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The ADA Foundation works to improve the public's oral health through a variety of grants, scholarships, and awards that support oral health education programs. Please see the below program descriptions and guidelines for complete information, and check this website for updates.

Education is one of the four pillars of the ADA Foundation. The other pillars are Charitable AssistanceAccess to Care, and Research.

Dr. David Whiston Leadership Program

Purpose: The ADA Foundation Dr. David Whiston Leadership Program annually provides two $5,000 awards - the Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award and the Henry Schein Cares Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award - to deserving individuals who have demonstrated leadership skills in efforts aimed at improving the oral health of the public. The award funds are designed to cover the costs associated with attending a leadership development program offered by the American Management Association. 

Nomination Period: The nomination period will open the first Friday in April. Nominations must be received by the last Friday in June. Nominators and nominees will receive notice of the outcome of the selection process in September.

Eligibility Requirements: The minimum qualifications for those nominated include:

  • Individuals must be nominated by others in order to be considered for this award. 
  • Nominee must have earned or be in the process of earning a D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree from a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation;
  • Nominee must be either a dental student, graduate student, or resident enrolled in an accredited dental school education program, or an early-career dentist under the age of 40 or in his/her first five years of professional work following residency;
  • Nominee must have held a position within dentistry in which he/she has demonstrated leadership skills, such as, but not limited to:
    • The ability to create a vision;
    • Effective communications skills sufficient to motivate others to achieve that vision;
    • The ability to establish a strong team concept;
    • A focus on utilizing those traits for the greater good; and
    • Participation in activities which advance the oral health of the public and/or the underserved.

Dollar Amount and Number of Awards: Two awards of $5,000 annually, one of which is provided through a generous donation from Henry Schein Cares.

Dental Student Scholarship Program

Purpose: The ADA Foundation Dental Student Scholarship Program is designed to recognize dental students who are strong academically and who demonstrate outstanding promise in leadership, public service/volunteerism, and/or research. In 2018 the ADA Foundation will award up to seven scholarships valued at up to $20,000 each through its Dental Student Scholarship Program. The scholarships are available to all eligible dental students (must be a U.S. citizen) enrolled in accredited U.S. dental schools.

Application Period: The application period is open. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Friday, February 2, 2018.    

Eligibility Requirements: In order to be eligible for consideration for these scholarships, an applicant must:

  • Be in the second year of study at the time of application, and currently attending or enrolled at a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association;
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student, defined as maintaining a minimum course load of 12 credit hours; and
  • Have a minimum accumulative grade point average as outlined in the scholarship guidelines.

Dollar Amount and Number of Scholarships: New in 2017-2018, the ADA Foundation will offer up to seven total scholarships of up to $20,000 each.

Allied Dental Student Scholarship Program

The Allied Dental Student Scholarship Program is not available in 2018. If you have questions, please contact the ADA Foundation at

Samuel D. Harris Fund for Children's Dental Health Grant Program

Purpose: The Samuel D. Harris Fund for Children’s Dental Health grant funds programs that provide innovative and effective oral health instruction and motivation for caregivers of preschool-aged children.

Application period: Last Friday in February (RFA period opens) through the second Friday in April (application deadline).

Eligibility Requirements: Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and agencies.

Dollar Amount and Number of Grants: Competitive grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded solely for prenatal and postnatal oral health instruction for parents and caregivers. The total number of Harris Grants awarded is dependent upon the ADA Foundation Board’s allocation of funds in a given year. The ADA Foundation awarded 25 grants totaling more than $124,000 in 2015.

The ADA Foundation expresses its gratitude to all organizations that perform work related to reducing early childhood caries.

Education Through Give Kids A Smile®

The ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program helps educate tens of thousands of children and their families on the importance of good oral health to overall health. Visit the Give Kids A Smile page.

ADA Foundation brochure cover

Download this brochure to read about the grants, scholarships, and awards offered by the ADA Foundation.