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The Ford Family Foundation awards $5 million grant to advance the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s outreach to rural Oregonians

The foundation’s grant will establish a statewide cancer prevention and outreach network, expand Oregonians’ access to clinical trials of promising cancer therapies, and provide more temporary housing options for out-of-town OHSU patients, families

The Ford Family Foundation has made a significant grant — $5 million — to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to expand delivery of prevention and care expertise to rural Oregonians. The grant will also contribute to OHSU’s goal of raising $500 million in two years as part of the $1 billion Knight Cancer Challenge campaign.

The Ford Family Foundation grant will provide $2.5 million in support for each of two initiatives to serve rural communities throughout Oregon. The first is the creation of a statewide cancer prevention and outreach network that will provide community health care organizations with access to OHSU Knight Cancer Institute experts in cancer prevention, education, diagnostics, treatment and survivorship, as well as offer support in directing patients to appropriate clinical trials.

Given this network is the first of its kind in Oregon, The Ford Family Foundation grant will cover start-up costs to develop and implement the program – including gathering information about communities’ unique health care needs – which will help make the project affordably scalable.

The second initiative will assist patients who must travel to OHSU for care, and need affordable, temporary accommodations conveniently located near OHSU clinics and hospitals. The grant will help pay for costs associated with construction of guest housing for out-of-town patients and their families, including family-friendly suites. The guest housing facility is part of a planned expansion of OHSU’s South Waterfront campus, and will be built with philanthropic support.

“We are pleased to support the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute in its efforts to extend cancer prevention education, better cancer detection and treatment opportunities to rural Oregonians,” said Karla Chambers, chair of The Ford Family Foundation Board of Directors. “This ambitious project is sure to have many positive health, social and economic impacts throughout Oregon, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

“At the foundation, we are highly focused on enhancing life in rural communities. The needs of rural Oregonians can sometimes be overlooked, but the Knight Cancer Institute is ensuring that those who are diagnosed with cancer have access to the most effective treatments possible – no matter where they live,” said Anne Kubisch, president of The Ford Family Foundation.

The grant from The Ford Family Foundation comes as the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is working to expand many of its statewide efforts. The institute recently launched the Community Partnership Program, which is designed to aid communities throughout Oregon with funding and expertise as well as other resources to help them assess their specific cancer-related needs and start or expand programs to specifically address those needs.

“The Ford Family Foundation has a valued legacy of improving the vitality of Oregon’s rural communities, and this generous grant is a testament to their confidence in us to further leverage that already deep investment in our state,” said Tomasz M. Beer, M.D., F.A.C.P., deputy director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “The network will significantly expand rural Oregonians’ access to our experts as well as state-of-the-art personalized treatment, clinical research and prevention efforts. We will now be better positioned to partner with many communities on projects that enhance cancer care across the full continuum, from prevention to survivorship.”

The $5 million grant from The Ford Family Foundation is among the significant contributions local institutions have made to the Knight Cancer Challenge. Nike Co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, launched the $1 billion Knight Cancer Challenge in September 2013 when they announced that they would donate $500 million to help the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute revolutionize the early detection of cancer if an equal amount could be raised by February 2016. Counting this grant from The Ford Family Foundation, more than $440 million has been contributed to date.

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