In the Community

Doing Good: Teaming Up to Tackle Dental Issues

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation and United Way of South Hampton Roads have teamed up to improve dental care and access for low-income residents of the South Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The two regional funders have issued a joint request for proposal from area nonprofits to help economically disadvantaged individuals have free dental treatment and preventive care. May 20 is the deadline for nonprofit organizations, including coalitions, to apply for a total of $50,000 in grant funding.

“This is the first time the community foundation and the United Way have joined forces with a single proposal request,” says Dr. Deborah M. DiCroce, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. “We are leveraging the strengths of two long-standing organizations and modeling the power of collaboration to improve life for area individuals with tremendous dental needs and no resources to address them.”

The community foundation and United Way focused on dental issues as a critical need they could effectively address together. Statistics show that 197,949 Hampton Roads adults have not visited a dentist in the past two years, and 55,000 area youth have not seen a dentist in at least a year. Approximately the same number of youth already have cavities in their teeth.

The American Dental Association reports that record numbers of Americans go to emergency rooms for dental treatment, which can cost up to 10 times more than preventative care. Neglecting dental care can lead to a lifetime of health problems and make it difficult for individuals to eat, speak, get jobs and feel good about themselves.

“Many of us have never known what it is like to live with constant dental pain and to be embarrassed by not having teeth,” says Carol McCormack, United Way of South Hampton Roads president and CEO. She has seen clients at dental clinics come because “they couldn’t have the heart surgery or kidney transplants they needed until their dental problems were fixed.”

The dental RFP grant guidelines and application are posted to Both the United Way and Hampton Roads are funding grants and will review applications. Both organizations have separately funded dental needs in the region previously.

“We are thrilled to work with the community foundation as partners tackling one of our community’s most significant needs,” McCormack says.

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is the largest grant and scholarship provider in southeastern Virginia and supports causes ranging from arts and education to health and human services. The United Way is the largest private funder dedicated solely to human service needs in South Hampton Roads.

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