Grantee Spotlight: Esperanca Helps At-risk Children Learn with a Smile

Esperanca's McKenzie Simmons, director of development, and Maria Valenzuela, community health coordinator, accept a $15,000 grant from Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation board member, Dr. Phil Santucci.

Esperanca’s McKenzie Simmons, director of development, and Maria Valenzuela, community health coordinator, accept a $15,000 grant from Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation board member, Dr. Phil Santucci.

Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation is a 501(c)3 private foundation embedded in Delta Dental of Arizona, the leading dental benefits company in the state. We have a staff of 3 and a large group of volunteer board members and event volunteers who dedicate themselves to executing the mission of the Foundation, which is to support the improvement of oral health in Arizona.

Our mission drives every decision and action to find the best ways to serve our communities. We want to show you the work we do, the lives we’ve changed and the smiles we’ve created.

We know teeth. But Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation is much more than working with dentists, more than cleanings, more than cavities, more than reminding everyone to floss once a day. We focus on the big picture of oral health in Arizona and work on making a difference in our communities. We grant money to dental clinics, dental schools, portable dental services, anti-tobacco campaigns, and programs for pregnant women. We give toothbrushes to children who share one with their brothers and sisters and have never had their own. We fix a smile, improve a life and move the needle.

One group we invest in is Esperanca, a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to “improve health and provide hope for families in the poorest communities of the world through sustainable disease prevention, education and treatment.” Although Esperanca is known as an organization that sends medical doctors and dentists to far reaching countries like Mozambique, Nicaragua and Bolivia, they also run programs right here in Arizona. Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation supports the “Learning with a Smile” program to provide oral health education to 2,000-4,500 children and parents in the most needy neighborhoods in Maricopa County.

Esperanca trains dental educators to provide age- and culturally-appropriate oral health education in English and Spanish to at risk children in Head Start/Early Head Start Centers, elementary schools, and community settings such as NOAH Dental Clinic, Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry. The programs they deliver are culled from Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Future, National Institutes of Health, Crest’s Funtime Activities, Centers for Disease Control, among others. They partner with shelters and transitional housing programs to deliver education to the children in those facilities.

Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation is proud to support organizations like Esperanca that make a difference in our community and spread more smiles across the state.

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