Kuni Foundation Awards $13.2 Million to Oregon and Washington Nonprofits

Grants Support Research Dismantling Disparities in Cancer Detection and Treatment for BIPOC Communities; Innovative Housing Solutions for People Experiencing Intellectual Disabilities

Accelerating cancer research that improves detection and treatment for underserved communities and increasing access to housing for adults experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are priorities reflected in the 19 grants awarded to organizations throughout Washington and Oregon.

“We’re excited to help advance the transformative work of these organizations and individuals,” said Angela Hult, President of the Kuni Foundation. “These projects reflect our commitment to supporting collaborative, pioneering approaches that propel equitable access to housing, cancer detection and treatment.”

Reducing Disparities, Improving Outcomes

Native Americans face profound barriers in accessing cancer screenings and treatment that can result in later stage diagnosis, increased complications, and life-limiting prognosis. A collaborative effort between UW Medicine and Washington State University received just over $1.4 million from the Foundation to work in tandem with tribal communities on culturally appropriate solutions to reduce barriers to cancer detection and treatment and improve outcomes. Research focused on early detection of endometrial cancer among Black women received $1.2 million in funding. Black women’s mortality resulting from endometrial cancer has worsened over the past 20 years, and they are more likely to have advanced stage cancer when diagnosed.

UW Medicine researchers also received grants for efforts that include the creation of the world’s first Cancer and Transplant Clinic and National Collaborative Bioregistry and the advance of glioblastoma research, one of the most fatal and hard to treat brain tumors.

“These transformational grants recognize the strength of cancer research and collaborations across UW Medicine,” said Paul G. Ramsey, MD, Chief Executive Officer of UW Medicine. “Many of these grants support bold projects aimed at reducing health disparities in underserved populations. We are truly grateful to the Kuni Foundation for their significant partnership and advocacy for a healthier and more just future.”

Providence St. Vincent Medical Foundation received $430,000 to explore key drivers of disparities in breast cancer screenings by socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity. The intent is to drive health policy and systems change to create more equitable health outcomes. In the long-term, these changes will lead to higher rates of mammography screening, especially among communities experiencing disparities, leading to earlier treatment and increased survival.

Oregon Health & Science University received $1.5 million to accelerate the development of low-cost blood biopsies, which would increase access to early cancer detection for underserved communities. The Knight Scholars Program received $1 million to expand to schools in Portland and Eastern Oregon that have a high percentage of students from Hispanic, Native American and Black communities and to bolster peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities. The program offers high school students whose communities are underrepresented in cancer research, health care and public health the opportunity to explore cancer research careers.

Expanding Housing Access

Ten nonprofits advancing a diverse range of urban and rural housing solutions for the IDD community also received funding. According to a recent study cited in Psychology Today, 30 to 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness also experience a cognitive challenge, and many have never been professionally diagnosed. A $230,000 grant to Seattle-based Ryther will advance community outreach and accessibility to screenings, mental health services and public benefits, transitioning individuals experiencing both IDD and homelessness to stable housing.

A $250,000 grant to Northwest Housing Alternatives will support the due diligence necessary for the development of an inclusive, affordable housing effort in Portland while a grant to FCC Homes provides emergency funding to find stable housing for displaced adults. When the Port of Centralia declared eminent domain over the land owned by Alderhouse, a Washington home for adults experiencing IDD, FCC Homes stepped in to help the long-time residents find alternative housing. Horizon Project, Inc. received $850,000 to expand rural housing options in Hermiston and Pendleton.

“Actively listening to the voices of people and service providers in both rural and urban areas, the Kuni Foundation is flexible in its partnerships, helping dreams become reality,” said Terri Silvas, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of The Horizon Project. “The Foundation’s support has been a catalyst for helping our organization enhance inclusion and quality of life for people experiencing IDD in rural eastern Oregon.”

The following organizations received grants:

Alpha Supported Living Service, Bothell, WA: IDD Home Renovation

Community Vision, Portland, OR: Expanding Inclusive and Independent Housing

Edwards Center, Beaverton, OR: IDD Home Renovation

FFC Homes, Centralia, WA: Relocation for Displaced Alderhouse Residents

Horizon Project, Inc., Milton-Freewater, OR: New Rural Housing Development

Life Enrichment Options, Seattle, WA: New Housing

Northwest Housing Alternatives, Portland, OR: Apartments at Grace Commons

Ryther, Seattle, WA: Pathways to Stability for IDD People Experiencing Homelessness

Stephen’s Place, Vancouver, WA: General Operating Support for IDD Housing

Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR: SMARRT/Low-Cost Blood Biopsies

Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR: Knight Scholars Program: Expansion to Promote a More Diverse Cancer Research Workforce

Providence St. Vincent Medical Foundation, Portland, OR: Enhancing Health Equity by Understanding Key Drivers of Disparities in Breast Cancer Screening

UW Medicine, Seattle, WA: Translating Single Cell Analysis into Actionable Therapeutic Strategies for Glioblastoma

UW Medicine, Seattle, WA: Discovery Omics for Targeted Treatment for Orphan Brain Cancers

UW Medicine, Seattle, WA: Reevaluation of TVUS to Improve Early Detection of Endometrial Cancer Among Black Women

UW Medicine, Seattle, WA: Comprehensive Cancer & Transplant Consult Clinic and National Collaborative Bioregistry

UW Medicine, Seattle, WA: Developing the Basis for Precision Modification of Gut Microbiome to Improve Cancer Immunotherapy

UW Medicine, Seattle, WA: Increasing Native Radiation Oncology Access: Disparities and Solutions

UW Medicine, Seattle, WA: Uncovering the Progression from Clonal Hematopoiesis to Leukemia

About the Kuni Foundation:

Based in Vancouver, Washington, the Kuni Foundation fuels the power of human potential by investing in scientists advancing cancer research and efforts that accelerate the inclusion of people who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn more at www.kunifoundation.org or via Twitter at @KuniFoundation.

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