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Doesn’t the government fund cancer research?

An estimated 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute* funding for investigative research and clinical trials has decreased 25% the past 10 years. The NCI funds less than 15% of grant applicants. We help fill the funding void by providing grants so doctors can conduct clinical trials and research that can lead to breakthroughs in detection and treatment. Our beneficiaries leverage an SAA grant to gather data so they are in a better position to apply for additional funding from the NCI, bio-tech, pharmaceutical and other organizations.

*The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of eleven agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Why should I donate to SAA?

For every dollar we grant, our beneficiaries have been able to secure three or more dollars in new funding they might otherwise have not received. Our scientific advisory committee of MDs and PhDs have decades of clinical trials and research experience. They invest significant time reviewing and recommending project ideas that have the best promise of collecting vital data that researchers need when applying for other sources of cancer funding. It's important donors know that when we make a grant 100% of the SAA grant must be applied to the approved clinical trial or research project and not other things such overhead and buildings.

How much does SAA award its beneficiaries?

Depending on location and type of swim, it costs $50,000 to $100,000 operate a safe and fun swim. After expenses, we strive to award 70 to 85% of gross revenue from the swim as a grant to our beneficiaries. SAA is a certified by the BBB Giving Wise Alliance and Guidestar Platinum recognized demonstrating our commitment to accountability. Our tax returns and audited financials can be found on this page.


Who are SAA beneficiaries?

We have granted more than $80M to fund cancer research and clinical trials at world-renowned research institutes and organizations including: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Moffitt Cancer Center, Chicago Rush University Medical Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Mass General Hospital for Children Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals of Oakland and San Francisco Children's Hospital, Levine Cancer Institute (Carolinas Healthcare System), Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Feinstein Institute of North Shore, Women and Infants Hospital Rhode Island, Siteman Cancer Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

How does SAA select its beneficiaries?

When we start an SAA open water swim, we partner with a beneficiary in that community. The connection of our local swims to a local beneficiary is part of what makes SAA so special. Our beneficiaries help make the swimming experience by volunteering and sharing stories of impact. Participants are able to swim with the doctors or see them kayak as safety support.

Where can I swim with SAA?

Our calendar showcases our open water and pool swim schedule.

We want to host an SAA swim!

We offer three opportunities for participation. Open water swims are lead by SAA with support from a local committee. Open water swims require a significant investment of time and money to ensure a safe and fun experience. Our goal is to raise minimum of $250,000 from individual, team and corporate support for each open water swim so we can grant at least 70% of the proceeds to the local beneficiary.

Clubs and communities without an open water swim may host an SAA sanctioned pool swim. SAA pool swims are ideal for those who want to be part of the cause but aren’t able to attend an SAA open water swim. More information about starting an SAA pool swim can be found here.

If you are up for an adventure and have a bucket list swim you'd like to do, SAA Experiences may be for you. With SAA Experiences, we select a couple of destination swims each year and invite up to 10 participants to come with us.


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  • BBB accreditation
  • guide star accreditation

Swim Across America is certified by the BBB® Giving Wise Alliance demonstrating our commitment to accountability. We have earned Guidestar Platinum status, the highest level of recognition of transparency for non-profits.