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Esperança Receives $35,000 Grant from Thunderbirds Charities for Oral Health Education Program
By Rayna Burgett - Tuesday Mar 21, 2023
(PHOENIX – March 21, 2023) – Esperança, a Phoenix-based nonprofit whose mission is to build optimal social, mental, and physical health in under-resourced communities, has been awarded a $35,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The funds will be used to support the organization’s Children’s Oral Health Education Program, teaching under-resourced Latino children (pre-school - Grade 8) living in Maricopa County, about the importance of good oral health, the need for routine dental visits, and proper daily oral hygiene practices. Esperança will provide 4,000 children, who are at risk of poor oral health (and other health issues as a result), with the education needed to improve their daily oral hygiene practices.

“Thanks to the generosity of The Thunderbirds and Thunderbirds Charities, Esperança’s bilingual and bicultural educators will conduct oral health education programs at Title I schools located in predominantly Latino communities throughout the Valley,” says Jeri Royce, President & CEO of Esperança. “This is just one example of how this generous support from Thunderbirds Charities will help us continue our mission to combat poor oral health, obesity and diabetes through our bilingual health education programs.”

In Arizona, nearly 60% of children coming into kindergarten have cavities – that’s twice the national average, and Mexican/Hispanic children have the highest percentages (41%) of untreated tooth decay among children, according to a Pew Foundation study.

“We know that poor oral health in children has long-term effects as they age and risks of serious illnesses such as cardio-vascular disease or certain types of cancer can occur,” continued Royce. “The pain from poor oral health also affects children’s ability to concentrate in school, resulting in increased absences, lower scholastic achievement, dropping out of school, and lower earning potential as adults.”

Esperança’s bilingual and bicultural educators’ partner with Title I schools such as Tolleson, Roosevelt, Wilson, Osborn, Creighton, and Murphy School Districts and will deliver oral health education to children to stress the importance of good oral health, the need for routine dental visits, and proper daily oral hygiene practices. Educators demonstrate how to properly brush and floss, and after the presentation, every program participant will receive a Smile Bag that includes an age-appropriate toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss.

Through the program, Esperança will also provide referrals to culturally appropriate and low/no-cost dental clinics, such as the Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics for children to receive the dental care they desperately need.

For more information about Esperança, please visit:

About Esperança
Derived from the Portuguese word for “hope,” Esperança has been dedicated to transforming lives since its inception in 1970. Now celebrating 53 years of service this year, globally Esperança works within under-resourced communities in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mozambique and Peru, providing health education, food security, disease prevention, access to clean water, ecological home-building and life-altering surgeries. Further, the organization also serves under-resourced children, adults and seniors in Maricopa County through programs such as oral health, chronic disease prevention/management and nutrition education, and healthy meal delivery. For more information, please visit:

About the Thunderbirds/Thunderbirds Charities
Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix. The Thunderbirds Charities Board consists of 15 board members from varying professional backgrounds. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 285 “life” members. For more information on the Thunderbirds or the Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit For more information on the Thunderbirds Charities, visit