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New Massey grant program to support community-led health initiatives

Dec 07, 2021

seedlings and saplings

In 2022, VCU Massey Cancer Center will invest in community-led initiatives that aim to improve the health outcomes for Virginians.

The new Massey Cancer Center Community Grant Program will help community partners expand programs focused on the promotion of health, health equity, person-centered care across the cancer continuum (from prevention through survivorship) and reducing suffering from cancer.

Massey SEED grants comprise level one of the program. The cancer center announced a Request for Applications (RFA) on December 7, 2021.

Vanessa Sheppard, Ph.D., associate director of community outreach engagement and health disparities at Massey, explained the SEED grants and their umbrella program are indicative of the cancer center’s mission to create a 21st century community-to-bench model for others to adopt.

“We aim to learn more from our community partners and support their priorities with additional resources,” noted Sheppard, who is also a professor in the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Health Behavior and Policy. “This investment will allow us to move beyond externally funded grant partnerships that are often episodic.”

The program is part of an effort to foster organizational collaboration across Massey’s catchment area, defined as the 66 contiguous localities in central, eastern and southern Virginia served by the cancer center.

"If we truly want to change the trajectory of health inequities and cancer outcomes for all Virginians, as is our mission at Massey, we need to continually expand our ability to work collaboratively with community organizations to achieve this shared goal,” said Debbie Chatman Bryant, DNP, RN, FAAN, executive director of Operations, Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) at Massey. “Our community grant program will allow us to “seed” funds to organizations closely linked to the communities and individual people we collectively serve.”

Organizations must meet the following criteria for SEED grants eligibility:

  • Organizations in the state of Virginia recognized by the IRS as a non-profit, being either a government agency, or recognized house of worship.
  • Organizations in the state of Virginia exempt from income tax with a 501(c)(3) public charity designation including:
    • Community and faith-based organizations
    • Advocacy groups
    • Coalitions
    • Neighborhood associations
    • Service providers

“Great community engaged work requires some key ingredients: mutual benefit, reciprocity, and agency,” said Natalie Pennywell, certified health educator and Massey Community Cabinet member. “As someone who's been privileged enough to work for years at the community level to address issues of equity and access in healthcare, the approach the new Massey Cancer Center Community Grant Program is taking to invest in organizations that know and are committed to the communities they serve without fail, undoubtedly amplifies all three of these ingredients in a way that will foster creative solutions that make a positive impact for generations to come across the Commonwealth of Virginia. I can only hope every organization that has the will to serve, will find a way to also apply.”

The deadline for qualifying organizations to apply for Massey SEED grants is Thursday, January 13, 2022. Seven awards will then be funded in the amount of $5,000 per recipient on February 3, 2022.

Awards for the Massey SEED grants will be competitive. Guidelines concerning the criteria and process can be found within the RFA.

Written by: Amy Lacey

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