Advancing Equity Through Oral Health

To submit any grant proposal, please click here to be directed to our online grants management portal.

In 2020, the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement (DentaQuest Partnership) partnered with The Bridgespan Group to identify pathways toward increased innovation in the field of oral health, find key points of leverage within the broader subsidiaries, and to measure our impact moving forward. The result of this process was the completion of a new strategic direction that draws on our values and core competencies to push us towards the change we seek to create. 

 As a key driver in this plan, the grantmaking strategy for 2021 builds on the accomplishments in 2020 by our broad grantee portfolio, as well as our commitment to ongoing strategic partnerships and driving systems change.

In 2021, the DentaQuest Partnership will implement a robust grantmaking portfolio that aligns with strategies we believe will equitably advance systems change at the local, state, and national level. We will leverage the capacity built, infrastructure maintained, strategic partnerships, and an intentional approach to include new perspectives to drive innovative change in health and oral health across the country.

The following grant strategies will be available throughout the year within which eligible organizations may apply. Use of grant funds under the Advancing Equity portfolio may include project staff salaries, subgrants to partner organizations, consultant fees, data collection and analysis, meetings, supplies, activities related to fundraising and development, project-related travel, and other direct project expenses. Grant funds, including subgrants, may not be used for direct service.

Support the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN)*:

In 2021, through in-kind support from DentaQuest Partnership staff and Strategic Advisors, OPEN Inc. (the backbone organization) will build upon the infrastructural milestones reached in 2020 to support the network and strengthen its independence and collaboration. OPEN (the broader network) is uniquely positioned in the oral health field as a resource for oral health advocates and is an extensive mechanism for sharing strategies and tools. Through grantmaking and internal collaborations, 2021 will bring about several instrumental resources for OPEN including, but not limited to, a Community Catalyst Policy Equity Tool and an OPEN Advocacy Toolkit. The aim of the grantmaking team is to leverage the relationship with OPEN to strengthen the impact of our grantees through testing, aligning, and implementing strategic resources as they are being produced.

*This funding area is intended specifically for OPEN Inc. and its fiscal agent, the National Network of Public Health Institutes

Drive Federal Oral Health Policy

Significant progress has been made towards an aligned federal oral health policy agenda. The DentaQuest Partnership staff and Strategic Advisors are collaborating with key partners to identify one or more federal oral health policy priorities based on a myriad of shifting environmental factors. In 2021, new and ongoing opportunities to impact federal health and oral health policy will be a focus of this grantmaking area, such as, but not limited to, the inclusion of a comprehensive dental benefit in Medicare. Through high-impact partnerships with key national players, including the Medicare Oral Health Coalition and its members, we will continue to position ourselves for timely, collaborative opportunities, shared legislative engagement strategies, and new partnerships to equitably expand the voices at the table. Included in this last priority area is our interest to raise up partners representing new dimensions of federal oral health policy that are inclusive of populations such as, but not limited to, Veterans and the those with disabilities. 

Within this area of grantmaking, the DentaQuest Partnership is open to exploring projects that prioritize policies which may or may not be explicitly oral health policies. However, if the policy that the applicant seeks to influence is not explicitly an oral health policy (i.e. social determinant or social risk factor), the applicants will need to demonstrate a connection to improved oral health.

Strengthen Community Voice and State Advocacy

For the DentaQuest Partnership, an instrumental part of the grantmaking strategy shift towards systems change has been elevating the importance of community voice in driving local and statewide change. With the Grassroots Engagement Initiative, it was evident that traditionally underserved communities are often left out of the discourse and decision-making as it relates to their local community’s healthcare needs. It was evident, as well, that when the voices of historically marginalized communities exist in spaces where decisions are made, powerful and positive disruption can occur.  In 2020, both the Building Community Power and Statewide Advocacy RFPs were designed to ensure that voices from marginalized communities were driving policy conversations. In 2021, this work will continue through a combination of community-based and state-based advocacy organizations that use a health and/or racial equity lens and actively engage community voice to influence policy advocacy local and state policy advocacy. 

Within this area of grantmaking, the DentaQuest Partnership is open to exploring projects that prioritize policies which may or may not be explicitly oral health policies. However, if the policy that the applicant seeks to influence is not explicitly an oral health policy (i.e. social determinant of health or social risk factor), the applicants will need to demonstrate a connection to improved oral health.

Spread Learning Models to the Broader Safety Net

The DentaQuest Partnership has a long and deep commitment to supporting the broad integration of oral health into primary care within the safety net. Through historic grantmaking initiatives such as Strengthening the Oral Health Safety Net (SOHSN), the National Oral Health Innovation and Integration Network (NOHIIN), and in 2020 the Driving Oral Health Transformation in the Safety Net RFP, we have sought to demonstrate the unique and powerful role that the safety net can play in advancing oral health value-based care. In 2020, in response to COVID-19 and the shut-down of the healthcare safety net, the DentaQuest Partnership launched the Community Oral Health Transformation (COrHT) Initiative with the intent to support the dental safety net to reopen safely, with updated infection control procedures. 

Our hope is that deeper capacity within the safety net, testing and refinement of new models of integrated person-centered care, and increased opportunities for strategic leverage across states will advance a new framework for innovating oral health care. Additionally, we believe a fundamental aspect of our work to support oral health transformation in the safety net is to leverage strategic learning that occurs through advancements (both successes and failures) made in state-based and national efforts. 

Work happening in this funding area could look like, but is not limited to, fostering new, safe, and effective guidelines for infection control, broadening the use of telehealth or teledentistry for oral health, piloting value-based metrics, expanding health information technology capacity and interoperability, or expanding capacity and use of population health management (social determinants of health or social risk factors).  

Cross-cutting Strategies of Interest

Additionally, in 2021, within the Advancing Equity portfolio, the DentaQuest Partnership will be looking specifically to elevate several cross-cutting dimensions that we believe are critical to advancing equity through oral health. Within 2021 proposals, we will be looking for applications that demonstrate intent and work related to one or more of the following cross-cutting dimensions: 

  • Health and Racial Equity: How are investments or strategies accounting for, contextualizing, and addressing historic imbalances in power, representation, infrastructure, and outcomes within all systems?
  • Social Determinants of Health and Oral Health: How can care, community, and policies be aligned in approaches to advance structural changes that address social risk factors?
  • Community-Centered Measurement: How can data, that is centered on and informed by communities be utilized by advocates, providers and communities to advance policy and systems change efforts?
  • Internal Learning and Capacity Building: How are investments being leveraged to expand the capacity of the DentaQuest Partnership and our grantees or partners?

Application Deadlines

The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement (DentaQuest Partnership) accepts concepts, or 500-word project summaries, from organizations seeking to improve oral health on a rolling basis. These can be submitted at any time using the link below. Concepts are reviewed monthly, and organizations whose work strongly aligns with DentaQuest Partnership’s priority areas will be invited to enter the next stage of the application process: to submit a full proposal. A full proposal is a more comprehensive application, which includes a project narrative, workplan, and budget. This detailed proposal allows applicants to fully describe the proposed scope of work and corresponding steps necessary for implementation.
The proposal review schedule for the year 2021 Grants Strategy is as follows. Proposals will be reviewed monthly from February through July of 2021. There will be two additional proposal review meetings in September and November of 2021, as needed. Deadlines for the monthly proposal review sessions are outlined below, however, are subject to change. Please note that the final deadline for consideration for a grant in 2021 is Thursday, October 28, 2021. Once a proposal is submitted, a member of the grants team will follow up with you about the results of the review process.
Grant Review Month Proposal Submission Deadline
(N/A for Concepts)
March Friday, March 5
April Friday, April 2
May Friday, April 30
June Tuesday, May 18
July Tuesday, July 13
September Tuesday, August 31
November Thursday, October 28


Once a proposal is submitted, a member of the grants team will follow up with you about the results of the review process. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your representative from the grants team or submit an inquiry here.