Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation supports cancer patients , COVID-19

University of CHicago Pritzker School of Medicine studen Rachel Rolinski stocks a food pantry for cancer patients.
University of CHicago Pritzker School of Medicine studen Rachel Rolinski stocks a food pantry for cancer patients.

This spring, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation (RLCF), formerly known as the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation, made a generous donation to the University of Chicago Medicine to provide emergency funds for cancer patients and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foundation’s gift supports both Feed1st—a program that provides food to patients and their families—as well as the University’s supportive oncology services, which range from social work and mental health care services to cancer nutrition and palliative care. These services help to ensure patients have the best quality of life possible after their initial diagnosis and treatment.

“The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation’s timely gift is enabling Feed1st to meet the fast-growing need for food support, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, among our cancer patients, their families, and the community of caregivers of people affected by cancer,” said Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, director of Feed1st and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and medicine-geriatrics. “Nutrition is an essential ingredient in cancer prevention, control, survivorship, and caregiving.”

Funding from RLCF is already helping vulnerable cancer patients and their families. For example, thanks to their donation, a single mother and her son—who is undergoing extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments—are receiving groceries and assistance to cover the cost of transportation to and from medical appointments. Without this assistance, the mother struggled to access nutritious foods and a safe method of transportation in order to protect her son’s immunocompromised system during the pandemic.

“The financial impact of COVID-19 is real for so many,” said Nita Karnik Lee, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and faculty director in the Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Health Equity. “This much-needed emergency funding is helping us better serve our cancer patients and their families in this time of need.”

The foundation’s donation to UChicago Medicine is part of a broader effort to support COVID-19 relief worldwide. RLCF’s $10 million pledge included commitments to fund grants for Ralph Lauren employees in need, the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) / Vogue Fashion Fund, as well as a network of international cancer institutions. In addition, Ralph Lauren is donating approximately 1.5 million clothing products to support frontline healthcare workers and families in need around the world.

“At the heart of our company, there has always been a spirit of togetherness that inspires our creativity, our confidence, and most importantly, our support for one another. In the past weeks and months, that spirit has never wavered,” said Ralph Lauren, executive chairman and chief creative officer. “We believe that no matter who you are or where you are from, we are all connected. That is why we are taking significant action to help our teams and communities through this crisis.” 

RLCF’s partnership with UChicago Medicine began about 10 years ago when Annemette Clausen, University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation (UCCRF) Trustee and Women’s Board member, introduced the two groups.

“I am proud to have played a part in establishing this long-term partnership with Ralph Lauren and to stand behind UChicago Medicine, which is leading so many promising research projects—not only in cancer research but across a number of areas,” Clausen said.

Past gifts from RLCF have supported breast cancer research at UChicago Medicine. In addition, over the years, Ralph Lauren has hosted shopping events for Women’s Board members, with a percentage of proceeds supporting cancer research.

RLCF has also sponsored the Breakthrough Ball, the UCCRF Women’s Board’s annual fundraising event, with proceeds supporting leading-edge research into the causes, diagnosis, and prevention of cancer at the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The foundation has also donated a variety of high quality items and special packages to the annual event. In recognition of their generous support and leadership, RLCF was honored as the recipient of the UCCRF Women’s Board Partners in Discovery Award in 2015.

“The Women’s Board couldn’t be more grateful for the wonderful relationship that has developed over the years with Ralph Lauren,” Clausen said.

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