2021 Grants Challenge

Supporting Angelenos’ Fight Against Cancer

We provide education, support & community to everyone in L.A. affected by cancer, particularly through our psychosocial support groups that help to create community & a relief from isolation. As part of our multi-year strategic plan, we are focusing our efforts on extending programming to the most underserved populations, with an eye to particular challenges faced by cancer patients & caregivers of color, and those that are LGBTQ+ and have disabilities.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

City of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

There are roughly 1.8 million new cancer diagnoses in the US each year. 5.42% of the American population has cancer. In 2017, there were 14,600 cancer deaths in L.A. County alone. Each cancer diagnosis brings trauma and stress for everyone involved. A survey of cancer in L.A. reveals what CSCLA already knows: cancer and its associated financial stress is disproportionately visited on Angelenos of color. Black men have the highest incidence rate for all cancers among men, and Black women the third highest. Hawaiian/Samoan women have the highest overall cancer risk for women, and Hawaiian/Samoan men are second among men. Even more discouraging, perhaps, are the outcomes for minority patients after diagnosis. Black patients have elevated health risks from cancer: Black males have the highest cancer incidence and death rates of all major racial/ethic groups, and Black women, despite 7% lower incidence rates of cancer, are 13% more likely to die of cancer than their white peers.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

CSCLA’s programs address the trauma and stress of cancer, and improve the mental health and mortality rates of cancer patients, through our psychosocial support group model. CSCLA’s free-of-charge programs include support groups and counseling; healthy lifestyle classes; social activities; educational workshops; and, child, teen and family programs—for all ages, all diagnoses, at all stages, and for the whole family. Because of the Cancer Support Community’s global efforts, these services are now considered to be an integral part of quality cancer care. The participants will benefit from our evidence-based psychosocial support group model, which is proven to have positive effects on cancer patients’ anxiety and depression, especially when they had high levels of distress before starting the group. Support groups help patients feel less depressed and anxious, and can even improve chances of survival. Support groups have also been proven to be beneficial for caregivers of cancer patients, improving their self-efficacy for managing patients’ cancer symptoms, caregiver stress and preparedness for caregiving, coping strategies, perception of well-being and quality of life, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and others.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 2,500

Indirect Impact: 40,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

If successful, all residents of Los Angeles county impacted by cancer will know of Cancer Support LA’s services, and exercise the option to participate in our programs. Our HEART program will reach the area’s most vulnerable, and engage those populations in culturally-competent services, in partnership with organizations and individuals from those populations. Not only will every Angeleno have the option of accessing our services, but that option will be for supports that fit their specific needs, with fellow patients and caregivers who share their particular struggles. Our virtual services will only further connect Los Angeles residents who would otherwise have a difficult time attending an in-person meeting, such as busy parents or those with disabilities. The Los Angeles cancer community will be educated and supported, and all who want it will receive free mental health support, which research shows will have a material impact on survival rates and caregiver competency.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

By continuing our programming, we will sustain and expand the effects we have seen since our inception in 1982. These effects are measured through the number of participants in our programs; number of new participants, particularly members of Los Angeles minority groups; and results from our CancerSupportSource Distress Screening Survey. The use of CancerSupportSource® Distress Screening Surveys is based on our knowledge that routine screening for social and emotional distress is a key component to comprehensive quality cancer care and is a recommendation of the 2008 Institute of Medicine’s Report, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient, Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs and also the new patient-centered standards from the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer which state that beginning in 2015, all cancer patients must be screened for distress if seen in an accredited cancer center.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will you impact?​

Social and emotional support

LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion

Disability access and inclusion