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ADA Foundation’s semi-annual grants spread smiles

March 10, 2016

By David Burger

Photo of Dr. David Collier with his patient
All smiles: Pediatric dentist Dr. David Collier gives a thumbs-up after a positive postoperative checkup at the Northern Dental Access Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. The center received a $10,000 grant from the ADA Foundation.
Bemidji, Minn. — Once front-office workers at the Northern Dental Care heard that they received the grant, they got excited and knew what they had to do immediately. They started calling people on their charity care waiting list, some of whom had been waiting for weeks.

That was just one of the ways the ADA Foundation’s semi-annual grants helped the 2015 recipients of the program. In November, the Foundation awarded 11 organizations across the country grants of up to $10,000, for a total of $108,376.

Through the Semi-annual Grants Program, the Foundation provides grants of up to $10,000 to U.S.-based organizations whose charitable activities further the Foundation’s purposes of improving access to oral health care. Access to care is one of the four pillars of the Foundation.

The Northern Dental Care Center in northern, rural Minnesota is 100 miles from the Canadian border and centrally located to three Native American reservations, said Jeanne Edevold Larson, executive director of the center. The center logged 17,000 patient appointments in 2015, with 43 percent children and 23 percent Native American.

Northern Dental has been able to provide needed dental care to thousands of low-income families over the past seven years, 98 percent of whom are enrolled in Medicaid. As a safety net clinic, the patients they serve represent some of the most vulnerable and at-risk people in the poor community, and the clinic aims to serve even those who aren’t enrolled in Medicaid, Ms. Larson said.

With the $10,000 grant, the clinic aims to double the number of patients it sees on a charity basis — those not on Medicaid for a variety of reasons and with no means to pay for the services. “We don’t want to turn anyone away,” Ms. Larson said.

Another organization that received a $10,000 grant was Dental Care In Your Home, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The group provides access to dental care for homebound and special needs individuals of all ages, said founder Cathy Elliott.

More than 59 percent of the patients it sees are over the ages of 80, with 80 percent of the patients homebound, Ms. Elliott said. “People are living longer and keeping their teeth longer,” she said.

The organization hopes to serve more than 1,000 people in the area in 2016, and they can provide basic dental care for one patient for every $100 of grant money received, Ms. Elliott said. The organization also purchased a laptop that will aid the dental teams, since the teams travel and treat in mobile clinics.

The other nine organizations, with the name of the project, location and grant amount listed, are:

  • Assistance League of San Pedro-South Bay, “Providing Access to Dental Care for Low-income Children,” San Pedro, California, $10,000;
  • Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation, “AzMOM Dental Clinic,” Phoenix, Arizona, $10,000;
  • First Health of the Carolinas Dental Care Center, “Early Morning Smiles,” Southern Pines, North Carolina, $8,376;
  • Florida Dental Association Foundation, “Florida Mission of Mercy – Jacksonville,” Tallahassee, Florida, $10,000;
  • Mission Lexington, “Mission Lexington Outreach Dental Services,” Lexington, Kentucky, $10,000;
  • Partnership Health Center, “PHC’s Lowell School Health Center Dental Clinic: Access to Oral Health Care,” Missoula, Montana, $10,000;
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham/Fair Haven Oral Health Center, “Improving Elders’ Access to Oral Health Care Through Community Outreach,” Birmingham, Alabama, $10,000;
  • Watts Healthcare Corporation, “Promoting Oral Health in South Los Angeles,” Los Angeles, California, $10,000;
  • Waukesha County Community Dental Clinic, “Increasing Access to Affordable Oral Health Services for Low-income Families in Waukesha County,” Waukesha, Wisconsin, $10,000.

The application for the Semi-annual Grant Program with a focus on access to care will be available again on the first Friday of April. The application deadline is the last Friday in July. The Foundation hopes to announce the grantees in November or December.

The Foundation also offers a Semi-annual Grant Program that supports U.S.-based nonprofit organizations working to improve the public’s oral health through education. The application period for that program opens Oct. 7.

For more on the grant program, visit and under the “How to Apply” tab at the top of the page, select “Access to Care.”