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Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute

Video from Give Kids A Smile Institute: Fall 2014

Since 2003, Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) volunteers have provided oral health education and care to nearly 350,000 underserved children each year. GKAS events are managed by GKAS program coordinators, who access GKAS planning tools and information through the GKAS Program Planning Toolbox.

The ADA Foundation provides more advanced training through the Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute. Since 2011, the GKAS Institute has provided grant funding to approximately 10 GKAS program coordinators each year, who are invited to St. Louis to observe the longest-running GKAS event in the nation. Participants gain hands-on experience and learn best practices regarding how to initiate, enhance, or expand their existing GKAS program.

GKAS Institute graduates are known as "GKAS Ambassadors." GKAS Ambassadors not only gain the tools and experiences to take their own program to the next level, they also become part of a strong peer-to-peer network and serve as regional resources for other GKAS coordinators. View a list of GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute Ambassadors, and read a recent story about some GKAS Ambassadors in ADA News.

Through the years, the GKAS program’s focus has evolved to become more comprehensive, particularly through the provision of continuity of care and the establishment of dental homes for children. The GKAS Institute likewise evolved from an earlier, related effort. From 2007-2010, the ADA convened a GKAS Promising Practices Symposium, during which like-minded individuals shared valuable information and resources regarding how to move existing dental care systems to the next level for America’s underserved children. The resulting GKAS Promising Practices Symposium proceedings are available for review.

The GKAS Institute couldn’t happen without the ongoing support of our generous sponsors, Hu-Friedy and Henry Schein Cares. Thank you!

How to Become a GKAS Ambassador

Purpose: The Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute provides select GKAS program coordinators with grant funding to subsidize travel and expenses associated with attending the GKAS Institute, where they gain the knowledge and resources to help them expand, enhance, or begin their GKAS program.

Application period: The 2017 application period will open in April, 2017.

Eligibility Requirements: The ADA Foundation accepts applications from individuals representing organizations that provide oral health care for underserved children through a Give Kids A Smile event, including state (constituent) and local (component) dental societies of the ADA and/or community based organizations. Applicants must reside within the 50 U.S. states.

•    Candidates must demonstrate their commitment and ability to begin a new GKAS program or enhance an existing one.
•    Candidates should have experience managing/chairing an access to care event.
•    Candidates should hold a position in their organization that will allow them to effectively implement lessons learned during the GKAS Institute.
•    Applicants are not required to be a licensed dentist or hygienist.

Dollar Amount and Number of Awards: The dollar amount of each award varies based on the cost of travel, housing, and meals. Up to ten travel grants will be given for selected participants. The ADA Foundation GKAS National Advisory Committee may increase or decrease the number of grants given.

Those selected will be asked to serve as a GKAS Ambassador during the GKAS Institute. As part of this commitment, the GKAS Ambassador will participate in educational sessions and also work the duration of the October St. Louis GKAS Clinic in a variety of capacities, depending on his/her particular interest and program goals. Examples of the duties of an Ambassador range from being a clinic escort, working at the check-in/check-out process, sterilization area, photography, triage area, education area, entertainment area, and more. The St. Louis GKAS Clinic will address the needs of the participants while allowing them to experience first-hand the workings of the clinic. Due to Missouri licensing rules, not all participants present will be able to work as clinical practitioners.

 Questions? Visit the GKAS Institute Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, or contact the Give Kids A Smile Team at Thank you!