Since 2009, the National Football League (NFL) and the American Cancer Society have partnered to fight cancer and save lives through Crucial Catch. Along with educating the public about the importance of prevention and early detection, the initiative raises funds to help community health centers and health systems in under-resourced areas increase access to cancer screening. Today, the American Cancer Society and the NFL are proud to highlight the 2023 NFL CHANGE and Links to Care grant recipients. These funded projects are using various resources to increase access to breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer screening, preventative HPV vaccination, and follow up care in NFL markets.

Cancer can impact anyone at any age, and finding cancer early increases survival rates. Still too many individuals for whom cancer screening is recommended remain unscreened due to barriers outside of their control. To address screening barriers, the following 2023 CHANGE grant recipients are implementing activities like offering education, screening resources and patient navigation to the communities they serve.

  • Adelante Healthcare (Arizona)
  • Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services – ACCESS (Michigan)
  • Baton Rouge General Medical Center (Louisiana)
  • Carle Health Methodist Hospital (Illinois)
  • ChesPenn Health Services (Pennsylvania)
  • Denver Health (Colorado)
  • El Rio Health (Arizona)
  • Gardner Health Services (California)
  • Goshen Medical Center (North Carolina)
  • Hennepin Healthcare (Minnesota)
  • Holy Cross Health (Florida)
  • Holyoke Health Center Inc. (Massachusetts)
  • Lone Star Family Health Center (Texas)
  • Mountain Park Health Center (Arizona)
  • Neighborcare Health (Washington)
  • Neighborhood Family Practice (Ohio)
  • Neighborhood Health (Tennessee)
  • Neighborhood Health (Virginia)
  • Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (Arizona)
  • Nevada Health Centers, Inc. (Nevada)
  • North Texas Area Community Health Centers, Inc. (Texas)
  • Northeast Georgia Medical Center (Georgia)
  • NorthLakes Community Clinic (Wisconsin)
  • Northwell Health Cancer Institute (New York)
  • Primary Health Solutions (PHS) (Ohio)
  • St. John’s Community Health (California)
  • Stony Brook Medicine – Internal Medicine/Primary Care (New York)
  • Tampa General Hospital Foundation Inc. (Florida)
  • The Chautauqaua Center, Inc. (New York)
  • University of Florida Health Shands (Florida)
  • UPMC Department of Family Medicine: Squirrel Hill Family Medicine and Matilda Theiss Health Center (Pennsylvania)
  • Venice Family Clinic (California)
  • Vibrant Health (Kansas)

This year, to specifically improve breast cancer outcomes, the NFL and American Cancer Society added a new Links to Care Community Grants pilot project in select NFL markets. Successful breast cancer screening programs must be equipped to quickly refer, diagnose and treat abnormalities when detected. This requires collaboration and well-coordinated approaches to deliver high-quality care from cancer screening to treatment. The pilot project aims to create connections between community health centers and NFL team affiliated hospitals to ensure patients complete recommended screening, follow up care and treatment. The following six site collaborations participating in the pilot are working together to assess challenges within the screening to treatment process and develop action plans based on evidence-based practices.

  • Bellin Health & N.E.W. Community Clinic (Green Bay Packers)

  • Erie County Medical Center Corporation & Neighborhood Health (Buffalo Bills)

  • Henry Ford Health & The Wellness Plan (Detroit Lions)

  • Ochsner Health & Ochsner Community Health Brees Family Centers (New Orleans Saints)

  • Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center & Health Choice Network (Miami Dolphins)

  • Virginia Mason Franciscan Health & International Community Health Services (Seattle Seahawks)

“The NFL is a critical partner helping us to address life-threatening gaps in cancer screening, in the communities that need it most,” said Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society. “The support these clinics and health systems receive through our ACS and NFL Crucial Catch collaboration improve lives by facilitating early cancer detection, and maximizing opportunities for enhanced outcomes. We are proud to work with the NFL toward our goal to end cancer as we know it, for everyone.”

The NFL-funded grants are part of a group of nearly 200 projects launched by the American Cancer Society that focus on improving cancer screening and HPV vaccination rates in targeted communities. Since 2012, Crucial Catch funding has contributed to over 650,000 screenings and reached more than 1.2 million individuals. Crucial Catch promotes the connection between overall wellness and cancer prevention through providing local cancer screening resources via The Defender presented by Sleep Number. Visit to find local cancer screening resources and learn how to reduce your risk.

This article was originally published September 28, 2023, by the American Cancer Society. It is republished with permission