The problem reads like a logic puzzle.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is most treatable — sometimes even curable — when caught in its early stages. Screening helps detect CRC early.1 
However, Americans don’t have equitable access to health care. Socioeconomic barriers prevent many people from being screened for CRC, meaning cancer won’t be caught early, meaning some people will die needlessly.2 
Fewer will die if more people get screened. They can’t get screened with barriers blocking their way. Barriers are systemic, widespread, deep-seated.
So how do we get people screened?
Exact Sciences is committed to finding a solution. 
Our Funding Opportunities for CRC Screening Uptake Strategies (FOCUS) Program is providing support to organizations around the country to address the issue. We recently announced $1.1 million in grant awards to 18 groups working to reduce barriers and improve CRC screening uptake in medically underserved communities. 
“Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet approximately 60 million average-risk Americans remain unscreened,”3† said Paul Limburg, Chief Medical Officer, Screening, at Exact Sciences. “We know that awareness and access are critical to increasing screenings, and we are honored to support these organizations that are driving screening uptake and addressing inequities within their communities.” 
CRC is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.4 The disease disproportionately affects different socioeconomic groups, races, and regions in the United States, with higher rates seen in certain populations, such as Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native communities.5 It has been estimated that tens of thousands of CRC cases and deaths could be prevented if 80% of eligible U.S. adults were screened.5  
As a leader in cancer screening and diagnostics testing, we knew we could be part of the solution. Launched in June 2022, our FOCUS program has awarded $1.6 million to 26 programs in 12 states. It provides grant funding to community organizations, health foundations, public health organizations, and advocacy groups working to increase health equity and access to CRC screening. 
The grants put money directly into the communities that need it most, via the people who know how best to use it to improve the health of the local population. Grant recipients have established trust in the communities they serve. They meet people where they are, offering solutions to barriers to care.
Here are the 2023 awardees:
Advocates for Community Wellness, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois
The organization plans to implement a cancer awareness program focused on reducing CRC morbidity and mortality for people of color. 

AltaMed Health Services Corporation
Los Angeles, California
The group will build on its award-winning CRC screening and follow-up program, using community health workers to educate patients about screening and help them navigate care. 

Bond Community Health Center
Tallahassee, Florida
The center will continue its “They Matter. You Matter” project to educate people about the importance of CRC screenings and explore new methods for engaging patients. 

Communities First, Inc.
Flint, Michigan
The organization is expanding its Family Mobility Services and community health education materials aimed at reaching medically underserved populations.  

Community Health Center, Inc.
Middletown, Connecticut
Funding will support the center’s planned care dashboard, which alerts members of the care team when a patient is overdue for a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force-recommended screening.  

Erie Family Health Center, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois
The organization plans to increase access to and rates of CRC screening. It will ensure pathways to follow-up colonoscopies for patients across its 13 centers.  

Kaleida Health Foundation/Great Lakes Cancer Care Collaborative
Buffalo, New York
The community outreach team aims to increase CRC awareness for 900 individuals who face roadblocks to cancer screening, including access to transportation and language barriers.
Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc.  
Kenosha, Wisconsin
The center intends to better understand patient motivation and screening barriers. It will also explore new technology and workflows for managing the CRC screening patient cohort.
Michigan State University
Flint, Michigan
The funding will support a partnership between a Flint community center and MSU’s public health department, focusing on educating hard-to-reach residents in the community about CRC screening. 

Milwaukee Black Grassroots Network for Health Equity
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The organization will promote CRC screening in highly disadvantaged neighborhoods, with a goal of reaching 500 African American people at higher risk of developing CRC.
Nebraska Cancer Coalition
Omaha, Nebraska
The coalition will address intersecting issues of health disparities/health equity and education surrounding CRC screenings in rural and urban settings.  
Northwestern Memorial Foundation
Chicago, Illinois
The foundation aims to increase CRC awareness for 1,500 Bronzeville residents who have higher risk for CRC and mortality rates than the average person in Chicago.  

Odyssey House Louisiana, Inc.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The organization will execute a patient-centered program that uses one-on-one education to increase CRC screenings and understanding of the importance of regular screening.  

Olathe Community Clinic Inc., dba River Family Health Centers
Olathe, Colorado
The funding supports a project that will meet the pressing need to increase CRC screenings, especially for low-income, uninsured, Hispanic/Latino, and other populations at risk.  

Refuah Health Center, Inc. 
Spring Valley, New York
The center intends to increase equitable access to CRC screening and comprehensive gastroenterology care within low-income, marginalized communities.  

Shawnee Health Service and Development Corporation
Carterville, Illinois
The organization’s community health workers will provide patient navigation and education to those who have been prescribed a CRC screening but have not yet completed it.  

Taking Aim at Cancer in Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Each participating clinic aims to increase its baseline screening rate among individuals with low incomes, with a goal of bringing down the state’s high death rate from CRC. 
The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees dba HealthARCH
Orlando, Florida
UCF HealthARCH, a division of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, will implement a screening program at four health systems serving populations at high risk. 

The next grant round is scheduled to open in July 2023. Complete this form to sign up to receive more information. 

References and notes:
1.  National Cancer Institute. Cancer stat facts: Colorectal cancer. Accessed 05/24/23.
3.  Fisher D, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2022;40(4 suppl):65. doi:10.1200/JCO.2022.40.4_suppl.065
4. American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2023-2025. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2023.
5.  Meester RG, Doubeni CA, Zauber AG, et al. Public health impact of achieving 80% colorectal cancer screening rates in the United States by 2018. Cancer. 2015;121(13):2281-2285.
†  Exact Sciences’ estimate assumes 50% screening rate for Americans ages 50-85 and 10% screening rate for ages 45-49.

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