Where the Money Goes

Seeds Planted by the Beautiful Lives of Children Gone Too Soon Will Continue to Bloom for Others

The research we invest in is lighting a path. Our seed grants have acquired follow-on funding from the National Institute of Health and other organizations. Our efforts have resulted in a total of over 12 million going to the fight against childhood brain cancer. Watch Prayers From Maria's 2021 Sunflower Soiree Finance Speech

$50,000 DIPG All-In Initiative/National Institute of Health

This funding optimizes promising therapeutics prior to getting to the clinic. The objective is to strengthen the rationale and improve efficiency of early clinical trials while providing clinical benefit to children with highly aggressive brain tumors by expanding valuable pre-clinical information.

$100,000 MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland

This grant went to funding breakthrough research regarding a family of proteins which are responsible for driving glioma cell infiltration in the brain. Thanks to Prayers From Maria seed funding, this study garnered $3.3 million in supplemental funding from the National Cancer Institute and other funders which led to the discovery of two routes of genetic manipulations that could dramatically diminish brain tumor invasion.

$200,000 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

This funded the participation of the largest genomic analysis to date of pediatric brain tumors. This study has allowed researchers a new understanding of the nature of these tumors, which led to the development of more innovative models that helped investigators advance to testing new drugs in the laboratory.

DIPG/DMG Nurse Navigator Program

Prayers From Maria is proud to announce funding of the DIPG/DMG Nurse Navigator Program, in collaboration with several other family foundations. My DIPG Navigator is a new nationwide program designed to give much-needed, free, individualized guidance for patients and their families facing a pediatric brain cancer diagnosis, specifically DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) or DMG (diffuse midline glioma). Gaining access to the most up-to-date treatment information has been challenging for many patients and their families, as most physicians across the country have not directly treated a DIPG/DMG patient.Working through the shock of the diagnosis and prognosis, patients and their families often find themselves alone in navigating treatment plans and managing side effects. They must quickly make important decisions that will impact the patient’s care, and they often struggle to find the help they need. Additionally, systemic healthcare inequities, often linked to racial and socioeconomic factors, can impact the ability to access information and navigate a DIPG/DMG diagnosis, particularly in finding highly sought-after clinical trials. My DIPG Navigator, led by dedicated nurses with years of experience in pediatric oncology, empowers patients and their families with the proper information and resources necessary to make the most-informed decisions throughout their cancer journey. This service is completely free for any family able to be treated in the United States.

The program will:

  • Provide immediate support, with guaranteed response within 24 hours of initial contact
  • Ensure EVERY patient and/or family has the ability to access the information they need regardless of socioeconomic status or cultural ethnicity
  • Provide disease education to patients and/or families
  • Guide patients and/or families in identifying experienced DIPG or DMG physicians, according to patient’s location or preferred expertise preference
  • Provide encouragement and serve as a liaison to improve physician-patient interactions

My DIPG Navigator stems from the vision of Jace Ward, an amazing DIPG advocate who died of the disease in 2021. Jace thought all patients should be able to quickly access the most current information about best practices and DIPG/DMG treatment options.

Carli Kantra

2024 $100,000 Carli Kantra Memorial Grant

Each year Prayers From Maria raises $100,000 for a research grant with 100% of the funds donated through our Quarterly Giving Campaign. Watch Carli’s story and Donate Now. Sign up for our Newsletter at the bottom of the page to receive updates on grant progress.

Nicholas LucaLogan Massey

2023 $248,088 Nicholas Luca and Logan Massey Memorial Grant

This grant was given to Dr. Rintaro Hashizume at The Children’s hospital of Alabama to revolutionize treatments for brain tumors. Through his research, he is hoping to transform treatment and survival of children with pediatric high-grade gliomas by developing a new approach that can bypass the blood-brain barrier. 

Collin Nemet Grant

$100,000 Collin Nemet Memorial Grant

We were able to award this funding to Dr. Miriam Fouladi at Nationwide Children's Hospital and her esteemed team of researchers. Their CONNECT program takes a bold perspective on how to advance the identification of effective therapies for the most malignant tumors in pediatrics. 

Melana Matson Grant

$250,000 Melana Matson Memorial Grant

This funding was awarded to the Case Western Reserve University’s Case Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers. This grant supported the study of the use of nanotechnology to deliver more targeted and less toxic chemotherapy to brain tumors. This funding led to a newly designed nanoparticle and a $2.82 million National Institute of Health grant.

Brooks Blackmore Grant

$200,000 Brooks Blackmore Memorial Grant

This funding was given to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for a national clinical trial to deliver the most promising therapies for patients based on their genomics. This trial’s unique nature allows for new therapies to be incorporated as they are discovered and developed to help children battle the most aggressive brain tumors.

Josh Metzger Grant

$50,000 Josh Metzger Memorial Fox Trot Grant

This grant was given to the Cleveland Clinic to fund epigenetics research and develop new sets of treatments to improve the life expectancy in children with deadly brain tumors. This new research involved the identification of specific inhibitor molecules that would make radiation more effective in fighting brain cancer.

Jax Stone Grant

$250,000 Jax Stone Memorial Grant

This funding went to Washington University to study how sex differences in epigentics impacts the genesis of pediatric high-grade glioma. Success in this study will lead to the development of sex-specific epigenetic therapies for children with brain tumors to optimize efficacy and minimize the long-term consequences.

Kasey Mikes Grant

$80,000 Kasey Mikes Memorial Grant

The Kasey Mikes grant is the first young researcher grant. It is designed to provide desperately needed start-up-funds and to encourage top young talent to commit to a long-term focus on childhood brain cancer research. This grant was awarded to Carl Koschmann at the University of Michigan, who is studying the efficacy of new drugs with precision therapy and using new techniques to monitor the progress.

Kari McCloskey Grant

$50,000 Kari McCloskey Memorial Grant

These funds were given to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to continue to build on the groundbreaking findings derived from our last grant to Dana-Farber. With these funds, Dana-Farber will start identifying a series of agents that attack specific aspects of the glioma’s biology by utilizing experimental drugs on the newly discovered targets from the previous trial.

Abby Streszoff Grant

$500,000 Abby Streszoff Memorial Grant

This funding goes to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of Cincinnati, bringing together two most advanced pediatric neuro-oncology translational and clinical programs in the world. In collaboration with experts from England and Germany, this grant provides funding for a project that uses drugs to inhibit key molecules to reverse the effects of a specific mutation found in 30% of glioma tumors. The goal is to translate their findings into treating patients who need these therapies the most and study the prevention of resistance to these treatments.

*We are proud to say that only 8% goes to management/overhead! 

If you would like to help us answer Maria’s prayers and help find a cure for childhood brain cancer, please consider donating to the movement.

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2020 Dr. Carl Koschmann, Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist, Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan - Recipient of Prayers From Maria Foundation Kasey Mike Memorial Young Investigator Grant

Pediatric Brain Tumor Think Tank

Prayers From Maria sponsored a Pediatric Brain Tumor Think Tank in San Francisco where 27 of the world’s top pediatric physicians, researchers, and clinicians gathered with the purpose of encouraging innovation in the field of pediatric research. Inspired by this conference, Prayers From Maria announced a $500,000 grant to be awarded to the most compelling, collaborative research initiative. For the first time, we funded a grant that would require collaboration from more than one institution to advance research and lead to new and better treatments for children battling brain tumors. This grant is named in honor of little Abby Streszoff who died of a brain tumor at the age of 6.