Vancouver’s Kuni Foundation awards $9.8 million in grants

The Vancouver-based Kuni Foundation, one of southwest Washington’s largest charitable foundations, awarded $9.8 million to 15 nonprofits in Washington and Oregon in its latest round of grants.

The grants went to organizations that advance cancer research and provide affordable housing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, two issues central to the foundation’s philosophy.

“We are committed to filling funding gaps that impact underserved communities and initiatives,” said Greg Brown, Chairman of the Kuni Foundation Board of Directors and former CEO of Kuni Automotive. “These grants support bold new approaches to cancer research, address funding disparities for cancers affecting women, and advance affordable housing for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

The funding comes at a critical time, according to Kuni Foundation President Angela Hult.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer research has taken precedence over vaccine development and other research related to COVID-19, Hult said. Additionally, the pandemic’s disruption of routine examinations and screenings has led to an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers.

“We absolutely have some catching up to do,” Hult said.

The pandemic has also exacerbated the affordable housing crisis in the North West. According to a report released by the foundation in 2020, more than 24,000 of the estimated 31,000 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the North West are at risk of housing insecurity due to exclusion from planning processes. , escalating housing costs and an unprecedented number of aging caregivers. .

“The affordable housing crisis is obviously off the cards right now,” Hult said. “And for people who have an intellectual or developmental disability, that’s magnified enormously.”

Research against cancer

Oregon Health & Science University has received more than $3.3 million to support four efforts to advance personalized cancer therapy, develop new strategies for the treatment of resistant breast cancer and melanoma, and amplify research on ovarian cancer.

The funding will help OHSU researchers identify effective therapies for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, which is about twice as common in African-American and Hispanic women, Hult said. Researchers are also focusing on new melanoma treatments that could potentially be applied to other cancers.

New melanoma treatments would have local impact: Oregon and Washington have higher melanoma rates than the national average, including a prevalence of late-stage diagnoses and poorer outcomes in rural areas, according to Hult .

“Grants in this round have elements to increase that accessibility, increase that access to testing and increase that access to treatment,” Hult said.

UW Medicine also received more than $3.3 million for four projects aimed at exploring new cancer therapies and improving patient outcomes and access.

“These generous grants to UW Medicine researchers are funding a range of research — from pioneering and innovative treatment to testing new protocols to reduce the financial burden on patients — that will ultimately make cancer care more equitable and effective,” said UW CEO Paul G. Ramsey. Medication.

Other cancer research organizations that have received grants include the Providence Cancer Institute ($400,000) and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center ($750,000).

“In addition to improving accessibility to treatment, we’re also looking at what I call underserved or underfunded cancers,” Hult said. “These are areas of research where we haven’t seen a lot of innovation in 30 or 40 years. And so, wherever we can support ourselves with funding and be kind of a catalyst to help researchers get more attention or get better results, that’s what really excites us.

affordable housing

Five grants were awarded to organizations working to address the affordable housing crisis for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based Edwards Center has received $300,000 to help complete a housing model that will allow adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their parents to live together in a small community, where they can age on place while benefiting from support and a social bond.

The Seattle-based program Ryther received $876,000 to help the program use peer mentors to connect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to services.

Other grants include $300,000 awarded to a statewide advocacy effort led by The Arc of Washington State, Disability Rights Washington and Allies in Advocacy, and $300,000 awarded to Community Homes to develop a community of inclusive housing at Shoreline.

“We are so excited about the work of all the partners we have the opportunity to support,” Hult said. “They have an impact in many ways. It is always an honor for us to support this work and to partner with people who are doing so much good in the community during a very difficult time.

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