In 1993, Imani Unidad was created as a coalition of concerned community individuals who came together to address the emerging need for awareness and knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS in the African American community.
The members began by educating themselves, with two members becoming American Red Cross certified HIV instructor trainers and one became a trainer in the Centers for Disease Control HIV prevention "Programs That Work.” In turn they trained other members of the group in the various programs. The group then began to provide educational sessions throughout the community in churches, neighborhood partnership centers, and recreational facilities while partnering with local AIDS service organizations, county and state health departments and school corporations.
Imani Unidad has continued these efforts with a significant emphasis on the prevention of HIV infection which includes other STDs and substance misuse because of the strong linkage to these factors. The organization hosted monthly meetings open to the community and began offering training opportunities, educational workshops, conferences and capacity building assistance to other service providers and community members who desired to meaningfully engage in effective prevention efforts.
The foundational service provision of Imani Unidad continues to be individual and group level counseling and education. In our service provision, we chose to take a mental health approach to our prevention efforts with the knowledge that our beliefs, feelings, and thoughts determine our behaviors while also being a primary determinant in how we treat one another. So to this day, we work diligently to create an environment conducive to learning, promote honest and respectful dialogue, provide fact based knowledge and adhere to the basic principles of dignity and respect for all.
In 2011 when Goodwill began an endeavor to provide employment opportunities to black males returning from incarceration, Imani Unidad was contracted to support this effort by recruiting and helping to retain individuals. The relationship was so successful that Imani continued the partnership once they implemented the Second Chance and Beyond Jobs programs. While the Goodwill focused on the external challenges of employment, education and job skills, Imani provided the means by which individuals could work on their interpersonal needs related to sexual health, relationships, parenting, and social behaviors. The number one reason individuals return to prison is relationship issues with families and significant others. When the city of South Bend launched the group violence intervention in 2014, it was just natural that Imani be involved. Hence the establishment of the Peer-to-Peer intervention. P2P is holistic in its approach to addressing the individualized needs of group participants.