New grants help community organizations overcome health disparities across Washington

Community Grant Program supports 11 projects aimed at cancer prevention, screening and more among marginalized groups
Two people conversing, one with long black hair and a blue shirt who is facing the camera, and the other with a head wrap and a black shirt facing away
Kathy Briant (right), assistant director of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, or OCOE, works with Bridgette Hempstead during the OCOE's Community Grant Writing Workshop on Jan. 13, 2020, at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Ensuring good health for all is a tall order, and organizations within marginalized communities are working hard to meet the challenge. Now, a new round of grant funding is accelerating the progress of 11 of these organizations across Washington that are working to keep all residents healthy.

The funding comes from the Community Grant Program, operated by the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, or OCOE, part of the Fred Hutch/University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Cancer Consortium. The program aims to help affected communities overcome significant health inequities by helping organizations implement projects that address a need the community has identified and by maintaining collaboration between partners, OCOE staff said. It has made grants annually since 2014.

“The Community Grant Program is an opportunity for our institution to use an equitable and bidirectional approach to address the cancer burden in our state,” said Kathy Briant, the assistant director of the OCOE. “It provides an opportunity for our faculty and staff to build relationships with community partners. Nurturing these partnerships can inform our cancer research and may also lead to larger research collaborations with community involvement.”

Through the program, OCOE staff provide training and education to community organizations that are working in outreach education and research activities already, but do not yet have the know-how to test hypotheses or assess the effectiveness of their activities. In addition to training in research methods and funding ($2,500-$10,000) provided to awardees, the program also provides awardees with technical assistance to implement their projects.

"While we were able to provide this opportunity to organizations throughout the state last year, this year we had significantly increased participation from organizations in eastern and central Washington, which shows the power of time in relationship- and awareness-building across the state," said Hallie Pritchett, community health education manager with OCOE, who oversaw the development of the program's request for applications, put on the grant workshop and managed the grant review process. 

"The community partners who apply for these grants are experts at creating impact for their communities with limited resources. In these cases, the impact of this additional funding exponentially increases the sustainable impact toward health equity and access to care in the communities served," she said.

Thanks to additional funding, the program was able to make more grants this year than usual, and the latest grantees are spread around the state of Washington. As of January 2022, the entire state is now the “catchment area” for the Cancer Consortium: the geographic area whose population is included in the Consortium’s regional research, engagement and outreach.

This year’s grantees include tribal, religious and professional organizations; organizations that serve particular marginalized groups; and those that focus on people facing specific illnesses, such as cancer or mental illness.

“Historically, most applicants have been from the I-5 [Interstate 5] corridor,” Briant said. “Our hope is that grantees will be able to use their grant funds to develop community-driven programming that meets unmet needs, or test solutions to address health inequities among the populations and communities they serve across a larger geographic area than we have in the past.”  

A person wearing a surgical mask speaks at a podium with a project slide in the background
Hallie Pritchett, community health education manager with the OCOE, speaks during the Pathways to Equity Symposium, May 19, 2022, at Fred Hutch. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service
The 2022 grantees and funded programs are:
  • Cancer Pathways: “Project CHAMP (Cultivating HPV Awareness and Mobilizing for Prevention).”
    Through Project CHAMP, Cancer Pathways will partner with at least three schools in rural counties to implement school-based HPV prevention and vaccination campaigns. The ultimate goal is to increase HPV awareness and vaccination rates in these schools.
  • Confluence Health: “Improving North Central Washington Hispanic/Latinx Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates: Utilizing Health Educators Within and Beyond the Clinic Walls.”
    With their funding, Confluence Health is developing a lay health educator model for use in both the clinic and in the community. The organization is building on the success of other groups who have engaged patients with a conversational method of conveying the importance of colorectal cancer screening, aiming to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among Hispanics in the organization's community.
  • Fanikia Foundation: “Providing access to cancer care for African immigrants.”
    The foundation will work in King County (where Seattle is located) and surrounding counties to bridge the gap between early detection of cancer in East Africa immigrants and their access to cancer-related services and the health system.
  • Islamic Center of Tri-Cities: “Knowledge is Power” refugee health education program.
    The ICTC will develop and implement a community-based health education program that the organization hopes will improve the identified health education needs of resettled refugees and continue sustainably after the funding period.
  • Mission Africa: “African Women Health Advocacy Project.”
    The project aims to increase prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancers. The organization will work with female community leaders to create culturally specific messages in local languages for African women and their families in the Puget Sound from a range of countries of origin to promote women’s health, with a focus on education, early detection, treatment and support strategies for breast and ovarian cancers.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Seattle: “Seattle’s Mental Health Referral and Support Helpline.”
    With this funding, NAMI Seattle will serve more, and more diverse, people with its resource referral helpline, which provides vital connection to resources for those affected by mental illness. 
  • New Life Community Development Agency, Marvin Williams Recreation Center: “Engaging historically disadvantaged communities to improve breast cancer screening.”
    In the Olympic Peninsula's Kitsap County, the recreation center will host and assess a comprehensive community health fair targeting cancer prevention behaviors (nutrition, physical activity, cancer screening) with a focus on breast cancer.
  • South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency: “Out in the Garden Project” with Squaxin Island Tribe.
    The agency will provide and promote screening resources to American Indian/Alaska Native cancer survivors and promote prevention among tribal members through cooking classes, “day out in the garden” physical fitness activities and a youth education workshop hosted by Squaxin Garden.
  • Spectrum Center Spokane: “Gender Affirming Products Program.”
    The center will provide financial assistance to transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals to assist them in obtaining affirming products, clothing, gear and/or legal name changes.
  • Tacoma Urban League: “Sistah Friends: A Mammogram Screening Outreach Program.”
    This program, which began in 2017, is designed to support Black/African American women over the age of 40 in the Tacoma-Pierce County area to obtain screening mammograms with the aim to improve breast cancer outcomes in the region.
  • Washington State Public Health Association: “Orienting Public Health Professionals to Racism as a Public Health Crisis.”
    Through this project, the WSPHA will educate public health professionals working in the state about racism as a public health crisis so they can help to dismantle structural racism and promote racial equity and inclusion.

Community organizations that are interested in learning more about how to participate in this program can visit the OCOE’s Community Grant Program website.

In April 2022, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance became Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, an independent, nonprofit organization that also serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program.

Read more about Fred Hutch achievements and accolades.

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