DentaQuest to fund next round of oral health initiative

2011 10 17 12 51 07 544 Jigsaw Puzzle 70

Nearly a year after awarding 20 state organizations funding and resources to help reverse oral health disparities in the U.S. through the Oral Health 2014 Initiative, the DentaQuest Foundation is gearing up to fund the next round of state-based initiatives.

Partners in the first phase of the initiative, announced in October 2011, included nonprofit organizations from Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“I feel really good about the way the state organizations have been able to engage a diversity of stakeholders.”
— Michael Monopoli, DMD, MPH, director
     of policy and planning, DentaQuest

These organizations received up to $100,000 plus additional resources to bring together key stakeholders in their areas and develop a two-year plan to move their oral health projects forward.

To qualify for the second round of funding, the 20 organizations have been working to develop action plans to address one or more of six oral health improvement areas identified at a 2009 national meeting on oral health access:

  • 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

Over the past year they participated in a series of meetings and webinars sponsored by the DentaQuest Foundation designed to provide technical and infrastructure assistance in developing their action plans.

"At the end of that process we asked them to give us a plan for the implementation phase over the next year," said Michael Monopoli, DMD, MPH, director of policy and planning for the foundation. "We have asked for proposals in the $150,000 per year range, and we now have 20 proposals from the states. Our plan is to fund 17 of the 20. We wanted to make sure there was competition involved in the process."

Following an extensive review in September by the foundation's grant review team and board, as well as a group of national advisors, DentaQuest will announce the winning proposals. The foundation will then hold a meeting in October to bring all of the grantees together.

"I feel really good about the way the state organizations have been able to engage a diversity of stakeholders," Dr. Monopoli said. "The vision of this initiative was to develop a group of constituents that would be self-sustaining and a group that could work together and move forward. There has also been a good broadening of engagement of the less usual partners on the projects -- groups like AARP and other types of providers that normally aren't around the table around oral health."

According to a 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 multiyear Oral Health 2014 Initiative aims to eliminate such disparities by supporting organizations that are building community partnerships.

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