The history of the Partnership can be summed up in two words; commitment and resiliency, an unrelenting commitment to cancer prevention and survivorship, quality of life, and the resiliency to stay viable despite numerous changes in leadership, membership, structure, and priorities. This abbreviated history highlights the most important milestones that have brought us to this point in our development.
The seeds for the Partnership were sown in 2006 when the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) brought together key stakeholders to write the state cancer plan. The following year, the Partnership came into existence as the result of the consolidation of eight municipal task forces into one statewide cancer coalition to more effectively and efficiently work with the RIDOH to implement the goals and objectives of the plan. The Partnership adopted a structure much akin to a non-profit membership organization, creating a board of directors, electing officers, developing by-laws, and establishing workgroups for the membership to join as the primary approach to completing the statewide cancer plan.
In 2012 the second 5-year cancer plan goals, objectives, and strategies were written with contribution from the Partnership, and the Partnership formally registered its name and organization with the Office of the Secretary of State. Despite its accomplishments, however, the Partnership continued to be dependent upon the RIDOH for staffing and funding. The relationship was symbiotic; the RIDOH needed the coalition to fulfill its federal funding mandates and the Partnership needed RIDOH to provide the scope of work, staffing, and funding to remain viable. This situation became more pressing in 2016 when the funding mechanism for cancer control activities changed to one of procurement by RIDOH. The Partnership not being a 501c3 non-profit therefore needed to find a fiscal agent or apply to become a non-profit. It chose the former option, contracting with Immunization Matters for two years before switching to the Hospital Association of RI (HARI) from 2017 until August of 2020 when the organization formally filed to become a 501c3 non-profit organization.
After deliberation by the Partnership Board and discussions with the fiduciary agent, who was advised by their auditors to limit their Partnership liability, the Partnership took steps to become a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2020. It was a game-changer. No longer would the Partnership be totally dependent upon RIDOH to establish its priorities, funding, or staffing. Although cancer control activities remain at the heart of the Partnership, it now has the flexibility to explore other areas where its special expertise could be of benefit to the cancer community.