Sure, men need to groom themselves to be appealing to the opposite sex, as one recent study found that 44% of women are bothered by untouched nose, ear, or eyebrow hair, but there’s more to it than that. In fact, seeing a barber may be life saving.

The University of Maryland’s one-of-a-kind outreach program HAIR, or Health In-Reach and Research Initiative, trains barbers to teach clients about colorectal cancer, and the ways it can be prevented.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer rates are highest amongst the African-American community, which is also the community whose members are most likely to die from the disease, too.

Recently, the initiative received a $200,000 grant from the Cigna Foundation, a charitable organization that’s part of the Cigna health insurance network, so that HAIR could expand to 10 more barbershops in Maryland.

The program is particularly interesting, because although barbershops are not typically the type of place that would be associated with healthcare, they’re actually perfect places to reach the oft under-served African American community. In fact, that’s precisely why behavioral scientist Stephen Thomas developed the HAIR initiative. Typically in African American communities, barber shops are social hubs, and the employees have trusting relationships with clients. Offering health advice there would not only seem perfectly normal, but also be taken seriously.

“No self-respecting black barber says they’ll get you in and out in 15 minutes,” Thomas, who now heads the University of Maryland’s Center for Health Equity, told the Washington Post. “You are going to be there for a half a day and it doesn’t matter how little hair you have.”

In addition to having a direct impact on clients, the HAIR initiative is also designed to have a ripple effect. An 18-year-old doesn’t need to worry about getting a colonoscopy, but perhaps his father or uncle should make an appointment.

“We need to get out of the Ivory Towers and meet people where they live, where they worship, where they play and where they get their haircuts,” Thomas told the Washington Post. “We realize we are not reaching the people who need to hear our message.”