For many Oregon communities, taking on a challenge as big as cancer can seem daunting. It can be tough to find the resources needed to make effective changes from the ground up. That’s why the Knight Cancer Institute’s Community Partnership Program is taking “give local” to the next level.
The Community Partnership Program works directly with organizations to provide funding and other resources to grow community-academic collaborations addressing a community’s most urgent cancer-related needs. Organizations with projects funded by the program team up with OHSU faculty on a variety of cancer-targeting projects ranging from a needs assessment to growing an existing program.
Funded projects demonstrating the power of community collaboration include a prescription Community Supported Agriculture program to increase consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, a sun-safety education program for elementary school students, creating evidence-based, culturally appropriate cancer education for various audiences and the creation of a health-equity analysis supporting a regional retail licensing policy for tobacco products. The full list of funded projects can be found here.
Community Partnership Program co-directors Jackilen Shannon, Ph.D., R.D. and Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M. shared more about the evolution of the program and what it has achieved for Oregon communities.
Q: What was the need for this program?
JS: Community organizations frequently have the greatest knowledge about the needs within their communities relating to cancer prevention, screening, access to treatment and survivorship. However, local organizations may lack the funding or other resources needed to develop ideas, test out new programs, or evaluate interventions that could translate to sustainable services in the community. That’s where the Community Partnership Program steps in.
Q: What makes this program different from other grant programs? How is this program important to these communities?
KWS: The Community Partnership Program is unique in offering training and technical assistance that are based on best practices in public health, together with funding. The technical assistance provided by OHSU faculty members can mean anything from helping organizations through an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to sharing knowledge they’ve acquired from working with previous research. The goal is for communities to grow both sustainable, effective programs and relationships.
Q: What do you feel are the program’s biggest achievements currently?
JS: We’re very happy that we’ve funded 30 community projects affecting 31 out of 36 Oregon communities in mostly rural areas. To reach that many counties through our grantees is a great achievement we share together. To me, an equally meaningful achievement is that these grants will build off of community-academic collaborations.
Q: At the end of this program, what are the top things you hope to have accomplished?
KWS: At the end of this program, I hope we will have been successful in helping communities establish cancer prevention, screening, and survivorship programs locally throughout the state. Ultimately, we hope these programs will dramatically reduce the burden of cancer throughout the state.
Dr. Kerri Winters-Stone is a researcher and co-leader of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention and Control Program. Her research focus centers on the use of physical activity to prevent and manage chronic disease.
Dr. Jackilen Shannon is a nutritional epidemiologist with a strong track record of investigation in the role of diet and nutrition in carcinogenesis. She joined Oregon Health and Science University in 2000.