Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Seeking Applications for $100,000 Wisdom Tooth Award

Posted on March 20, 2017 in In the Community

Organizations looking to impact children's oral health in Illinois encouraged to apply by May 26 

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of Delta Dental of Illinois, is now accepting applications for its annual Wisdom Tooth Award. The $100,000 grant will support a nonprofit organization that works to improve the oral health of Illinois children and plans to expand or enhance an existing children's oral health program in Illinois. Eligible organizations must have a physical presence in Illinois, benefit children and have an established program that provides oral health education and/or access to oral health resources and care.

In 2016, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation and Michael Reese Health Trust funded the Oral Health in Illinois report, the first comprehensive statewide oral health assessment ever completed.  The report, available at, highlights inequities in dental care in Illinois and shows that tooth decay disproportionately affects poor and rural residents of the state. The report also further reinforces the need for better access to dental care in the state and the need for oral health education and awareness.  Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation works to meet both of these needs every year through its Wisdom Tooth Award program.

“Poor oral health is prevalent among Illinois children and one of the most serious, unmet health care issues facing children in our state,” said Lora Vitek, director of philanthropy and community relations for Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation.  “The Wisdom Tooth Award allows us to meet the need for better oral health care in Illinois by providing support to an organization that improves the oral health of Illinois children.  Since poor oral health and tooth decay affect a child's overall well-being, impacting their ability to eat, smile, talk and concentrate, our mission is to improve children's oral health by ensuring they receive the dental care they need and they learn how to maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime.”

The recipient of the fourth annual Wisdom Tooth Award was Crusader Community Health. With five locations in Rockford, Loves Park and Belvidere, Crusader Community Health is a not-for-profit health center with a mission to serve the Rock River Valley area with quality primary health care for all, regardless of their ability to pay. The organization will use the Wisdom Tooth Award to expand and enhance the oral health care it provides through the hiring of an additional full-time dentist. The new dentist will work at two Rockford locations, the Auburn High School Campus Health Center and Crusader Community Health's West State Street location. A portion of the Wisdom Tooth grant will also fund the purchase of a digital sensor RVG6200 for the organization's Kodak digital X-ray system, which will allow for better dental X-rays for children ages 10 and older. With these additions, Crusader Community Health expects to serve 400 more children each month.

The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation presents the 2016 Wisdom Tooth Award to Crusader Community Health. Left to Right: Lora Vitek, director of philanthropy and community relations for the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation; Craig C. Grannon, board member of Delta Dental of Illinois; Kathy Olson, dental director of Crusader Community Health; Gordon Eggers, Jr., president and CEO of Crusader Community Health; Sean Norton, assistant principal at Auburn High School; Stacey Bonn, chief operating officer at Delta Dental of Illinois and Scott Viel, health services specialist for Rockford Public Schools.

The 2017 deadline for applications is May 26 at 5 p.m. CST. The 2017 Wisdom Tooth Award recipient will be announced this summer. The organization that receives the grant has up to two years to use the funding.

Illinois public charities that are classified as exempt from federal income taxes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and public or governmental entities, such as public schools or health departments, are eligible and encouraged to apply.

To learn more about Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and its programs, please visit