Everyone deserves fair and just access to the medical care they need. But what does it take to translate this well-intentioned value statement into reality for Washingtonians? The organizations funded this year through the Community Grants Program, embody the answer to this critical question. Each received a small grant up to $15,000 to develop and implement an innovative project that addresses a significant health inequity within the communities they serve.
“While in the grand scheme the Community Grants Program is relatively small, it’s a vital way for Fred Hutch to help equip organizations to do important work for the communities they know best,” said Liz Nelson, community health education manager for the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, or OCOE, which operates the grant program. The OCOE is part of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center/University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Cancer Consortium.
“The breadth of projects supported by this year’s grants is inspiring,” said Nelson. “It’s also exciting to see a couple of grantees who are expanding on projects that were funded last year. The grant program is not only kickstarting important work but helping these projects grow and develop.”
One-year grants are available to community-based organizations, non-profits, 501(c)3 groups and tribes that provide services in Washington or serve Washington residents. The goal is to improve social determinants of health among underrepresented people. Recipients must have experience working with or in underserved communities, such as those experiencing inequities related to race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, gender, sexual identity, geography, income, education or other factors.
“One entity cannot do this health equity work alone. We all bring different strengths and resources to this work. The organizations are the experts in working within their communities to improve health equity. The Cancer Consortium brings financial resources to support the work. Our role as OCOE is to come alongside these organizations, support their project plans and ask, ‘How can we be a resource for you?’” said Nelson.
“Likewise, the grant program provides opportunities for us to learn from and support diverse communities throughout the state and understand how we can best work together. It is part of the bidirectional relationship building that is a foundation of our work with partners across Washington.”
More than simply providing funds, the grant program is designed to enhance each organization’s capacity to plan, develop, implement and evaluate culturally appropriate, evidence-informed projects tailored to the specific needs and expectations of their communities.
During the application process, organizations have the option to request an academic mentor from the Cancer Consortium to help form their research question, adapt an evidence-based intervention or design a data-driven evaluation plan. This bidirectional process helps build community and academic relationships that may further their success as well as that of the consortium. Those who receive grants are matched with a community health educator from the OCOE to support their project, answer questions and check in at key points throughout the project year.
The Community Grants Program has awarded funding annually since 2014. In 2023, the OCOE, the Community Benefit Program and the National Cancer Institute–funded U54 New Mexico State University-Fred Hutch Partnership for the Advancement of Cancer Research combined their small-grants programs, allowing for an increase in the maximum grant amount from $10,000 to $15,000.
This year’s grantees and funded projects are:
Community organizations that are interested in learning more about how to participate in this program can visit the OCOE’s Community Grants Program website.