Dana-Farber awarding $4 million to improve community health through increased access to services in Greater Boston

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has released the first round of funding for its Access to Services awards, aimed at ensuring all residents, particularly those at higher risk for developing cancer and other chronic conditions, have access to coordinated and equitable health and support services. Through this funding opportunity, a total of $4 million will be distributed to community organizations in Greater Boston over the next four years as part of the Institute’s Determination of Need (DoN) Community Health Initiative (CHI) process linked to Dana-Farber’s new facility in Chestnut Hill. Twelve nonprofit organizations have been awarded an Access to Services grant to support long-lasting community health improvement or to boost linkages to existing health and support services in the region.

“Funding these innovative projects in Greater Boston is consistent with our mission, as Dana-Farber seeks to address the root causes of cancer and other chronic conditions, while helping to advance health equity,” said Magnolia Contreras, Vice President of Community Health at Dana-Farber. “By partnering with local community organizations and working upstream together, we will increase access to services and create the conditions that promote health for everyone.”

In May 2021, Dana-Farber released an Access to Services Request for Proposals, inviting community-based organizations to submit applications for funding for projects that improve health and support services.  The process was guided and informed by an Allocations Committee convened by Dana-Farber which provided extensive feedback to advise in the development of the Request for Proposals. A subsequent Review Committee evaluated the applications and made recommendations on which organizations to award the funding.

The Access to Services grants have been awarded in two tracks. One track supports initiatives that create and sustain long-lasting community health improvement while the other funds efforts to improve linkages to health and support services, including prevention and chronic care services.

The grant recipients are:

System-Level Grants

  • Alternatives for Community and Environment and Massachusetts Public Health Association: Will implement a multi-pronged approach to advocate for city and state policy changes to improve air quality in communities of color in Boston and across Massachusetts and ultimately reduce the incidence and severity of lung cancer, asthma, and other negative health outcomes.
  • FamilyAid Boston: Will spearhead a four-year, multi-pronged systems mapping initiative to develop effective, coordinated systems for children and families facing homelessness and ultimately improve health outcomes for Boston’s most vulnerable children and families.
  • GreenRoots: Will monitor and analyze air quality data using newly installed air quality monitoring equipment, make findings readily accessible to community residents and develop innovative strategies to reduce air pollution, with a focus on addressing inequities in Chelsea and East Boston where air quality is among the worst in the state.
  • Project Bread: Will launch a comprehensive evaluation of nutrition and food access supports to determine the best combination of services to improve health outcomes among medically complex patients facing food insecurity, and ultimately advocate for policy changes to improve reimbursement for food insecurity interventions. 

Community-Clinical Linkages Grants:

  • Allston Brighton Health Collaborative: Will hire a part-time Food Access Coordinator to support the operations of three new food access points in the Allston Brighton neighborhood, including Fair Foods in North Allston, Fresh Truck in Oak Square, and its own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) participants in Aberdeen.
  • Brookview House: Will launch a project to actively engage homeless and at-risk Black and Latinx mothers and youth in implementing culturally responsive, community-driven awareness and prevention initiatives. The organization seeks to destigmatize cancer and cancer treatment in Black and Latinx communities experiencing or at risk of homelessness by training mothers and youth as peer leaders to guide, facilitate, and influence attitudes and behaviors.
  • Team Maureen: Will partner with Navegación de Pacientes Internacional (NPI) to train Community Education Leaders in Lawrence and Lowell using a patient navigator-based model, educating community members about the disease burden of human papillomavirus (HPV) and reducing fear and confusion around screening, HPV vaccination, navigating the health system, and the importance of follow-up.  
  • Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción: Will enhance its bilingual, culturally responsive team to provide comprehensive services to address the social determinants of health and enable access to necessary services for residents facing challenges associated with chronic diseases such as cancer.
  • Charles River Community Health Center: Will provide comprehensive health education and cancer prevention efforts designed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Enhance Asian Community on Health: Will mobilize the Health Empowerment Leverage Program to Promote Chronic Disease Prevention (HELP-PCP), a community-based initiative that improves health and wellness by offering free evidence-based educational programs and interventions that assist individuals with chronic disease and tobacco use.
  • Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center: Will enhance its Comunidad en Acción program to provide participants with healthy cooking classes and senior-friendly tablet devices to enable access to telehealth appointments and prevention care to better manage their health goals. 
  • Sociedad Latina: Will implement group and community level interventions targeting Latinx and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) youth at risk of contracting HPV.

This funding initiative is managed by Dana-Farber’s Community Benefits Office, which leads several community programs for medically underserved Boston residents focused on eliminating disparities in breast, skin, lung, and HPV-related cancers.  In addition to the Access to Services grants that have been awarded, Dana-Farber has also committed approximately $1 million dollars to the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund II to address housing needs in Greater Boston. These innovative new projects build on Dana-Farber’s continuing work to invest in the health and wellbeing of the communities it serves.

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Inclusion, Diversity & Equity

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