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$1M grant will help fight cancer in at-risk communities

With help from The Links, this collaboration aims to increase awareness of breast and colon cancer screenings.

Cancer is a disease that affects everyone, but not equally. Studies indicate that Black Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers. 

For the next year, ACS and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., have committed to address the unequal burden of cancer by delivering cancer prevention and early detection information and resources in at-risk communities.

Backed by a $1 million grant from Anthem, the collaboration will work to increase awareness of breast and colon cancer screening. The programming is anticipated to reach up to 10,000 people.

"The risk factors for Black Americans impacted by breast and colon cancer is alarming and the work to improve early detection must include a focus on eliminating health barriers if we are going to challenge the status quo," said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, chief clinical officer at Anthem, Inc. "This is one more way we are working to foster an open dialogue in our at-risk communities and help to provide residents with access to tools and healthcare resources dedicated to early cancer screenings that will help further our goal to eliminate health disparities." 

To help initiate and promote the conversations and group informational sessions, we have engaged The Links Foundation, Incorporated to train approximately 500 ACS/Links Health Ambassadors who will play a critical role in providing local resources to individuals and encourage them to seek care at community health centers.

“The Links are trusted messengers across the country with a commitment to community service and advancing public health,” said Tawana Thomas-Johnson, our vice president, Diversity and Inclusion.

The importance to reach and influence members within the Black community comes at a critical time. Research done by ACS shows that Black men are 1.2 times more likely to have new cases of colon cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic White men, and death rates among Black women diagnosed with breast cancer are approximately 40% higher than White women.

"The statistics surrounding cancer and people of African descent are disheartening. We not only have the highest mortality rate, but when compared to other racial and ethnic groups, our survival of most cancers has the shortest window," said Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, PhD, national president of The Links, Incorporated and The Links Foundation, Incorporated. "Our organization exists to serve the community, and part of our service efforts are targeted at addressing cancer disparities and driving health equity in all communities touched by cancer. This grant from Anthem Foundation will allow us to continue transforming communities through community outreach and education," she added.

About Anthem Foundation

The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on critical initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts, and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100% match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit and its blog at

About The Links Foundation, Incorporated

The Links Foundation, Incorporated has contributed more than $25 million to charitable causes since its founding. In 2018, it named its fifth $1 million grantee – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Other million- dollar grantees include the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C.

About The Links, Incorporated

The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation established in 1946. Its membership consists of more than 16,000 professional women of color in 292 chapters in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. Links members contribute more than 1 million documented hours of community service annually. For more information, visit

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