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.”
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.
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