Since 2001, my school has supported the Susan G. Komen Foundation by participating in the annual Race for the Cure every September.
Last fall, the Susan G. Komen Foundation (“the Foundation”) proposed several changes to the list of institutions it would support financially. Controversy arose as the decision potentially affected access to cancer screenings for many women. Questions about the justice of continuing to support the Foundation were raised nationally and within my school community. After thorough research, and spirited debate and discussion, the student Service Board voted to continue our support of the Foundation through participation in the Race for the Cure.
To develop a position paper, we researched the Foundation’s investment in cancer research, funding of cancer treatment and support services, and the allocation of money for administrative overhead. In addition, students attended the annual event at which the New York affiliate of the Foundation awarded their grants for the year. Grants went to organizations such as the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Planned Parenthood, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, St. Barnabas Hospital, Gilda’s Club of NYC, and Project Renewal, Inc. Students listened to the presenters and recipients to gain a better understanding of who was supported and why. The Service Board debated the issue and examined the governance changes put in place at the Foundation at the national and local levels.
Some factors that influenced the decision to continue our support of the Foundation include:
- The Foundation focuses on providing support to individuals diagnosed with cancer and giving them access to various resources as well as supporting patients’ families.
- The Foundation gives more money, in comparison to other private organizations, to research both causes of and prevention of breast cancer.
- The Foundation’s administrative costs are low so a greater percentage of donations are put to use in a productive programs.
Through this process we learned the importance of thorough research, the tradeoffs in making informed decisions, and what traits we value when we decide to mobilize the resources of the a community in support of a cause.
I was inspired to see the members of the Service Board passionately debate the controversy and ultimately come to a decision based on what we believe was the right choice for our community.