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Access to Care

The ADA Foundation provides grants and awards related to access to care through awards to dental school student groups that provide care to underserved populations in their own communities and around the world; and through Give Kids A Smile-related efforts. Please see the below program descriptions and guidelines for complete information, and check this website for updates.

Access to care is one of the four pillars of the ADA Foundation. The other pillars are Charitable AssistanceResearch, and Education.

Photo credit, rotator banner on ADAF home page: This big group shows only a few of the Indiana University School of Dentistry students and faculty who have offered their service as Saturday clinic volunteers: BACK ROW, from left: Dr. Jeffrey Dean, Dr. Karen Yoder, Neal Patel, Osean Soh, Shaun Freeman (in front of Osean), Devin Shone, Jason Hua, Bryan Burrows, Charla McGough, Christine Foulkes, Daniel Stackowicz (behind Christine), Michael Reider, Kat So (in front of Michael), Janie Beckwith, Annissa Michael, Derek Vajda, Stephanie So (in front of Derek), Erica Kight, Ross Reid (behind Erica), Kurush Savabi, Tim Surber, and Dr. Timothy Carlson. FRONT ROW: Anait Balasanyan, Van Hoang, Cat-Nhan Do, Maya Gendlin, Julie Byers, Jillian Smith, Laura Davila (in front of Jillian), Jennifer Sitjar, Kavita Nana, Melissa Santilli (kneeling), and Carolyn Dundon. Not pictured is Ryan Hungate. Photo taken Sept. 10, 2011, at HealthNet People’s Health and Dental Clinic.

Semi-annual Invitational Grants

Visit the "How to Apply" page for information on these grants.

The "E" Bud Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award

Purpose: The ADA Foundation Bud Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award annually highlights significant dental student outreach to vulnerable communities within the U.S. 

Application Period: First Friday in September (RFA open) through the second Friday in November (application deadline)

Eligibility Requirements: Dental student groups enrolled in a predoctoral dental education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which are involved in an outreach program to vulnerable communities within the U.S. The ADA Foundation accepts one application from each dental school.

Dollar Amount and Number of Awards: At least one award of $5,000 is awarded each year. Due to a generous gift from ADA Business Resources (ADABEI), six Tarrson Awards valued at $5,000 each were made in 2013.

Tarrson Award recipients for 2013:

  • Harvard University School of Dental Medicine for its ACTION program
  • Indiana University School of Dentistry for its Student Outreach Clinic
  • University of California at Los Angeles School of Dentistry for its UCLA ASDA Los Angeles Community Clinics
  • University of Michigan School of Dentistry for its Wolverine Patriot Project
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center-School of Dentistry for its Jackson Free Clinic
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine for the Huntridge Clinics

The winner of the 2012 Bud Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award was UCSF School of Dentistry for their Community Dental Clinic student outreach program.

The Dr. Thomas J. Zwemer Award

Purpose: The Dr. Thomas J. Zwemer Award was created in 2012 by Dr. Richard Simms, then a member of the ADAF Board of Directors, in honor of his mentor and longtime friend, Thomas J. Zwemer, D.D.S. The goal is to recognize and encourage student programs that provide services to underserved populations outside of the U.S. in the same fashion as the ADAF’s very successful Tarrson Award. 

Application Period: First Friday in September (RFA open) through the second Friday in November (application deadline)

Eligibility Requirements: Dental student groups enrolled in a predoctoral dental education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which are involved in an outreach program to vulnerable communities outside of the U.S. The ADA Foundation accepts one application from each dental school.

Dollar Amount and Number of Awards: One award of $5,000 is made annually to a dental school on behalf of the student's winning outreach program.

The winner of the 2013 Zwemer Award is the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry for its Malawi Dental Project. The winner of the inaugural ADAF Zwemer Award (2012) was Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine for their student outreach program in rural Madagascar.

The ADA Foundation and Give Kids A Smile®

As dentistry’s premier philanthropic and charitable organization, the ADA Foundation builds relationships to help make a difference through better oral health. One of the most important ways in which the ADA Foundation does this is to provide fundraising support for Give Kids A Smile, the ADA’s premier access-to-care program.

The ADA began the Give Kids A Smile program in 2003 as a way for ADA members to join with others in the community to provide dental services to underserved children. The program has since grown from a one-day event in February to local and national events year-round.

The ADA Foundation provides funds to the ADA for its Give Kids A Smile program through a formal grant-making process, and to other organizations as grant monies become available. Grant monies support efforts such as the Give Kids A Smile Institute, an intensive in-person training session for GKAS leaders nationwide, which takes place in St. Louis, Missouri each fall; and the Give Kids A Smile NASCAR education and outreach program, through which tens of thousands of children and their families are educated each year about good oral health.

There are no Give Kids A Smile-related grant opportunities available at this time.

Visit the Give Kids A Smile page