Keep A Breast is a non-profit with a mission to reduce breast cancer risk and its impact globally through art, education and prevention. The organization has been speaking to young women about breast cancer prevention for 22 years.
In 2020, the organization launched its KAB Give Back Grant program to offer some financial support to women of color who are breast cancer survivors or who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
In its first year, the grant program awarded 16 grants to breast cancer survivors in Tennessee. Last year, 240 women of color nationwide were awarded grants. This year the goal is to raise $250,000 to support 500 women across the country.
“When I started reading about how African American women and women of color were being diagnosed later and had higher death rates, I learned that a lot of those reasons were because of access to education and access to care,” Founder, Shaney jo Darden told ESSENCE.
“I created the Give Back Grant program so we could put funds directly in the hands of women who need it and make it easy to apply, easy to get the money and with no restrictions,” Darden added.
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According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, Black women have the highest death rates from breast cancer of all racial and ethnic groups. They are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Some reasons for the high mortality rate include lack of access to screenings, care and preventive education.
Through financial assistance to its grantees, the KAB Give Back Grant aims to counteract inequality in the healthcare system. Selected grantees receive $500 each to spend however they would like. According to Darden, most women selected for grants spend the funds on things like bills, small businesses and self-care.
“It came just at the exact right time because I had just finished treatment,“ ” 2020 grant recipient Shatecka Mayo told ESSENCE. “I had gone through chemo, I went through surgery, and I was just finishing up radiation when I got approved for a grant. I was so glad because I really needed a reset from everything and everybody,” she added.
In addition to the funds, Keep A Breast works to educate people about the racial disparities of the disease’s impact and improve breast health education and health care access with free tools like its KAB Check Yourself app.
The 36-year-old used her grant fund to take a much-needed girl’s trip to Miami. Now cancer-free, Mayo supports the organization’s awareness and advocacy efforts and hopes the program can reach even more women.
“All the information is very beneficial, whether you’re white, a Black woman like me, brown, or any color. I hope people can take the time to check it out. It can save a life, literally,” she said.
The Keep A Breast Grant program will be accepting grant applications for its 2022 program through September 15th. For more information, please visit www.keep-a-breast.org.