Health Systems Initiatives

composite image showing picture of a mom and her daughter, a picture of an African American couple and a picture showing a group of teen hands

Addressing Disparities and Promoting Health Equity

Cancer is a disease that can affect anyone, but it does not affect everyone equally. Statistics show that some minority populations and people who lack health insurance are more likely to develop cancer – and die from it – than the general U.S. population. For those affected by this unequal burden of cancer, getting potentially lifesaving screening tests can be difficult, if not impossible.

This is the motivation behind the American Cancer Society’s Health Systems Initiatives – address the unequal burden of cancer by reaching individuals in underserved communities in collaboration with community partners. Together, we strive to promote health equity and ensure equal access to cancer education and screenings for all individuals.

Building Health Systems Capacity

The American Cancer Society provides various resources aimed to build capacity that is necessary to successfully promote health equity across the nation.

CHANGE Program: The American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) Grant Program builds community and system capacity to promote health equity, access and navigation to screening resources within underserved communities.

CHANGE grants serve as a catalyst for partners to implement and sustain interventions to effectively engage and mobilize patients; and implement systems and policies that are essential to increasing access to timely cancer screenings.

The Society has awarded 635 grants since 2011 and grant recipients are making amazing impact! Our grant recipients represent community health centers, community-based organizations, academic medical centers, breast and cervical cancer early detection programs, Indian Health Service health centers and faith-based organizations.

Health Equity Pipeline: In collaboration with Gates Millennium Scholars Program, the American Cancer Society works to build a pipeline of health equity professionals who will serve as future leaders in the fight against cancer disparities. As part of this collaboration, the Society offers health equity related capstone opportunities for select scholars who are pursuing masters or doctorate level degrees in public health.

Collaborators in the Fight against Cancer

The fight against cancer requires that we harness the power of partnership! Our corporate partners provide funding that is essential to the Society’s ability to provide culturally relevant programs and resources, and our community partners are key in reaching populations who need us most.

Corporate Partners: Thank you to our past and present corporate partners for their investment in the fight again cancer!

Community Health Workers: Community Health Workers play a vital role in educating and empowering the community to get screened for cancer. Meet community partners in Virginia and Minnesota and learn about their commitment to saving lives from cancer.

Social/Civic Organizations: The Society is excited to launch a new initiative in partnership with social and civic organizations to include The Links, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Beginning in fall of 2015, a text messaging initiative will be launched to provide education and encouragement for individuals to speak with their health care providers about the cancer screenings that are right for them.

Faith-Based Organizations: The Society partners with The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and the African Methodist Episcopal Church to implement Partnering for Life, a program that works directly with African American church leaders to address the burden of cancer in the community through awareness and educational activities. Partnering for Life takes a holistic approach that engages the mind, body, and spirit in the fight against cancer.

Making an Impact

The success of our Health Systems Initiatives is measured by increases in access to screening, impact to individuals, and accomplishments related to the implementation of system policies and practices. Our success may also be measured by the ability to collaborate with corporate and community partners, and offer culturally relevant materials, trainings and other resources.

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This website was supported/funded by Cooperative Agreement 5U50DP001863-04. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.