The Rockefeller Foundation’s Public Charity Expands Project ACT to Provide At-Risk Communities Nationwide with Free At-Home Covid-19 Tests
The Rockefeller Foundation, through its public charity RF Catalytic Capital (RFCC), announced the nationwide expansion of Project Access Covid Tests (Project ACT) to provide free at-home Covid-19 tests directly to at-risk communities across the United States. After working with health departments in six states to deliver an initial one million tests, RFCC is opening up the program to all U.S. states and territories. Already, health departments in five states – Maine, New Mexico, Kansas, Michigan, and North Carolina – have signed up and committed funding to secure 1.2 million tests. Enrollment for health departments is open through August 31, 2022, with tests to be distributed through the end of February 2023.
“If there’s one thing the last two years have taught us, it’s that prioritizing those with the least access to public health has enormous positive effects,” said Andrew Sweet, Vice President, Global Covid-19 Response and Recovery, The Rockefeller Foundation. “Project ACT has successfully demonstrated this type of collaborative effort in action. It has been a textbook example of how philanthropic seed funding can partner with the sector toward a greater good, so we highly encourage health departments to begin the process as soon as possible, ahead of the August 31 enrollment deadline.”
The Rockefeller Foundation provided the initial $7.45 million in January to pilot Project ACT. Phase two of Project ACT is being implemented through RFCC. RFCC serves as the cost aggregator and an innovative tool with which state governments and others can pool resources, providing an “all-in” price that drives down the costs of tests, logistics, and distribution. As result, Project ACT has highly competitive pricing, offering an all-in price including delivery and website costs, at a substantive discount to the average U.S. retail price of $12. For this next phase, iHealth Labs, Inc. will continue to provide iHealth Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Tests, and the logistics and distribution associated with the program will continue to be managed by health technology company, CareEvolution, and logistics provider and distribution leader, Amazon.com.
State and territory health departments will determine how many tests to purchase to ensure access is available in target communities, where the risk of contracting Covid-19 has been higher due to geographic challenges as well as structural and racial inequities. The most recent CDC data shows both hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 are about twice as high for Black and Latino Americans. Health departments identify these communities based on their own criteria, informed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index, combined with state data on Covid-19 burden.
Eligible individuals in vulnerable communities can order their free Covid-19 tests through www.AccessCovidTests.org. Each household will receive one kit with five tests, typically within a week of ordering. Critical considerations, including eligibility and reordering protocols, will be determined on a state-by-state basis and can be rapidly updated to ensure the program continues to target and reach communities most in need.
“We’ve been proud to see the success of the pilot project through The Rockefeller Foundation’s $7.5 million initial investment,” said Erica Guyer, RFCC Secretary. “As we now have a model that has proven successful, we will be able to get even more Covid tests in the hands of those Americans who need them most. We are incredibly optimistic about the potential of this kind of funding mechanism to support us in future health crises.”
“Access to convenient, affordable, rapid testing limits the spread of COVID-19 and protects the health of Maine people,” said Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “Maine’s partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation through Project ACT enables us to send free at-home tests directly to those in need, including in rural Mainewhere testing access is limited, while avoiding the logistical challenges of storing and distributing tens of thousands of tests. We look forward to continuing this partnership to serve communities throughout Maine.”
“By making tests available to people who aren’t going to be able to purchase them on their own, or have difficulty getting to a testing site, we hope to enhance our capacity to reach individuals and communities most affected by Covid-19,” said Laura Parajon, MD, Deputy Cabinet Secretary of New Mexico Department of Health.
“Project ACT has helped us tap into a well-developed testing infrastructure to support Kansans in communities without ready access to free testing for COVID-19,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, State Health Officer, Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “This collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation has been invaluable for us.”
“Testing is an important tool to limit the spread of the virus and at-home tests allow individuals to very quickly determine if they are positive for the virus and take actions to isolate and seek treatment if needed,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “I urge Michiganders to order their tests today in addition to getting the safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine and their booster dose when eligible, as the vaccine is our best defense against the virus.”
“For each tool in our fight against COVID-19, the last mile of getting that tool in the hands of people who need it has always been the hardest,” said Secretary Kody H. Kinsley, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “Partnering with Project ACT helps us improve access to testing, especially in our communities with historic lack of access to health care.”
State and territory health departments interested in participating in the program can contact Allison Moore for Project ACT at email@example.com.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.