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Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation raises $5 million for community health

Delta Dental of Illinois and its 501(c)(3) charitable arm, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, joined its partners and employees in giving nearly $5 million to communities throughout Illinois in 2021, as reported in their 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

The giving focuses on improving the oral and overall health of Illinoisans as well as highlights their philanthropic and social impact efforts.

“At Delta Dental of Illinois, our core values define who we are as an organization,” said John Maples (shown), president and CEO of Delta Dental of Illinois. “Corporate philanthropy and governance, sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion practices are fundamental values built into the framework of what we do.”

Delta Dental of Illinois and its Foundation, along with its employees and partners, continued investing in communities across the state.  Delta Dental of Illinois is committed to being a good corporate citizen with programs focused on its social and environmental impact. As a non-profit, Delta Dental of Illinois’ vision is to improve health and well-being for those it serves. It works to fulfill this vision through its own philanthropic initiatives, as well as through the Foundation’s programs dedicated to improving oral health in Illinois.

“Ensuring equal access to quality oral health care and education, especially for children, is at the heart of what we do,” said Lora Vitek, executive director for Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “We continue to focus our efforts in the community to ensure that vital oral health care services continued for those who needed it most.”

Initiatives in 2021 included:

Health Equity Grant and COVID-19 Renewal Grant Programs: 54 organizations statewide were awarded grants, given from Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation in partnership with the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation, which provided nearly $8 million of support for oral and overall health care. The programs aim to improve health care across the state — especially among children who face barriers to receiving quality dental care or have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

Community Grants: Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation awarded nearly $245,000 to 18 nonprofit and community organizations to improve education and increase access to oral health care for Illinois children. In 2021, grants were awarded up to $20,000 for each grant recipient. More than $1.6 million has been donated through this program since 2014.

Corporate Responsibility: In 2021, Delta Dental of Illinois contributed to 55 organizations through corporate philanthropy events like Dental Lifeline Network, which helps provide comprehensive oral health care for veterans, and the American Diabetes Association in Illinois to raise awareness of the oral health connection to diabetes. Grants were also awarded to the Arthritis Foundation, Community Health, American Red Cross and more.

Promoting Dental Workforce Education: Celebrated the completion and opening of Southern Illinois University’s Advanced Care Clinic — the $11.5 million, state-of-the-art clinic began providing clinical education and patient care in the fall of 2021. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation also provided the Malcolm X College of Dentistry Hygiene Program with $100,000 for resources and supplies to expand their training and increase community outreach.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Delta Dental of Illinois welcomed Rheaana Guess, its first vice president, people and diversity officer, in 2021. Guess is charged with developing and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to create an inclusive culture. Guess has helped Delta Dental of Illinois deliver on this commitment by offering a multitude of learning and engagement opportunities for employees, leading an internal DEI team, facilitating trainings, launching a mentorship and sponsorship program and so much more.

Focusing on Sustainability: Delta Dental of Illinois employees donated and participated in charitable activities throughout 2021 to support sustainability, including 144 volunteer hours with Adopt-A-Highway and hosting an Earth Day Recycling Event. At the event, household batteries, hazardous items and plastic bags were recycled to reduce the collection in landfills and their harmful effects on the environment. Water-filling stations were also installed at the Delta Dental of Illinois office, which is an Energy Star Office. This designation is given to offices that perform in the top 25% of buildings in terms of energy efficiency.

H2O On the Go: Provided 55 Illinois elementary, middle and high schools with new water bottle-filling stations valued at $500,000 as part of H20 On the Go, a new grant program in partnership with the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation. The new water stations are environmentally friendly, touchless and encourage students to drink water instead of sugary beverages. Students also received free toothbrushes and reusable water bottles.

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation continued its efforts to expand oral health care and education through online versions of its Dentist By 1 and Land of Smiles programs. With these programs, the Foundation provided training for dentists to work with young patients, and a virtual program with superheroes teaching Illinois children about good oral health habits. For more details, see the 2021 Delta Dental of Illinois Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

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