From eliminating the debt of Morehouse College graduates to providing resources for Black-owned businesses that were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, businessman Robert F. Smith has used philanthropy as an avenue to uplift and empower disenfranchised communities. One of his latest projects is focused on Black men’s health. The Vista Equity Partners founder is joining forces with the Prostate Cancer Foundation to address racial disparities surrounding prostate cancer.
Research shows Black men are 76 percent more likely to develop the disease and 2.5 times more likely to die from it compared to other groups. Determined to address the alarming trend, Smith teamed up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation for the development of an affordable test that would detect early signs of prostate cancer and ultimately help with risk management. Smith will help fund the research for the test.
“As African American men are at an increased risk for being diagnosed or dying from prostate cancer, understanding their risk profile and applying this knowledge earlier with strategic detection, care, and decisions about cancer risk management is of utmost importance to address health inequity in the U.S.,” Smith said in a statement. “This is why I made a personal commitment to help accelerate research, encourage African American men to participate in the study and subsequent testing, and develop new detection strategies that have the power to transform how we diagnose and treat this disease and help save lives.” Dr. Jonathan W. Simons, who serves as the president of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, says the creation of this affordable test will be instrumental in eliminating socioeconomic barriers surrounding the accessibility to adequate healthcare.
There have been several efforts to address racial health disparities. Earlier this year, Howard University received a grant to focus on sickle cell disease education and outreach in underserved communities.