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DTA Foundation/Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation Recipient Taylor Rae Vracar, University of Florida

“My practice will be centered around a connection I have with a missionary from India. His name is Missionary Sam and he is part of an organization called Life for the Innocent. Missionary Sam and Life for the Innocent rescue children who would normally be sold into the child sex and labor slavery industry and aids in their rehabilitation as they recover from the traumatic experiences they have endured,” Vracar said. “This organization is committed to not only rescuing children from a life of abuse and providing shelter, food, clothing, medical attention, and education, but they are also completely devoted to presenting the children with the gift of salvation and hope that comes from Jesus Christ.“

DTA Foundation Scholarship Recipient Cayla Ray, Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health – A.T. Still University

“While many things have changed in my life, there is one thing has remained the same, and that is my love for helping others,” Ray said. “I never imagined that I would have accomplished as much as I have in such little time; and while getting into dental school has been one of my greatest accomplishments, I am more proud of the privileges that come with the title. As a pre-clinic dental student, I will continue to provide patient education and free dental supplies whenever possible. Upon entering clinic, I will strive to educate patients and provide the best care possible to those in need; and when graduation comes, I will search for a place that needs my knowledge and expertise. Dental school may be my greatest feat thus far, however, I am confident that it is but a stepping-stone to far greater accomplishments as a dentist in my community.”

Thanks to your unwavering dedication and support, the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation is proud to celebrate 15 years of funding grants that have positively impacted hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The Foundation was established in 2000 after the publication of Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. In 2002, in conjunction with the Santa Fe Group, the Foundation funded the first of many research and service-oriented projects. Thanks to your generous pledges and donations, as well as your support of the annual DTA Foundation Auction, that number has grown to more than $2 million in grants and scholarships to 62 dental students and 92 oral health programs.

DTA Foundation grants provide seed funding to innovative pilot projects designed to broaden awareness of oral health's impact on overall health and increase access to oral health care for the growing number of Americans in need. The scholarships, established in 2012 thanks to a $250,000 donation from The Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation, recognizes dental students who have an established commitment to community service by providing $5,000 in financial support to rising third or fourth year dental students who have demonstrated academic excellence in dentistry, financial need and a commitment to community service.

This text will be replaced with the slideshowThe DTA Foundation was nominated and selected as a 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Champion for Kids Award presented by CF Charities. This award is given to those who have demonstrated a strong commitment to help local organizations, under-served communities and schools improve the lives of young people, and expand CF Charities' promise of fueling bright futures. DTA Foundation Executive Director Laura Doyle and Board of Directors Chairman Paul Hinsch attended the 2017 CF Charities Fueling Bright Futures for Kids Gala in June to accept the award.

This text will be replaced with the slideshowA current Dental Trade Alliance Foundation grantee,The Altarum, has helped nearly 33,000 kids in 30 states improve their oral health through their SmileConnect® program --thanks, in large part, to your donations to the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation.

“Support from DTA Foundation has allowed the SmileConnect community to move outside of Michigan, officially launching our nationwide expansion,” said Haley McDermott, Altarum’s Center for Implementation Science philanthropic outreach coordinator. “With DTAF’s support, the SmileConnect community has developed strong partnerships with dental and dental hygiene schools, oral health manufacturers, and philanthropic organizations- relationships critical to addressing each state’s unique oral health climate and needs. ... All of this was possible because of DTAF’s support, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Helping older adults in nursing homes maintain good oral health can be a challenge--one that Foundation for Quality Care addressed with its Mouth Care Without a Battle program, which benefited from a $25,000 DTA Foundation grant in 2015. Since then, the program has helped train caregivers in more than 20 facilities.

Thanks to a $25,000 DTA Foundation grant in 2015, Kids Smiles, which serves low-income, at-risk children in underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods, has been able to implement the Electronic Oral Health Screening System to benefit kids’ oral health.

“Over 90% of Kids Smiles’ patients are insured by Medicaid, CHIP, or are completely uninsured,” said Kids Smiles CEO Cheryl Janssen. “While the Electronic Oral Health Screening System (EOHSS) pilot project participants were Kids Smiles patients, the goal of the project is to create a consistent, uniform screening process that will be used on all children nationwide.”

“The most significant outcome of the project other than the tremendous learnings that took place at the training events, was the conversion of the first Smile Generation-supported dental practice dedicated to treating patients with special needs,” said Ms. Vartanian. “This completely sensory integrated practice will now have the capacity to support individuals with not only intellectual disabilities, but those with physical ones as well.”

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More than 3,600 families had a little something extra at bedtime thanks to the New Jersey Department of Health, Children's Oral Health Program and a $25,000 grant from the DTA Foundation in 2015.

“Bedtime Bytes (BB) was an interactive oral health project that was implemented at two Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and the College of New Jersey/School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Science,” said Beverly Kupiec-Sce, Ph.D., R.N., director of the children’s oral health program. “The goals were to increase oral health literacy, assist in establishing a dental home, and improve the oral health status of high-risk children.Oral health training was conducted for a multi-disciplinary staff of pediatricians, family practice physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered and licensed practical nurses and medical assistants. A training was also conducted for senior-level community health nursing students at the College of New Jersey.”

Dr. Debra Peterson’s commitment to community volunteering helped single her out to the DTA Foundation Scholarship Committee, which awarded her a scholarship in 2015. Recently we caught up with her to find out where she is now in her career and what the future holds for her.

What are your three biggest takeaways from dental school as you move forward with your career?