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Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation Awards More Than $740,000 in Local Grants
By Alison Bailin - Tuesday Feb 21, 2023
Delta Dental of Arizona, through its Foundation, has awarded grants to 33 non-profit organizations that are working to increase access to oral health services and provide nutritional programs for underserved populations across Arizona. These funds, totaling $743,536, were awarded to support projects and services promoting good oral health practices and increasing access to dental care among underserved children, pregnant women, seniors and – for the first time – adults.

“We expanded our guidelines this year to include non-dental programs, specifically nutritional access programs such as food banks, after-school and weekend food programs for children, and senior delivery programs,” says Barb Kozuh, executive director of the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation. “We were thrilled to see the response from these organizations.”

Grants were awarded via two funding categories: Community Grants and IMPACT Grants.

“Our Foundation board was intentional in updating our guidelines,” says Michael Jones, president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Arizona and president of the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation. “There are thousands of individuals in our community that struggle with food insecurity daily. These individuals and their families likely also have unmet dental needs, and without access to proper nutrition no amount of preventative care or education can protect them from long-term oral health issues.”

Community grants ranging from $5,000 to $30,000, as well as dental supplies as needed, were presented to 30 Arizona nonprofits, including:

• A New Leaf
• Adelante Healthcare
• Arizona Dental Foundation
• A.T. Still University Clinical Education and Outreach Clinic
• Back to School Clothing Drive
• Children's Museum of Phoenix
• Chiricahua Community Health Center
• City of Chandler Public Housing
• Coconino County Cooperative Extension
• Coconino County Health and Human Services
• Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
• Dental Lifeline Network
• Desert Senita Dental Center
• Diana Gregory Outreach Services
• Dignity Health Foundation
• Flagstaff Medical Children's Health Center
• Gila County Health & Emergency Management
• Kitchen on the Street
• Live and Learn
• Marana Healthcare
• Midwestern University
• National Kidney Foundation
• North Country Community Health Center
• Prescott Community Cupboard
• Southwest Human Development
• Sun Life Health
• Tucson Children's Museum
• UMOM New Day Centers
• Valley of the Sun YMCA
• Verde Valley Medical Center

The Delta Dental IMPACT Grant program, which began in 2020, awards organizations two-year grants totaling $100,000 each, with $50,000 awarded each year. Nonprofits invited to apply for these grants provide oral health services and education to more than 650 children, pregnant women or seniors and have a proven record of fiscal and reporting responsibility.

The 2022-2023 IMPACT recipients, receiving a second $50,000 investment in year two of the funding cycle, are:
• Esperança’s Arizona Oral Health Education Program, which educates children in Title 1 schools and various day care centers across the Valley about the importance of proper daily hygiene practices, proper brushing/flossing techniques and the need for routine dental visits. Esperança provides each participant with a Smile Bag that containing an age-appropriate toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, as well as referrals to dental providers who offer dental care at reduced/no cost.
• Tooth BUDDS, which is a group of affiliated dental practice hygienists who serve the children of Graham and Greenlee counties by providing dental screenings, dental cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish, Silver Diamine Fluoride applications at no cost at the school location.
• El Rio Health Center’s Pediatric Dental Integration Program expands direct dental screening, varnish and oral health education during children’s medical well visits by embedding dental hygiene teams in five El Rio Health clinic locations throughout Tucson.

The grant program is just one of the many ways Delta Dental of Arizona works to improve the oral health of Arizonans. In January 2023, Delta Dental of Arizona announced a partnership with Great Arizona Puppet Theater to make oral health education more accessible and fun for children through the creation of a traveling puppet show that will perform at Title One schools and daycare centers statewide over the next two years. The program anticipates educating nearly 13,000 children through approximately 160 shows each year across Northern, Central, and Southern Arizona. In 2022, Delta Dental of Arizona partnered with Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) to release the “Mouth-Healthy Cookbook.” The free cookbook made in collaboration with nutritionists and oral health experts features nearly two dozen easy-to-make recipes that promote whole-person health for the entire family. The book, available in English and Spanish, includes kid-friendly instructions for many of the recipes to encourage time in the kitchen together.

“Also in 2022, the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation began a partnership with Arizona PBS on an educational outreach program to promote good oral health to children in rural communities across the state. The statewide campaign boosts family involvement in good oral health practices, focusing on the importance of brushing twice a day, changing toothbrushes regularly and visiting the dentist twice a year,” says Kozuh.

Delta Dental of Arizona has strategic partnerships with Arizona organizations that share its desire to improve lives and promote optimal oral health.

“Delta Dental partners with A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, Banner University Medical Center, Pacific Dental Services Foundation Dentists for Special Needs, St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Northern Arizona University College of Dental Hygiene, to name a few, to provide underserved communities with oral health education, oral disease prevention and access to dental care, because we believe everyone deserves it,” says Jones.