Advancing Equity Through
Oral Health Fund

In 2020, the grants team 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, CareQuest Institute 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.

Drive Federal Oral Health Policy

Significant progress has been made towards an aligned federal oral health policy agenda. CareQuest Institute 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 Institute 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 CareQuest Institute, 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‚Äôs health care 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 Institute 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

CareQuest Institute 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 health care safety net, the Institute 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).  

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

In 2021, through in-kind support from CareQuest Institute 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