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Community Engagement & Health Equity

Massey awards grants to seven community-led health initiatives

Feb 22, 2022

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This year, VCU Massey Cancer Center is investing in community-led initiatives that aim to improve the health outcomes for Virginians.

On Feb. 22, Massey announced it awarded $5,000 from the new Massey Cancer Center Community Grant Program to each of the following seven organizations:

  • World U.P. Foundation, Richmond
    • The funding will help to establish a direct delivery model system for its Mobile Produce Pantry to reach more clients living in and around Richmond’s food deserts and increase the amount of food distributed.
  • Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, Richmond
    • The funding will create a new Resource Coordinator position focusing on the regions with high incidence, mortality and/or health disparities by providing informed referrals to various assistance programs and complementing the work of nurse navigators.
  • Vance Street Missionary Baptist Church, Danville
    • The funding will help to educate the community about cervical and colorectal cancer through a partnership with Piedmont Access to Health Services, Inc. (PATHS), a nonprofit providing medical and dental care on a sliding payment scale.
  • Saving Pennies 4 A Cure / Trials of Color, Petersburg
    • The funding will establish the Teach One Reach One Project to educate the minority and underserved residents of Petersburg about symptoms, benefits of screening and lifestyle changes they can make to prevent colon cancer.
  • Northern Neck Middlesex Free Health Clinic, Kilmarnock
    • The funding will establish the Are You At Risk program, which includes a packet containing oral cancer education materials, a Dental Clinic brochure, Medicaid dental benefits information, a Dental Clinic appointment voucher for a free visit and free oral cancer screenings on particular dates.
  • Fifth Baptist Church, Richmond
    • The funding will support a project raising awareness about the effects of smoking and secondhand smoke through a series of virtual workshops presented to people ages 15 and up throughout Greater Richmond.
  • Ebenezer Baptist Church, Richmond
    • The funding will establish the Ebenezer Cancer Caregivers Project to reduce emotional and mental health cancer burdens by creating a weekly cancer caregivers support group and educational programs on topics across the cancer care continuum.

“We hope these grants will help support a robust infrastructure for our partners and enhance bi-directional communication between the Massey Cancer Center team and community stakeholders,” said Vanessa Sheppard, Ph.D., associate director of community outreach engagement and health disparities at Massey and professor and Theresa A. Thomas Memorial Chair in Cancer Prevention and Control in the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Health Behavior and Policy.

The SEED grants are the first phase of the Massey Cancer Center Community Grant Program. They are indicative of the cancer center’s mission to create a 21st century community-to-bench model for others to adopt.

“Too often a program ends when the grant term ends, but this program is part of our efforts to reimagine a cancer center’s role in the community,” said Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman chair in Oncology at Massey and senior associate dean of Cancer Innovation at the VCU School of Medicine. “We are providing resources to support each partner’s priorities and fostering organizational collaboration in the regions Massey serves.”

Massey’s catchment area includes 66 contiguous localities in central, eastern and southern Virginia. They are home to approximately 4 million racially, ethnically, geographically and socioeconomically diverse individuals; about 41% of residents identify as racial/ethnic minorities and 52% identify as living in rural areas.

The cancer center announced a Request for Applications (RFA) on December 7, 2021 with a January 13, 2022 deadline; Fourteen organizations from across Massey’s catchment area submitted applications. Guidelines concerning the criteria and process can be found within the RFA.

Written by: Amy Lacey

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