From Nearby to Nairobi, NVIDIA Foundation Funds Wide Range of Cancer Care Nonprofits

by Liz Austin

In the effort to help advance the fight against cancer, the NVIDIA Foundation has donated more than $4 million in recent years to support research, and patients and their families through programs large and small, local and far afield.

Kids & Art watercolor workshop

For World Cancer Day, marked on Feb. 4, we’re spotlighting a few of the latest cancer-fighting efforts spearheaded by the Foundation, our employee-led corporate giving arm, through its Compute the Cure initiative.

Among its efforts are Cancer Care grants, $50,000 awards given out each year to a handful of nonprofits – vetted and voted on by our employees – that provide care and support to those in need.

Finding Relief Through Art

One of the latest recipients is the Kids & Art Foundation, a San Francisco Bay Area art therapy program that gives children and their families a break from battling cancer through arts and crafts. Our contribution will fund 200 weekly workshops serving more than 2,000 children during the next two years.

Kids & Art was started by a parent who saw the healing impact art had on her son and members of her family during his treatment for cancer. It offers free art workshops, run by volunteer professional artists, in the pediatric oncology waiting areas at two local children’s hospitals.

Artwork created in the workshops will be on display at the San Francisco International Airport through April 15.

Cancer Care in Kenya

Another grant is supporting the American Cancer Society’s efforts in Kenya. Through its Radiotherapy Subsidy Program, the ACS is helping transform cancer treatment in the African nation, where the disease is the third leading cause of death.

For years, patients had to travel from all over the country to Nairobi to reach Kenya’s only public comprehensive cancer center for radiotherapy treatment. With only two machines in the hospital and hundreds of patients, an 18-month waitlist developed, creating a delay that for many was a death sentence.

Seeing an opportunity to reduce the long wait times, the ACS introduced a program to subsidize radiation treatment for some of these medically vulnerable patients at a nearby private hospital. With funding from the NVIDIA Foundation, the program expanded to an additional private hospital, both providing therapy to those in need at nearly half the normal price.

“Treatment was financially out of reach for most patients,” said Laura Plattner, a program manager for the ACS’s Global Cancer Treatment program, based in Washington. “The program focused on helping patients – they received care, they felt invested in, they were treated with respect and dignity – and it meant all the difference.”

Habiba Hussein (right) after a radiotherapy session at the Nairobi Hospital accompanied by her daughter, Amina.
Habiba Hussein (right) after a radiotherapy session at the Nairobi Hospital, accompanied by her daughter, Amina.

The investment has also helped shift the marketplace for cancer treatment in Kenya, creating more opportunity for care for all patients. The subsidy program for therapy at the private hospitals later was made available to all patients referred from a public facility.

This focus on the need for improving treatment options recently led Kenya’s national health insurance to expand its coverage to add more cancer services, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This more affordable coverage is accepted at public and private facilities.

Read more on our Cancer Care grants in 2017 and 2016.