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Community-Based Dental Care: An Alternative Approach to Improve Access to Dental Providers

Course Number: 552

Funding Source and Grantsmanship

Providing community-based care may require someone on the dental team to write a grant to secure start-up funding for purchasing equipment and supplies. Dental professionals need to recognize writing a grant takes time and planning. It is a skill that is not quickly learned. It is important to have knowledge of the literature, current evidence-based practices, and the target population in addition to having a detailed, accurate budget. The dental team must read the funding criteria carefully to make sure they meet all of the qualifications to apply. Often funders will only award grants to non-for-profit organizations; therefore, individuals may need to identify a fiscal agent to receive and distribute funds. The proposal guidelines must be read carefully and followed precisely. Most funding organizations will disqualify proposals that do not meet the guidelines. Figure 4 provides resources for additional grant writing training.

Figure 4. Additional grant writing training.

Organization NameWebsiteDescription
Candid Learning (formerly the Foundation Center and GuideStar)https://candid.org/Offers resources to research and verify nonprofits, find grant funding, identify resources in your community, find data, explore global issues, improve your nonprofit, and share information about your program.
W.K. Kellogg Foundationhttps://www.wkkf.org/resource-directory/resources/2017/11/wk-kellogg-foundation-step-by-step-guide-to-evaluation“The Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluation”
Minnesota Council on Foundationshttp://www.mcf.org/nonprofits/successful-grant-proposal“Writing a Successful Grant Proposal" provides an overview of the key components of a grant proposal and tips on how to present your case effectively.

Figure 5 provides a list of national organizations that afford grant funding. In addition to using this list as a resource, grantees will also want to pursue local opportunities. Local foundations are typically smaller and often limit funding to specific regions. It takes time to find a funding organization whose mission aligns with a community-based project. Proposals are typically accepted within a specific window of time and grant writers may only have a few weeks to write the proposal. When someone on the dental team is looking for a grant, they need to be constantly on the lookout for funding opportunities. It is helpful to discuss the proposed project with potential funding organizations prior to submitting a grant proposal. Building relationships with key personnel is helpful for aligning your project with the funders needs. Figure 6 defines common grant terms that individuals will encounter and they are investigating grant opportunities and writing a proposal.

Figure 5. Organizations that provide funding opportunities.

Organization NameWebsiteDescription
Governmental Grants
Grants.Govhttps://www.grants.gov/A system that provides a centralized location for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)https://bhw.hrsa.gov/grants/oralhealthOffers grants to states to support oral health workforce activities including community-based care.
Foundation Grants
DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancementhttps://www.dentaquestpartnership.org/grantmakingProvides grants that improve and strengthen systems that create better oral health for all.
Candid Learning (formerly the Foundation Center and GuideStar)https://candid.org/The most authoritative source of information on private philanthropy in the United States.
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Foundationhttps://aapdfoundation.org/Offers single-year and pilot grants to dentist-led, community-based programs that provide underserved children a Dental Home.
W.K Kellogg Foundationhttp://www.wkkf.org/Places the optimal development of children at the center of all they do and calls for healing the profound racial gaps and inequities that exist in our communities.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundationhttp://www.rwjf.org/Seeks to improve health and health care of all Americans.
Rural Health Information Hubhttps://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/oral-health/fundingOffers a comprehensive list of funding opportunities to improve oral health in rural communities. The list can be narrowed down by type, sponsor, topic, and state.
Professional Organization Grants
American Dental Hygienists Association Institute for Oral Healthhttp://www.adha.org/ioh/Offers grants to advance the profession of Dental Hygiene. Service grants provide funding for dental hygienists to provide oral health care and education to those in their communities.

Figure 5. Organizations that provide funding opportunities.

Request for Proposal (RFP): An invitation from a funder to submit applications on a specified topic with specified purposes.


  • Solicited funding opportunity.
  • An RFP usually has one receipt date, as specified in RFP solicitation.

Request for Application (RFA): Identifies a more narrowly defined area for which one or more agencies have set aside funds for awarding grants.


Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): A notice in Grants.gov of a federal grant funding opportunity.


Program Announcement (PA): Identifies areas of increased priority and/or emphasis on particular funding mechanisms for a specific area of science.


Logic Model: A planning tool to clarify and graphically display what your project intends to do and what it hopes to accomplish and impact.