Turned down for a Shade Structure Grant? Fund it yourself!

                Suzanne M. Olbricht 

By Suzanne M. Olbricht, MD, FAAD

In April, the Academy announced the 2014 Shade Structure Grant Program recipients and the AAD member sponsors. This year, 22 organizations were awarded a grant up to $8,000 to use toward the construction of a permanent shade structure. This brings the total awarded since the Shade Structure Grant Program’s inception in 2000 to 307 shade structures.

Each year, the Academy’s Youth Education Committee reviews hundreds of grant applications. Unfortunately, the AAD can’t provide grants to every applicant. The committee selects only the strongest applications that focus on sun safety education, curricula to support education, and measures to assess the effectiveness of the program.

So what do you do if the shade structure you sponsored isn’t one of the grant recipients? You can do what I’ve done. Fund it yourself!

                Shade structure infographic Since its inception in 2000, the Shade Structure Grant Program has funded 307 shade structures.

Fundraiser for National Zoo shade structure

In 2012, at the Summer Academy Meeting, I decided to use my birthday to raise funds for the Shade Structure Program. I asked party invitees to bring a donation rather than a gift.

I came to the idea after making a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. with an AAD delegation. We met with zoo staff to discuss ways to protect visitors from the sun. As a result of this visit, the zoo improved the SPF-level of sunscreen offered in its stores and created information for their website on how best to protect against sun exposure at the zoo. The zoo also added placards to exhibits offering fun facts on how animals protect themselves from the sun. (See the Academy’s How do animals protect their skin educational flyer.)

During the visit, I recognized that there weren’t many places to escape the sun at the zoo. That’s when I decided to host the fundraiser. At the party, we raised more than $9,000, which was more than enough to fully fund a typical shade structure. However, because of the unique location and engineering requirements, we needed additional funds. I was so bowled over by the response of my friends and colleagues (even my mother donated!) that I decided to honor them and the project by matching their donations. In addition, the AAD philanthropic team joined the effort and raised the money necessary to realize the project. We hope to have the structure completed by the end of 2014.

                Aspire infographic Learn more about the impact of the Shade Structure Grant Program in the Spring 2014 issue of Aspire.

Donate to the Shade Structure Program

The Academy is always looking for new ways to support the Shade Structure Grant Program. At the 2014 Annual Meeting, the President’s Gala served as a fundraiser for the AAD’s SPOT Skin Cancer™ program, which supports the grant program. And at the 2015 Annual Meeting, the President’s Gala will raise funds specifically for the Shade Structure Grant Program.

Even with increased funding, the Academy can’t give a grant to the hundreds of applicants who apply each year. So, if the application you sponsor isn’t accepted, don’t despair. Instead, take matters into your own hands and fund it yourself. Hosting a fundraiser is an excellent way to raise awareness about the importance of sun protection and to build enthusiasm within your community for a shade structure.

Dr. Olbricht serves as secretary-treasurer of the Academy’s Board of Directors. She attended medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and completed her dermatology residency at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. She completed a fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She practices in Burlington, Mass. at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center and is associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

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“The Academy’s community involvement programs can help enrich our lives both professionally and personally. I am supporting the Academy’s SPOT Skin Cancer initiative by raising money to fund a shade structure at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Protecting children’s skin while they play is important to me. With the Academy’s help, I am able to give back in ways that are meaningful to me and will make a lasting impact.”

– Suzanne Olbricht, MD, FAAD
Burlington, Mass.