This collaborative research effort was due to childhood cancer groups coming together as part of CAC2.
When the founders of Florida-based I Care I Cure Childhood Cancer Foundation approached Jay and Liz Scott of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation at one of the early C3U (now CAC2) meetings, it was the beginning of a productive and fruitful collaboration that has increased the reach of both organizations’ grantmaking.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) has a successful track record of funding cutting-edge medical research – more than 350 projects since 2006. To identify and select the best projects, ALSF has assembled a Scientific Advisory Board, Scientific Review Board and Nursing Review Board of leading researchers and experts in the field of childhood cancer. ALSF also consults with a network of contacts at hospitals and institutions across the country about critical and unmet needs in pediatric cancer research.
As a newer foundation with a volunteer president and no paid support staff at the time, I Care I Cure (ICIC)’s idea was to leverage ALSF’s grant review process for their own grantmaking. ICIC’s mission is to develop more targeted and effective childhood cancer therapies with fewer toxic and debilitating side effects.
“Our goal is to get the money we raise in the hands of qualified and very diligent scientists as soon as possible,” said Beth-Ann Krimsky, President of ICIC. “While we thought about setting up a new medical research review board, we thought it would be a waste of resources for the scientists who we would want to see on the board. We did not want to in essence reinvent the wheel, because we recognized the quality of Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s review board.”
The Collaborative Model – How It Works
The organizations agreed on a joint approach in which each organization carries out distinct responsibilities. ALSF recruits applications for medical research projects, screens them for eligibility and assigns them to its Scientific Review Board for scoring. Then ALSF presents ICIC with a number of scientifically-worthy projects that fall within the scope of ICIC’s specific mission. In a given year, this is usually between four and six projects, although some years there have been as many as ten.
“ICIC gets projects that have been vetted without having to do the vetting,” said Jay Scott, Co-Director of ALSF. This frees ICIC’s own medical research committee to concentrate on choosing worthy projects based on how closely they align with ICIC’s mission and goals.
ALSF matches the funds that ICIC invests. As a result, projects that might otherwise go unfunded can get funding, moving more research forward.
“It makes both of our monies go further and make a bigger impact. In my mind it’s a win-win,” said Scott.
For ICIC, the greater efficiency of the collaboration means that they can devote more of their time to fundraising. Krimsky emphasized that it also means that the physician-scientists they would recruit to serve on an ICIC scientific advisory board can instead spend that time on their important work in the lab. After all, in the end, “We’re all working for the same thing,” she said – “better cures for childhood cancer.”