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Improving Oral Health Care for Low-Income Adults and Seniors

Oral health care in the U.S. and California provides a clear example of health inequity. Both age and income status limit access to quality oral health care. Medicare does not cover dental care, leaving seniors to scramble for access. Medi-Cal’s dental benefits for low-income adults are optional and have been suspended in the past. And the Affordable Care Act does not require dental care for adults to be offered as an essential health benefit. Cal Wellness seeks to address the well-documented gaps in access to, coverage for, and quality of, oral health care for low-income adults and seniors.

What We Fund

Each application for funding must fit under one or more of these strategies. Please review the target populations and grant examples listed here to see if your work is aligned with our current priorities. 

  • Quality affordable dental care, with attention to approaches that follow a dental home model
  • Efforts to inform policymakers and opinion leaders about the oral health needs of low-income adults and seniors
  • Efforts to strengthen the oral healthcare workforce that serves low-income adults and seniors.

Target Populations

All projects we fund must support one or more of the following populations:  

  • Low-income adults and seniors

What We Do Not Fund

We fund very specific projects and activities. We do not fund: 

  • Requests that focus solely or predominantly on children/pediatric dentistry. 
  • Capital campaigns to build a new building/section/wing for a dental program. 
  • Requests that are solely focused on equipment. However, you may use a portion of Cal Wellness grant dollars to purchase key items such as operatories (dental workstations/chairs).

Examples of Funded Grants

Below are some examples of organizations we fund under this grantmaking area:  

  • California Black Health Network – Sacramento CA, $250,000/3 years. Core operating support to sustain and strengthen efforts to inform California policymakers and opinion leaders about the oral health needs of African American adults and seniors. 
  • Free Clinic of Simi Valley – Simi Valley CA, $225,000/3 years. Core operating support to sustain oral health care for low income adults and seniors in southeast Ventura County. 
  • Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center – San Diego CA, $300,000/3 years. Project support to launch and grow a geriatric dental clinic in downtown San Diego for low-income seniors. 
  • Justice in Aging – Oakland CA, $250,000/3 years. Core operating support to strengthen and sustain public policy advocacy and technical assistance efforts focused on improving oral health care for low-income seniors in California. 
A letter of interest is the first step in requesting a grant. We’re now accepting LOIs.
Check out our grants database.
Earl Lui
Program Director Earl Lui

Earl Lui leads grantmaking related to advancing health care reform, strengthening community clinics and safety-net partners, and strengthening community clinics and safety-net partners.

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