded Generous Grant for Lifesaving HIV Education

We are honored to announce that The Keith Haring Foundation has awarded ACRIA $25,000 in support of our "Living with HIV" workshops. This generous gift will allow our HIV educators to conduct New York City's only regularly scheduled education series for people newly diagnosed with the disease. As the founding supporter of this program, The Keith Haring Foundation has already provided hundreds of New Yorkers with an essential lifeline during a critical and very difficult time in their lives.       

"The Keith Haring Foundation is proud to support ACRIA's critically important and pioneering work to empower individuals to benefit their own health and the public health," said Julia Gruen, the Foundation's Executive Director. "Through education, training and advocacy, ACRIA has been at the forefront of HIV-AIDS organizations moving us toward achievable fast-track treatment and prevention goals. It is a privilege to assist ACRIA in their determined efforts to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS."
Along with monthly "HIV 101" courses such as "How to Choose the Right Doctor for You," "Understanding Your Lab Results," and "Nutrition When You're HIV-positive," our expert educators also provide one-on-one counseling for those in need of more in-depth care. We are very grateful for The Keith Haring Foundation's generous commitment to helping those with HIV not only cope with the disease, but also flourish as they learn how to manage their illness effectively and live a long, healthy life.