At Arcora Foundation, our name reflects our mission—bending the arc of oral health towards equity. Our Board of Trustees understands the importance equity, along with diversity and inclusion, have in our work to advance oral health in communities across Washington with no one left behind.

Our Board defines equity as an ardent journey toward assuring availability of appropriate, tailored resources and treatment for every person to access opportunities and reach their full potential based on where they are and where they want to go. Further, health equity is the assurance of the conditions for the highest standard of health and well-being for every person, as defined by each of those affected. Power and resources must be reallocated, oppressive systems dismantled, and harm caused by system imbalances must be healed. When health equity is achieved, racism and discrimination will no longer factor in predicting life expectancy and health outcomes.

These frameworks help our Board and Foundation take our mission from a statement to a core element of how we engage with communities.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board Committee

Our Board’s leadership in championing diversity, equity and inclusion extends to how the Foundation functions internally. In 2020, to further integrate equity into the core of our Board’s work, Trustees and Arcora Foundation team members developed an ad-hoc Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee.

Our DEI Board Committee aims to foster Arcora Foundation Trustees’ learning, development, and interest in DEI and social justice. It also aims to support Arcora Foundation’s DEI work through making recommendations to the Board that center social justice and equity in the strategic plan, governance and policies. The committee works to vet and recommend resources to the full Board that will encourage continuous learning and growth, and practices examining the systems and processes within which the Board operates to develop awareness and understanding of power dynamics. This awareness informs the Board’s efforts toward equity-focused policy and programs.

National Recognition for DEI Efforts

On Nov. 9, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) named our Board as finalist for their DE&I Awards. The annual award goes to forward-thinking boards that leverage the power of diversity, equity and inclusion to enhance their governance and create long-term value for their organizations and stakeholders.

“This national recognition is a great honor that reflects the engagement of my fellow board members and the dedication of the Foundation team,” said Arcora Foundation Board Chair Joe Finkbonner. “The integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion into what we do and who we are continues and is a journey we’re committed to for the long haul.”

Read more about the award and the other finalists.

Centering DEI to Improve Community Health

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to effectively address disparities and improve health equity for all. While oral health is generally improving across all Washington children, racial disparities are still deep and widespread:

  • Hispanic and American Indian/Alaskan Native children have 50% higher rates of cavities than their white classmates.
  • Pacific Islander children experience untreated decay at rates over twice that of white children.

Noting the intersection of race and socioeconomic status, it is alarming that twice as many children from low-income households suffer from rampant tooth decay than children from higher-income households.

Next year will mark a new chapter in how we work to address disparities. In September of 2021, our Board approved our new, three-year strategic plan. With it, we will take intentional steps to place equity front and center in our work to bridge the oral health equity gap. We will deepen the focus of our prevention and access priorities on racial/ethnic communities—specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color—where disparities in oral disease and access to care are significant.

We can’t do this work alone. To be successful, we must include and learn from people of diverse racial/ethnic communities. We must understand not only what oral health disparities exist, but how the Foundation can best support our partners to make meaningful, lasting, culturally appropriate change. With this, more people can have the resources and access they need to have good oral and overall health.