The Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation unveiled its “SMILES: POSSIBLE” campaign, a $1.3 million grant initiative aimed at improving Arkansans’ oral health. The new program is part of the foundation’s five-year strategic plan to transform communities and lives through oral health education, prevention and treatment.
Eligible Arkansas-based organizations are encouraged to apply for funding now through December 16 at this link.
“Good oral hygiene is critical to residents’ overall well-being. Yet Arkansas consistently falls in the lowest ranks for oral health,” said Chrissy Chatham, executive director of the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation. “This new grant program allows us to take a bite out of dental decay and gum disease in adults and increase preventive services, including exams, cleanings, and fluoride varnish, for children and adolescents in low-income households to significantly improve the health of all Arkansans.”
The Foundation established SMILES: POSSIBLE to align with key metrics of Healthy People 2020: Arkansas’s Chronic Disease Framework for Action. Specifically, the program seeks to fund 12-month projects that:
· Reduce the proportion of Arkansas adults with untreated dental decay or periodontal disease
· Increase the proportion of children and adolescents in low-income households in the state who receive preventive dental care.
The Foundation will announce SMILES: POSSIBLE grant recipients in June 2020.
In addition to SMILES: POSSIBLE, the Foundation provides ongoing “Mini Grants” of up to $2,500 for oral health projects and “Community Grants” of up to $30,000 to help improve access to preventative oral health services and treatments in underserved areas.
It also funds “Super Smiles at School,” a mini-grants program that partners with early childhood centers and public schools to expand oral health education and treatment.
Throughout its history, the Foundation has supported free and low-cost clinics, mobile dental units, student loan reimbursements and invested in Interprofessional Education at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to incorporate oral health education into the school’s health curriculums.
“Right now, Arkansas is ranked as one of the worst states in the U.S. for oral health. At the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation, we’re committed to changing that,” Chatham said. “With our new $1.3-million grant program, SMILES: POSSIBLE, the foundation hopes to give children in Arkansas the best chance possible for a cavity-free life through access to preventive services and help reduce tooth decay and periodontal disease in adults which improves their oral and physical health.”
“Now through December 16, we encourage Arkansas-based organizations to visit our website, read the Request for Solutions and apply for funding to help improve oral health in our state,” she said.