2021 Community Grant Winners

The Illinois State Dental Society Foundation recently announced the winners of the 2021 Community Grant Awards.  The grant program attracted the interest of 20 worthwhile organizations that are actively working to expand access to oral health care services to needy individuals around the state. This year $100,000 in grant monies were awarded to thirteen organizations for projects designed to provide access to dental care and increase oral health awareness and education.  

Applications were evaluated according to the following guidelines:

• Congruence of the project to the mission of the ISDS Foundation
• Potential for, or history of, continuous program operations
• An increase in oral health awareness among those reached by the project
• Potential impact on a target community or audience
• Potential enhanced efficiency by which oral health services are delivered

After careful review, the grant review committee selected the following winners: 

Southern Illinois University Senior Smiles Program ($4500)
Click here to see video for both of SIU's programs.

The specific objectives of the program are to provide restorative services to senior adults (65 and older) in southern Illinois. Our primary focus this year will be the senior adults (65 and older) who are covered under Medicare (which does not include preventive services) and do not have any other dental insurance and/or on a limited fixed income. We want to ensure these patients receive optimum treatment that will improve their oral health and overall health. Another objective is to provide a dental home within our local community to have their restorative and/or other oral health needs met.

Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University, Give Adults a Smile Day ($4000)
The need addressed is the adult population in southern Illinois that may be on a fixed or a very limited income. Most of the patients that come to the SIU Dental Hygiene Clinic do not have any type of dental insurance. The plan is to treat approximately 160 adults over the summer semester. This will strictly cover fees for preventive procedures and no other costs will be covered through the grant except commodities (supplies, disposables, OH aids). The services will be performed June 1 through August 31, 2021.

Well Child Center, First Tooth Visit Program ($10,000)
Click here to see video.
Well Child Center’s (WCC) Pediatric Dental Clinic and First Tooth Visit Program provide comprehensive preventative and restorative dental care for low-income children at low- or no-cost. WCC’s dental team prevents tooth decay in underserved populations by providing dental education, early treatment, establishing a regular schedule of dental check-ups, and being our patients’ dental home. WCC’s unique initiative, the First Tooth Visit Program seeks to eliminate early childhood caries (ECC) in Elgin area low-income children by serving as their Dental Home.

Sonrisa Urbana, No Smile Left Behind ($10,000)
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Our office provides a dental home in a low socio-economic community with a high population of patients with Medicaid. The objective of our project is to educate patients on proper brushing techniques, nutrition, and increase overall dental IQ. Long term we hope to create a dental home for patients that have Medicaid dental benefits. Part of ensuring that patients, especially children, fully grasp brushing/flossing techniques is through demonstration. Explanation alone is not sufficient for a child, or even an adult, who has never been shown how to properly brush or floss their teeth, to learn how to do so. The funds that are being requested should provide hygiene goods for the community of Little Village for at least 5 years. Once the funds have been expended, Sonrisa Urbana will continue to be a dental home for the residents of Little Village, providing dental education and a high level of preventative care.

Town of Cicero Health Department, Dental Clinic Upgrades ($10,000)
Click here to see video.
The Town of Cicero Health Department serves the residents of Cicero. The patient population comprises of a predominantly Hispanic population that is underserved. Many of these residents are uninsured, undocumented, and otherwise unable to see a conventional dentist. Often times, patients do not have the financial means to pursue dental care. Our fee schedule offers discounted rates for town residents and further discounted treatment option for our senior residents. Our dental clinic sees patients of all ages three and up. Advanced cases are referred to UIC and local specialists.

With more than one provider the current compressor is unable to carry the load and stay functional.  A compressor is highly essential for the functionality of our clinic and as we have been closed during Covid and only just ramping up our patient care, there are many patients waiting to be seen. We have a waitlist of about 300 for new patients. For this reason, any grants awarded will be primarily applied towards a new compressor to accommodate the 3 operatories. Remaining funds will be applied towards digitizing the current radiography equipment

Foster Family Resource Center of Southern Illinois, Dental Care for Foster Children ($10,000)
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The Foster Family Resource Center (FFRCSI) is running a dental care program aimed to helping foster children in accessing dental care in Southern Illinois, where the need for support is great. There are currently more than 1,400 children in foster care placements within the 22 counties served by the FFRCSI. For many foster families, obtaining dental care for the children in their care involves either long waits for the child to see a dentist or extensive travel outside of our area. FFRCSI will help facilitate and pay for essential treatment delivered by local dental offices.

Heartland Head Start, Oral Health Promotion Program ($4500)
Click here to see video. 

The HHS Oral Health Promotion Program will target the low-income population in Mclean and Livingston County, specifically children ages 6-weeks-5 years old, pregnant women, and their families who are enrolled in the Heartland Head Start program. HHS's Oral Health Promotion initiative will serve up to 275 children ages 6 weeks-5years old and their families, a total of approximately400 children and adults.

By developing a quarterly system of lessons that will serve both the child and the parent, HHS will also support the ISDSF Mission by providing continual education around oral health topics. To promote toothbrushing practices, HHS's Oral Health Promotion Program will also provide toothbrushes for children to brush their teeth in the classroom setting after each meal and provide toothbrushing materials to home-based children. By replacing old toothbrushes every 3 months we decrease the spread of germs and promote healthy dental habits.

Heartland Health Centers, Dental Sensor for Low-Income Pediatric Patients ($7000)
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Heartland Health Centers will purchase a pediatric dental sensor for use at its Wilson Avenue clinic to: 1) Increase the number of low-income children screened for dental disease each year; and 2) Enhance the quality of oral health services delivered by limiting pediatric exposure to high radiation doses, making young patients feel more comfortable, and using digital radiology as a teaching tool to help parents (especially the low health literate) understand recommended treatment.

HHC’s service area is comprised of 23 contiguous zip codes within the city of Chicago. The majority of patients live within low income areas which are medically underserved and have a health professional shortage.

Hult Center for Healthy Living
“Tooth or Consequences” Dental Health Education for Pre-K Children ($5000)
Click here to see video.
Dental health was ranked among the top ten health concerns among respondents in the Peoria Tri-County area, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment (2019). This assessment also noted significant Social Determinants of Health as is relates to dental health, as it was determined that dental care tends to be lower for Black people, Latino people, and Peoria County residents. This program aims to provide dental health education and resources to pre-k students at risk for poor dental health; 1,000 students will benefit from this program.

Mobile Care Chicago, Mobile Dental Program ($10,000)
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Mobile Care Chicago requests funding for its Mobile Dental Program. This program provides oral care and education in under served communities in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. The program needs funding to offset Medicaid reimbursements for restorations, as well as annual cleaning and exams for uninsured families.

Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois Foundation, Pilsen Clinic ($5000) 
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University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry, in partnership with Oral Health Forum (OHF) – a Chicago-based community organization – are partnering to deliver community-based oral care disease management and prevention services. The delivery model focuses on aggressive oral disease prevention and health promotion, with a primary focus on health outcomes. This collaborative effort seeks to reduce oral health disparities in the Pilsen neighborhood and to increase access to care for some 800 low-income families in the first year of the grant. The funds will be used to purchase equipment to provide the necessary preventive services.

Refugee One, Dental Clinic ($10,000)
Click here to see video.
Since 1982, RefugeeOne has welcomed more than 18,000 refugees, helping them adjust to life in the U.S., strengthen their families, and become self-reliant. As Chicago’s largest full service resettlement agency, RefugeeOne welcomes newly arrived refugees at O’Hare and provides initial housing support, English Language Training, employment assistance, youth programming, wellness services, and more.

Refugees often arrive in the U.S. in need of oral health care, many having never visited a dentist. Once in the U.S., they have limited access to affordable dental care. RefugeeOne’s objective is to utilize its 4-chair Dental Clinic to provide free comprehensive and preventative dental care and oral health education to underserved refugees. Through these services, refugees will receive the dental care they could not otherwise afford and consequently will experience improved overall health.

The Ark, Minnie & Dr. Peter H. Okner, DDS Dental Clinic ($10,000)
Click here to see video.
Treatment in the Dental Clinic is integrated with primary health care, as overseen by the Clinical Director of the Ark. Under the ARK's model of wraparound care, all other needs, including mental health treatment, housing, food access, financial assistance, and more are also integrated with dental treatment. Our primary goal is to resolve our patients’ dental problems, and in conjunction with health care services and other ARK services, restore our patients’ oral health. This is a critical component of our clients’ overall well-being and progress in other areas. We have found that patients who have good experiences in the Dental Clinic tend to have an improved interest in their physical health as well. They are then more likely to keep appointments, demonstrate better oral hygiene, take medications as prescribed, and follow the recommendations of medical and dental staff. The specific objectives of the grant are to improve patients’ attitude toward dental care, reduce pain and symptoms of oral problems and improve our patients’ oral health maintenance behavior.

Applications for the next round of grants will be available in the spring of 2022. The ISDS Foundation Community Grants initiative, which began in 2006, is made possible because of the generous support of Illinois dentists and other ISDS Foundation donors.