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Scholarship Application

AIDSWatch Scholarship Application Instructions

Scholarship applications are due October 11 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT. Before starting the application, please read the AIDSWatch Scholarship instructions below, which detail the application process, scholarship recipient responsibilities, and required documentation to apply. Click on each item below to find the corresponding information.

What is AIDSWatch
What is covered in an AIDSWatch Scholarship?
Scholarship Criteria and Considerations
What do we look for when reviewing scholarship applications?
AIDSWatch Registration for scholarship applicants
Applicant Timeline
Attendance and Expectations
Travel Arrangements
Hotel Arrangements
Incidental Costs
What documents do I need to apply?
Still have questions?

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What is AIDSWatch?
AIDSWatch is the largest annual national constituent-based advocacy event focused on HIV policy in the United States. The event draws hundreds of people living with HIV and their allies to Washington, DC for two days to educate Members of Congress and their staff about HIV. Participants will receive training on current science, legislative priorities, and how to conduct effective meetings with their elected representatives.

What is covered in an AIDSWatch Scholarship?
Scholarships available for AIDSWatch: A total of 50 hotel, travel, and registration scholarships will be issued through this process. Travel accommodations will include two nights (Sunday, March 29 and Monday, March 30) at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia along with airfare, train, or mileage reimbursement for transportation. Hotel rooms will be shared (two scholarship recipients in a double room) and participants will be responsible for all incidental costs at hotel, ground transport, and meals outside of AIDSWatch plenary meals (breakfast and lunch on March 30).

Scholarship Criteria and Considerations
  • Involvement of People Living with HIV: A minimum of 50% of scholarships are designated for people living with HIV.
  • Geographic Diversity: Attendees from across the United States are encouraged to apply. Applicants must live 90 miles or more from Washington, DC to be considered for a travel and hotel scholarship. Applications sent from individuals living outside of the United States will not be considered.
  • Prior Scholarship awards:
    • Applicants who have previously been awarded scholarships for AIDSWatch, but did not attend all sessions of AIDSWatch are ineligible for scholarships in 2021.
    • Applicants who have NOT received AIDSWatch scholarships in the past two years will receive higher priority for AIDSWatch scholarship.

What do we look for when reviewing scholarship applications?

Successful scholarship applicants are likely to show us the following:
  • Evidence that the applicant has a track record of being active in their community. It doesn’t have to be a long track record. Newbies are totally welcome! We just want to see that you are involved or getting involved in your local HIV community.
  • Evidence that the applicant is committed to doing something in their home communities with the skills they gain at AIDSWatch. We are building a movement of leaders, and a lot of this advocacy needs to happen on the ground after you leave DC. These scholarship opportunities are few, so we are looking for folks who are likely to share this knowledge and these resources with others in their community when they go back home.
  • A track record of following through on commitments. We are investing in your leadership and we will be scheduling times for you to meet with Members of Congress, along with your local delegation. We want to know that you show up when you say you will and that you do what you commit to doing.

Registration for Scholarship Applicants and Recipients

Applicants selected to receive a scholarship will be contacted to register for AIDSWatch and to book travel & hotel. Registration will open September 4, 2019. Scholarship applicants are encouraged to wait to hear from the AIDSWatch team about application outcomes before registering. The registration fee schedule is as follows:
  • Regular: September 3, 2019 – February 28, 2020 - $40.00
  • Late: February 29 – March 13, 2020 - $75.00

If this fee presents a challenge, special arrangements can be made to waive the fee by contacting

Applicant Timeline:
October 11, 2019 at 8 PM ET/ 5PM PT:Applications Due
End of January 2020:
Awardees Selected & Notified
March 30-31, 2020:

Attendance and Expectations:
Scholarship recipients are REQUIRED to fully participate in all AIDSWatch activities including:
  • Pre-conference training webinar participation
  • Training/Orientation: Monday, March 30 – Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel 8:30am to 1pm
  • Congressional Meetings: Meetings with Congressional offices will be scheduled to occur on March 31. Most attendees will conduct meetings in small teams and will have at least 3 to 5 half-hour meetings scheduled (two Senate, and 1 to 3 House of Representatives). Meetings will be scheduled and confirmed until the day of AIDSWatch visits.
  • Meeting Follow-Up: Scholarship recipients will be asked to fully complete and submit Congressional meeting feedback forms for each meeting they attend, listing who they met with and their contact info, describing how the meeting went and which topics were covered as well as any commitments made by the staffer or follow up information to be sent to the office. Forms will be provided at AIDSWatch.
  • Post AIDSWatch engagement throughout the year, including participation in at least one AIDSWatch-related webinar.

Scholarship recipients who successfully fulfill the requirements listed above will be eligible to apply for AIDSWatch 2021 scholarships. However, recipients who do not fulfill these requirements will not be considered for scholarships in 2021.

Travel Arrangements

Travel arrangements will be made directly by the AIDSWatch organizing team. Travel will be booked to guarantee arrival in Washington, DC no later than 5pm on Sunday, March 29, and departures will be booked for 6pm or later on Tuesday, March 31 to ensure that all participants can complete Hill visits. Any costs incurred due to non-weather-related modifications to ticketed air/rail travel are the sole responsibility of the scholarship recipient. In the event of weather-related travel disruptions, scholarship recipients are required to communicate directly with the appropriate carrier on which they are ticketed.

Hotel Arrangements

Recipients will receive two nights covered at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel (900 S Orme St, Arlington, VA 22204), directly paid by the AIDSWatch organizers to the hotel – Sunday, March 29 & Monday, March 30, 2020. Recipients should expect to share a room with another scholarship recipient. Hotel reservations will be made by AIDSWatch organizers.

Incidental Costs

Scholarships cover hotel rooms and travel only – any meals (outside of breakfast and lunch on March 30) or incidental costs incurred by participants will be the responsibility of scholarship recipients. Scholarship recipients are responsible for their own local ground transportation to and from the hotel and meetings. Scholarships are non-transferrable.

What documents do I need to apply?

Please have your Reference Letter and Short Essays saved as Word or PDF files, ready to upload when you complete the application:

  • Reference Letter (Letter of Support)
    Due to considerable resources invested in scholarships, and to ensure all scholarships get utilized to full potential, organizers require scholarship applicants to provide a letter of reference that can speak to the applicant’s engagement in the field, reliability and accountability.

    References may be provided by allied staff at local agencies, case managers, or other colleagues. The letter of support should clearly identify the reference’s name, full contact information, organizational affiliation, how the individual has known the scholarship applicant, in what capacity, and for how long. The reference letter should detail their knowledge of the applicant’s advocacy, community organizing or other participation at local levels. The letter should be no more than one page.

  • Short Essays
    Attach brief responses to the questions below. Limit your response to one-page total. We want to specifically hear what you expect to get out of AIDSWatch and what you will do with the experience when you go home, including how you plan on sharing your policy training and AIDSWatch experience with other advocates. Successful scholarship applicants will answer all the questions below clearly and concisely.
    • Provide a brief (1 paragraph) statement summarizing your experience and interests related to HIV If you are living with HIV, how did this impact your life? How long have you lived with it? What has changed? Have you found another community of people living with HIV? If you are not living with HIV, how have you been an effective ally? Be specific.
    • Provide a brief (1 paragraph) statement describing your experience in HIV advocacy. What issues are you passionate about? What is the largest concern in your state? What issues do you want to know more about? Do you have any plans to participate in HIV advocacy other than AIDSWatch?
    • Provide a brief (1 paragraph) statement explaining how you plan to mobilize others to become advocates or allies after your AIDSWatch experience. If you received a scholarship to AIDSWatch previously, tell us the year(s) and what you have done to build on those experiences. If you have participated in other HIV lobby days, please include that information as well.
    • Provide a brief (1 paragraph) statement telling us anything else you would like to share about your experience that will help us understand who you are and why you should be selected for an AIDSWatch scholarship. (While all people are encouraged to apply, the AIDSWatch scholarship process is designed to support new and emerging advocates, especially those from communities that are historically under-represented in U.S. HIV policy and advocacy. This includes people of color, lower-income people, young people, sex workers, residents of rural areas, and people who use drugs.)

Still have questions about AIDSWatch Scholarships?

Our staff is available to answer any questions. You can reach us by emailing

Start the AIDSWatch Scholarship Application!

Once you have read the above information and have your reference letter and short essays saved as Word or PDF files, you are ready to apply! Click here to start the online application.

Don't have the ability to apply online? Download the application here and fax full application and supporting documents to 202-408-1818 or email

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