If you’d like to donate to the Foundation, please see the Donate page.
To qualify for a grant, you must meet the following requirements:
- You or someone in your immediate family must have been a subject in historic research conducted on individuals—particularly within minority communities—without their knowledge or consent, such as the harvesting and use of Henrietta Lacks’s cells, the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies, The Human Radiation Experiments, and others. For more information, visit our grants page.
- You must be in financial need.
We provide financial assistance to individuals and families — particularly within minority communities — who were involved in historic research cases without their knowledge, consent, or benefit. This includes the cases of Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells, the Tuskeegee Syphilis Studies, and The Human Radiation Experiments, among others. The Foundation offers those who have benefited from those contributions — including scientists, universities, corporations, and the general public — a way to show their appreciation to such research subjects and their families. For more information, see the About section.
The Foundation was established in January 2010, and received tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization in December 2010.
The Foundation has awarded more than 80 grants to many qualifying members of Henrietta Lacks’s immediate family. It has also awarded education grants to the family members of the survivors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies through its support of The Voices of Our Fathers Legacy Foundation.
Once an application is completed and it is determined that the applicant meets the criteria listed above, the Board of Directors evaluates the application to determine whether the grant being requested is consistent with the stated mission of the foundation, which awards grants for education, medically necessary medical and dental needs that are not covered by an applicant’s insurance, and in rare cases grants for emergency assistance connected with maintaining housing and employment. Once it is determined that the application fits within the mission of the Foundation, and that the recipient is eligible to receive such a grant, the Board of Directors votes on the application.
Rebecca Skloot is the founder of the Henrietta Lacks Foundation and author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. For more on Rebecca, and answers to commonly asked questions about her writing and her work with the foundation, visit her official site.
Though nearly 30 members of the Lacks family have received grants from the foundation, the foundation is not affiliated with the Lacks family and has been established to benefit the general public by, among other things, providing financial help to those in need who have made contributions to scientific research unwillingly or unknowingly. The Board of Directors has been carefully selected to include numerous specialists who are deeply trusted by members of the Lacks family and who have a deep understanding of the story and legacy of Henrietta Lacks and her family as well as other potentially qualifying recipients. Consistent with IRS guidelines, the foundation has adopted a conflict of interest policy designed to ensure that the directors and officers of the foundation are not potential beneficiaries of grants. To that end, no member of the Lacks family sits on the board, which allows members of the Lacks family to remain eligible to receive funds from the foundation and helps to ensure that the Board of Directors will be free from any conflicts of interest in implementing the charitable mission of the foundation.