2022 is a significant milestone for the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation. We are turning 10!
As the Foundation continues to look toward the future of improving oral health in the communities we serve, it is helpful to remember where we have been to fully appreciate how far we have come. During my time as Executive Director of the Foundation, I have enjoyed learning about its history, the amazing partnerships cultivated throughout the last decade and the community projects funded.
From the very beginning, the Foundation helped fund one of the first fully integrated medical, oral health curricula by partnering with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Through this unique partnership, each class of students is given a full week of instruction on oral health and the Foundation sponsors an annual lecture series featuring expert speakers and in-depth presentations exploring the latest findings in oral health.
One of the Foundation’s most widely recognized benefits is the support of countless safety-net providers who deliver oral health care to underserved communities across the Commonwealth. Safety-net providers serve the most vulnerable among us, including children, the elderly and so many more. Since its inception in 2012, the Foundation has contributed more than $6 million to our community partners and made an additional statewide contribution of more than $4 million in 2020 to support Virginians impacted by COVID-19. Although a decade of service has provided the opportunity to fund countless projects through Virginia’s safety-net organizations, there are many that still need help caring for our neighbors who may have found themselves out of work and without insurance. In honor of our 10-year anniversary, the Foundation is adding a second grant cycle this year and creating a new grant opportunity for our community partners in the spring of 2022.
In addition to program funding, the Foundation celebrates its anniversary this year by launching a pair of new community programs.
LIFT (Local Impact for Tomorrow) is a health and wellness initiative sponsored by a coalition of community partners, including Carilion Clinic, Roanoke City Public Schools and Freedom First Credit Union. We believe the key to strengthening a community starts with the family and the easiest way to reach families is through their neighborhood school. The Foundation and its partners will officially open the first LIFT Clinic inside Roanoke’s Fallon Park Elementary School this spring to deliver life-changing services to the families who need them most.
The second program launch in 2022 will be focused on growing and diversifying the dental workforce in the Commonwealth. The Foundation and Old Dominion University’s School of Dental Hygiene are partnering to create the Dental Health Summer Institute. The new program will provide an opportunity for underrepresented high school students to learn about the options available to them in the dental workforce and inspire and prepare them to apply to an institution of higher learning.
A healthy smile is a powerful thing and these are just some of the initiatives, partnerships and programs that we’ll enjoy celebrating this year as part of the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation’s 10-year Anniversary. As we commemorate 10 years of supporting Virginia’s dental safety net, programs boosting prevention and initiatives to accelerate learning throughout the Commonwealth, we are eager to share our story with you. Learn more about the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation at DeltaDentalVA.com/foundation.
– Polly Raible, Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation Executive Director