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Seed, cultivate and harvest: VCU Massey Cancer Center grows community partnerships through grant initiative

Marking one year, the Massey Community Grant Initiative invests in local health organizations to expand cancer prevention and research efforts across the commonwealth.

A group of people stand around an a large check made out to awardees of a grant. Ebenezer Baptist Church was one of several recipients of the VCU Massey Cancer Center's Community Seed Grant in 2021. (VCU Massey Cancer Center)

By Sara McCloskey 


VCU Massey Cancer Center planted a seed over the past year in a variety of community-based organizations aimed at growing local efforts to improve the health of Virginians.  


No single entity or organization has all of the resources, access and relationships to address the wide range of problems that factor into our health. That’s where the Community Grant Initiative comes in. 


“The Community Grant Initiative is indicative of the cancer center’s mission to create a 21st century community-to-bench model for others to adopt,” said Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman chair of the VCU Massey Cancer Center.  


Through this initiative, Massey Cancer Center has been working closely with community organizations throughout the commonwealth to increase outreach, engagement and research opportunities in an effort to improve cancer treatment and outcomes for patients.  


Grants are broken up into three levels: Seed, Cultivate and Harvest. The funds aim to strengthen the capacity of community partners and bridge the gap between cancer research and the community.  



“The Community Grant Initiative is indicative of the cancer center’s mission to create a 21st century community-to-bench model for others to adopt.”


- Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman chair of the VCU Massey Cancer Center


One of the 2022 recipients was the Trials of Color (TOC) “Teach One Reach One” project which aims to raise awareness about colorectal cancer (CRC) among underserved and minority populations in Petersburg, Va. The $5,000 Seed Grant was able to support TOC’s efforts to educate and provide screenings to residents at no cost.  

“We educated the community about CRC in churches, outside community events, bus stations, social media and local newspapers in Petersburg,” Sharon Rivera-Sanchez, the TOC chief executive officer (CEO) and founder, said. “We were able to provide transportation, and by being out in the field we had an opportunity to network and build several partnerships.” 


Massey team members are currently in the process of evaluating new applicants for the 2023 Community Seed Grants. In the meantime, we want to share with you some of the successful 2022 partnerships.


Here are the stories of seven recipients of the 2022 Massey Cancer Center Community Seed Grants:


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