A groundswell of local leaders in community oral health
The DentaQuest Foundation is taking a major step to launch a national movement to reverse profound oral health disparities in the United States by awarding 20 state organizations funding and resources through its “Oral Health 2014 Initiative.”
The DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2014 Initiative is putting oral health at the top of the public health agenda in 20 states. Partners include non-profit organizations from Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
“This is a really important moment for oral health,” said Ralph Fuccillo, president of the DentaQuest Foundation. “These 20 state organizations enhance the national movement of collaborative leaders who are embracing the challenge and the opportunity to address oral health disparities in their communities.”
Nearly 70 organizations expressed interest in the Oral Health 2014 initiative and its objectives. Thirty-six organizations were invited to submit full proposals.
According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, nearly 5 million children went without regular dental checkups in 2008 because of financial limitations, and 33.3 million Americans live in an area with a shortage of dental professionals. The multi-year Oral Health 2014 Initiative aims to eliminate such disparities by supporting organizations who are building community partnerships.
All proposals were reviewed to evaluate their fit with the selection criteria. A distinguished National Advisory Committee of leaders in community health, philanthropy, civic engagement, and members of the founding board of the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance provided guidance to the DentaQuest Foundation in the development of the program and the selection of grantees. They are:
- Dr. Caswell Evans of the University of Illinois, DentaQuest Foundation Board of Directors and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
- Paul Gilmer of Triana Energy and a member of the National Community Committee of the CDC Prevention Research Centers
- Dr. Leslie E. Grant of the National Dental Association and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
- Marion Kane, formerly of Barr Foundation and currently on the Board of the Directors for the DentaQuest Foundation
- Dr. Dushanka Kleinman of the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
- Barbara Leonard of the Maine Health Access Foundation
- Sandra Owens Lawson of CRP Corp.
- Dr. Lindsey Robinson of the California Dental Association Foundation and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
- Dr. Donna Shelley of New York University School of Nursing and Dentistry
The selected organizations were the most successful in demonstrating an ability to engage multiple partners – those typically involved in oral health as well as less traditional stakeholders – in their communities. They made a clear commitment to key oral health priorities and demonstrated the capability to deliver on the proposed plans.
Each organization will now develop an action plan to address one or more of six oral health improvement areas that were identified at a 2009 national meeting on oral health access and which now also guide the newly formed U.S. National Oral Health Alliance:
- prevention and public health infrastructure
- oral health literacy
- medical/dental collaboration
- developing metrics for improving oral health
- financing models
- strengthening the dental care delivery system
“The high level of interest in improving oral health across the United States can be seen in the enthusiastic response to this initiative,” said Patrick Finnerty, senior advisor for State Oral Health Programs for the DentaQuest Foundation. “The DentaQuest Foundation will continue to look for ways to support community leaders in their important work to make oral health a public health priority. We encourage every group who was interested in Oral Health 2014 to stay active as oral health advocates by contributing their talents and enthusiasm to the work of the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance which is tackling the same priority areas at the national level.”
About the DentaQuest Foundation
The DentaQuest Foundation (dentaquestfoundation.org) invests in national and community-based efforts to improve oral health for all through its support of prevention and access to oral health care, and through its partnerships with funders, policy makers, and community leaders. The DentaQuest Foundation is supported by DentaQuest, a leading oral health company, administering prevention-focused dental benefits to nearly 15 million individuals across the United States. DentaQuest is a partner in the community and committed to improving oral health through access, innovation and affordability.