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Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute

Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute logo

Since 2011, the Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute has offered a unique opportunity for GKAS program coordinators across the U.S. to share best practices, explore outreach enhancements, and learn new approaches to providing dental care to America's underserved children.

Each year, a minimum of ten travel grants are awarded to a select group of applicants to enable them to attend a three-day training session in St. Louis, where Give Kids A Smile began. The mixture of group discussions and guided dialogue is complemented by the chance to see a well-developed program in action, and the ability to interact with volunteers, organizers, parents, and kids. The GKAS coordinators then go on to serve as regional resources for other GKAS programs in their communities. View a list of GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute Ambassadors.

The GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute evolved from an earlier, related effort, the GKAS Promising Practices Symposium (2007-2010), in 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. View the GKAS Promising Practices Symposium proceedings that resulted from the meetings.

The GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute is sponsored by generous donations from Hu-Friedy and Henry Schein Cares Foundation.

How to Become a GKAS Ambassador:
Apply to attend the GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute

Purpose: The Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute program 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. Once GKAS program coordinators complete this training, they are eligible to become a GKAS Ambassador.

Application period: The application period will re-open in Spring 2020. Please check this website at that time.

Event date: The 2020 GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute will be held on Wednesday, November 11 through Saturday, November 14, 2020. 

Eligibility Requirements: The ADA 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 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!