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Give Kids A Smile® Ambassador Alumni Conference Aims to “Build a Better Give Kids A Smile”

August 25, 2015

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CHICAGO — The ADA Foundation last week hosted the first Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) Ambassador Alumni Conference to support the expansion of GKAS, through which more than five million underserved children have received oral health care and education since the program’s national launch in 2003. GKAS Ambassadors are graduates of the ADA Foundation’s GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute (GKAS Institute).

Colgate logo

Together with the ADA Foundation, ADA and sponsors Colgate-Palmolive and Henry Schein Cares, the event’s 18 Give Kids A Smile Ambassadors discussed best practices and considered ways to enhance the national GKAS program, all geared toward the 2016 kickoff in February during National Children’s Dental Health Month. The meeting theme was “Building a Better Give Kids A Smile.”

“Colgate-Palmolive has a strong commitment to improving the oral health of the public — especially children — and is proud to serve as a long-time national sponsor of Give Kids A Smile,” said Dr. Fotinos S. Panagakos, D.M.D., Ph.D., global director of scientific affairs, Colgate-Palmolive Company. “Effective education and expanding access to care are important public health priorities. Sharing best practices from these organizers and volunteers will make GKAS an even better program in the future, so we are pleased to support this innovative and important new symposium.”

“Bringing experienced GKAS organizers together is an excellent way to develop best practices for the thousands of events and their leaders that will be organized in the future,” noted Steven Kess, vice president of global professional relations for Henry Schein Inc.,  president of Henry Schein Cares Foundation, and founding chairman of the GKAS National Advisory Committee. “Each program has its own unique attributes to better serve the children in need in their community. The strength of the program is the similarities and differences each program incorporated into their planning. In the end they all achieve "giving kids a smile!"

Raymond Tseng, D.D.S., Ph.D., a GKAS Ambassador (2014) who runs a GKAS program in North Carolina, expressed his excitement to be part of a movement that helps so many children in need. “It brings together clinicians, community organizers, educators, the public, and public and private philanthropic organizations to make real and meaningful solutions to issues happening now.”

Since 2011, the GKAS Institute has hosted select GKAS program coordinators at an annual three-day session where they gain hands-on experience regarding how to initiate, enhance, or expand their existing GKAS program. The GKAS Institute is held in St. Louis during the longest-running annual GKAS event in the nation, now in its 14th year. These GKAS Ambassadors are then available to serve as regional resources for other GKAS coordinators. A list of prior GKAS Ambassadors is available at

“We are very proud of what the Give Kids A Smile program has done to improve the health of millions of children over the years,” said Reneida Reyes, D.D.S., M.P.H., president, ADA Foundation. “We want to make this an even bigger and better initiative in the future, and the key to that is to learn from the experiences of our volunteers who organize and carry out these events. We are very grateful for their time here, and for all that they do every year.”

To make a tax-deductible donation to the ADA Foundation to support Give Kids A Smile or other ADA Foundation efforts to improve the public’s oral health, visit or call 312.440.2547.

About the ADA Foundation

As dentistry’s premier philanthropic and charitable organization, the ADA Foundation is a catalyst for uniting people and organizations to make a difference through better oral health. In 2014, the ADA Foundation provided more than $1,335,000 in grants, scholarships, and awards to programs that are in alignment with the organization’s four mission pillars: Charitable Assistance, Access to Care, Research, and Education (C.A.R.E.). As part of these efforts, the ADA Foundation oversees Give Kids A Smile® and also oversees the Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center in Gaithersburg, MD (formerly the Paffenbarger Research Center). For more information about the ADA Foundation, visit

About Give Kids A Smile®
The ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program is one of the world’s largest oral health charitable programs. Launched nationally by the American Dental Association in 2003, Give Kids A Smile is an access-to-care endeavor designed to encourage parents, health professionals, and policymakers to address the year-round need for oral health care and education for all children. Each year the Give Kids A Smile program supports approximately 10,000 dentists, 30,000 dental team members, and other community volunteers in providing free oral health care services including exams, fluoride treatments, sealants, fillings, crowns, and extractions, to more than 350,000 children from low-income families across the country. To find out more about Give Kids A Smile, visit

About Colgate-Palmolive
Colgate-Palmolive is a leading global consumer products company, tightly focused on Oral Care, Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition. Colgate-Palmolive sells its products in over 200 countries and territories around the world under such internationally recognized brand names as Colgate, Palmolive, Mennen, Softsoap, Irish Spring, Protex, Sorriso, Kolynos, Elmex, Tom’s of Maine, Sanex, Ajax, Axion, Soupline, and Suavitel, as well as Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet. For more information about Colgate-Palmolive’s global business, visit the Company’s web site at To learn more about Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures®, Colgate’s global oral health education program, please visit

About the Henry Schein Cares Foundation
Established in 2008, the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, carries out its mission through financial and health care product donations that support health care professionals and community-based programs focused on prevention, wellness, treatment, and education; disaster preparedness and relief; and capacity building of health institutions that provide training and care. To learn more about the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, please visit: