Community expertise guides our engagement strategy

Arcora Foundation Associate Program Officer Matt Gonzalez shares how community-based organizations guide our work to support the oral and overall health of Latinx community members. 

Two Arcora Foundation staff members are dressed in summer party attire. To the right of them is the Tooth Fairy in a green dress and wings. They are standing in front of a brightly colored event tent.

Photo caption: Sharing smiles at the Latino Expo in Lynnwood this summer, hosted by the Latino Educational Training Institute (LETI). From left to right: Matt Gonzalez, Associate Program Officer; Nicole Hood, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Manager; and Alex the Tooth Fairy from the Tooth Fairy Experience. 

I’m what you’d call a people person. Whether in person or over Zoom, I love connecting with organizations across the state to learn how we can best support your efforts to improve oral and overall health. And if we can have these conversations over a cup of coffee or good meal—even better. 

Relationships are truly at the center of all we do. Arcora Foundation’s 2022-2024 strategic plan centers our work in equity to achieve good oral and overall health for all. And this plan won’t become a reality unless we take meaningful steps to center people with lived experiences in it.

Over the past year, Arcora provided several Community Learning Grants to learn more about communities’ strengths and challenges. The goal is to of gather community-based solutions to oral health problems. These engagements helped us strengthen relationships with new and existing partners, as well as learn what efforts are going well—and where we can do better. 

Leveraging community strengths to forward racial equity.

I’ve had the privilege and joy to connect with many of you during my time at Arcora. As my current role grows, so do my opportunities to show up at community events and build one-on-one relationships with amazing Hispanic and Latinx-led organizations. 

Data shows that Hispanic children have a 50 percent higher rate of untreated decay than their white classmates. I want to stress that this disparity does not mean Hispanic communities have inherent failures. Rather, these disparities represent longstanding failures in our health care and racial justice systems, and countless missed chances to let the strengths of those with lived experience guide decision making. 

More than 500,000 people in Washington state speak Spanish at home. Without linguistically appropriate care, many may not be able to access the resources they need. In the U.S., 42 percent of undocumented individuals don’t have health insurance—compared to just 8 percent of citizens. Through programs like the SmileMobile, we work to fill the care gap for Washington’s uninsured and migrant populations. But it’s community-based partnerships that will really drive progress in our initiatives and state policymaking.

Partnerships bring about possibility.

Logo for Latino Educational Training Institute

The Latino Education Training Institute (LETI) provides ongoing work in education and training, health and safety, economic development, and community development, emphasizing first-generation Latino immigrants in Snohomish and Skagit County. Arcora is privileged to be partnering with LETI through grant funding, community events, SmileMobile clinics, and more.

I had a chance to chat with Marisol Bejarano, Health & Wellness Coordinator at LETI, about their partnership with Arcora and how funders can support community-based organizations as they make meaningful progress toward equity.

How has Arcora Foundation supported LETI?

“Our partnership with Arcora Foundation has allowed LETI to have a more extensive outreach within the community by offering additional services in high demand. Arcora supports our community programs, events, and programs that help ensure that we can continue our work within the community. 

“In our Latino community, it’s no secret that there is a considerable gap when it comes to dental resources as well as other health resources. That’s why we were more than happy to say “yes” when LETI was offered the opportunity to host the SmileMobile van at our Lynnwood location. 

“Oral health is such an essential aspect of overall well-being, and it was an excellent opportunity for our community to get started in their oral health journey after many years of not having the opportunity to see a dentist.”  

What advice do you have for other funders looking to support community-based efforts? 

“Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Small organizations are often passed over because it can be harder to connect with them, as we have limited staff and space, unlike larger organizations. Our advice is to be persistent, patient, and flexible in connecting with organizations that work hand-in-hand with the local community—a community that larger organizations may not be able to reach. 

“Likewise, small organizations shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to larger organizations or funders with the needs of their community. Often, larger organizations are looking to be more involved in the community but don’t know how to do it. Be diligent in advocating for your community because no one will understand it better than you. 

“Thank you to Arcora Foundation for the support and trust in community programs and outreach. Organizations like yours help LETI continue to work within our community to help educate, empower, and support those who need it most!” 

Arcora Foundation’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion work is based on three interrelated parts: learning, operationalizing, and partnering. Our engagements with organizations and community members don’t end after one event or listening session. In this approach, we continuously integrate feedback into our work. What’s most important is that we are a thoughtful and beneficial partner in helping more people achieve their full health potential. 

Shared goals for positive change.

In this work, I’ve learned that “you must go slow to go fast” are words to live by. Building valuable, two-way relationships takes time. Once those relationships are formed, we can be more efficient in our shared goals and desires for positive change. This is especially true when the perception might be foundations and grant makers have unbalanced power dynamics or covert agendas. Many of our deepest partnerships have grown over years if not decades. In this time, we’ve learned to listen with an openness to change—and have community expertise guide how the relationship develops. 

I look forward to meeting with more of you—and perhaps sharing some good coffee and food in the process. If you have any questions or ideas on how we can support your work, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at MGonzalez@ArcoraFoundation.org.  

About Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) takes place September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latino community. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 2022 is focused on “Building Prosperous and Healthy Communities.” Arcora Foundation honors the diverse people and cultures who make up Washington state’s Latinx communities in our work to build healthier futures for all, with no one left behind.

Arcora Foundation awards $500,000 in grants to help address unmet dental care needs

Child receives care from community health center dentist

Grants enable expanded access to essential dental care at two Puget Sound clinics, underscores value of community health centers.

Greater access to essential dental care will soon be available in Snohomish and Pierce counties. Residents who face barriers to preventive oral health care and dental treatments will have more options.

Arcora Foundation—which advances oral health across Washington state—awarded a total of $500,000 to two community health centers to help expand capacity and access to care. The two non-profits—Community Health Care in Pierce County and Community Health Center of Snohomish County—will help expand dental access in both regions for families with lower incomes, seniors on fixed incomes, veterans, Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, and rural residents.

“Communities across Washington state have unmet care needs,” said Arcora Foundation President and CEO Vanetta Abdellatif. “With partnerships like these, together we can help ensure more people reach their full potential for good oral and overall health with no one left behind.”

The $500,000 in grant funding is part of Arcora Foundation’s long-term, statewide effort to increase dental care access. Arcora has invested more than $10 million in grant funding to community health centers and nonprofit clinics throughout the state, including in King, Spokane, Clark, Clallam, Whatcom, Ferry, and Yakima counties.

Oral health is essential to overall health.

A healthy mouth is more than a nice smile. Good oral health is one of the most visible indicators of socioeconomic status and health equity. Poor oral health is linked to heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and other chronic conditions. Visible decay and tooth loss for adults can affect employment opportunities, nutrition, self-esteem, and how others perceive you. For children, painful cavities can affect school attendance, speech patterns, nutrition, self-confidence, and oral health in adulthood.

More care options and efficiency for patients.

Community Health Care in Pierce County will use their $250,000 grant from Arcora Foundation for a new clinic in downtown Puyallup. It will provide whole person care with integrated dental, medical, and behavioral health services. Once completed in spring of 2024, the new clinic will have 8 open and 4 closed dental operatories to accommodate an estimated 20,000 dental visits a year.

“Over the last 10 years, Arcora Foundation’s vital financial support has allowed us to treat 190,715 patients with 502,125 visits,” said Jeff Reynolds, DMD, Community Health Care dental director. “With this grant, we will continue to help more people with barriers access dental care.”

The $250,000 grant Community Health Center of Snohomish County received from Arcora Foundation will go toward the expansion of its Everett-Central Clinic. The redeveloped clinic will add dental services, eliminating the need for patients to make medical and dental appointments at multiple locations. The dental clinic will include 12 new dental operatories and provide approximately 13,100 new dental patient visits annually. The opening date is set for mid-August of 2022.

“Arcora’s grant allows us to connect more people to dental care when and where they need it,” said Sue Yoon, DMD, chief dental officer for Community Health Center of Snohomish County. “This is a major step in making patient access to dental and medical services easier, which benefits everyone.”

The importance of community health centers.

Community health centers are essential to providing quality medical, oral, and mental health care to communities that are underserved. Aug. 7-13 is National Health Center Week. This observance raises awareness of the accomplishments of health centers across the country each year.

Thanks to community health centers, people who might not otherwise have access to or afford it receive compassionate and comprehensive care. Throughout Washington state, more than 1.2 million patients receive care at more than 350 community health centers each year.

About Arcora Foundation

Arcora Foundation advances oral health across Washington state. We are the foundation of Delta Dental of Washington, and the state’s largest foundation dedicated to this cause. We center our work in equity to achieve good oral health for all. Through partnerships, we focus our prevention and access priorities on racial and ethnic communities—specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color—where disparities in oral disease and access to care are significant. Our mission is in our name: bending the arc of oral health toward equity. Learn more at ArcoraFoundation.org.

About Community Health Care

Community Health Care is a nonprofit healthcare system that has been serving the people of Pierce County since 1969. At Community Health Care, no one is denied care due to inability to pay. Uninsured and under-insured patients are billed on a sliding-fee scale based on income and family size. In 2021, a total of 46,337 patients were served through 167,149 patient visits, utilizing our 6 medical clinics, 4 dental clinics, 1 school-based clinic, and a mobile unit. Our mission: to provide the highest quality health care with compassionate service for all. To learn more, visit www.commhealth.org

About Community Health Center of Snohomish County

Community Health Center of Snohomish County (CHC) is a non-profit, Federally Qualified Community Health Center providing medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral health, and additional ancillary services to nearly 70,000 individuals with 243,049 visits in 2021. For over 35 years, CHC has provided services to Snohomish County residents who face barriers to health care with the mission to provide our diverse community with access to high quality, affordable primary health care. CHC operates seven medical primary care clinics, two medical walk-in clinics, six dental clinics, and five pharmacies, located in convenient locations in Arlington, Edmonds, North Everett, Central Everett, South Everett, and Lynnwood. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 425-789-3789 or visit www.CHCsno.org.

Welcome to our refreshed website and new logo

Arcora Foundation centers our work in equity and collaborates with partners to achieve good oral health for all. This strategic direction applies to not just our initiative work, but to how we share information and resources with partners like you. 

Equitable communications are clear, accessible, and designed with user needs in mind. We took this to heart when refreshing our look and digital presence. In updating our website, we had three goals in mind: 

  • Align content with our strategic plan
  • Improve the navigation and resource placement to better serve partners and the public. 
  • Update the look and feel in line with user experience best practices—like accessibility and readability. 

While the types of resources we share remain the same, the way you access them may have changed. Below are some improvements you’ll notice on the site. 

New logo with mission tagline. 

Did you see our new logo in the upper left corner? It includes our mission in the tagline: Bending the arc of oral health toward equity. We developed this version of our logo to better reflect our strategic direction and the work we do. 

Moving forward, this will be the primary logo in our communications. On our site, we included a page where you can download it and the other versions of our logo. You’ll also find our guidance on which logo to use depending on the situation.  

Interactive homepage layout. 

The purpose of our website is to be a hub of relevant oral health resources for you. We’ve added several ways to access information that may be most valuable to you, including buttons and feeds, on our homepage.  

Screen grab of Arcora Foundation homepage.

Language translation. 

Language is a common barrier to access oral health care—as well as oral health education. To make our content more accessible to non-English speakers, we’ve added a Google Translate tool to all pages of our website. 

Use the translate tool in the footer to translate any webpage into more than 130 languages. 

Screen grab of Arcora Foundation webpage translated into Korean. At the bottom of the image, the Google Translate menu is expanded with "Korean" highlighted in blue.

Simplified navigation.  

We’ve improved our top-level navigation, making it easier to find the pages partners use most. For example, you can now find content like Data and News in just one click. 

Screen grab of Arcora Foundation website. The cursor is hovering over the top menu item "Data and News." There is a green drop down menu below with white text. The three sub-menu items are "Data Dashboards" "Data Reports" and "News."

Latest Foundation information. 

We’ve updated and expanded content under Our Work and Who We Are to ensure you’re receiving the latest information on Arcora Foundation. Key page updates include topics like: 

Screen grab of the Initiatives webpage. The heading on the screen grab reads "Click the initiatives below to learn more about access additional resources." There are two columns below the heading. The left column has a green background with  black text reading "Prevention Initiatives." The right column has a yellow background and black text reading "Access Initiatives."

New brochure order process.

Order free print materials for your organization through our online portal—which now saves your contact and shipping information to make reordering and record keeping simpler. Explore our robust library by visiting our Educational Materials page. 

Choose View Printed Materials to see all available materials and download PDFs. Once you are ready to order, the Order Printed Materials button will bring you to our portal login. 

Need an online ordering account? Choose Sign Up at the bottom left of the login, and we’ll walk you through the process of registering your organization. Find full directions on our how-to guide

How to: Navigating Arcora Foundation Educational Materials

Equitable communications also require continuous feedback and updates. We look to you to share any concerns or pain points you experience while using our website. Please share your feedback at info@arcorafoundation.org.

Juneteenth celebrates freedom

The holiday points to need for continued work toward oral health equity.

Juneteenth—or June 19—is this weekend. It commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. I hope your celebrations are filled with joy, community, and remembrance. 

The legacy of slavery in our country is long, complex, and painful. Racism and other systems have created barriers and disparities—especially for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC)—in education, housing, income, and health care. These and other social, economic, and environmental factors—known as social determinants of health—have major effects on overall health and health outcomes. 

Disparities show the need for equity. 

When it comes to oral health in Washington state, research shows some residents—BIPOC people in particular—have opportunities for healthier smiles. For example, among second and third graders, Black children experience untreated tooth decay at a rate of 18 percent. That is nearly twice the rate among white children—10%. Among people 18 and older, 41% of Black adults had at least one permanent tooth removed compared to 36% of white adults. And among people 55 and older, 74% of Black adults had at least one permanent tooth removed compared to roughly 50% of white adults.  

At Arcora, we center our work in equity to achieve good oral health for all. We work with partners to ensure everyone can enjoy good oral and overall health with no one left behind. 

Support for communities through partnerships.  

We are excited to partner with Women of Wisdom Tri-Cities to raise awareness about good oral health at a Juneteenth celebration in Eastern Washington this year. Women of Wisdom is a charitable human services organization in Richland that serves BIPOC people in the region. 

“Women of Wisdom is partnering with Arcora Foundation to bring social justice and equity surrounding oral health care to Eastern Washington,” said Chauné Fitzgerald, CEO of Women of Wisdom Tri-Cities. “Our goal is to change the trajectory of oral health so that, in the future, everyone can enjoy the benefits of good oral health,” she said. 

Arcora is supplying Women of Wisdom with oral hygiene kits—which include toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss—to distribute for free at the Juneteenth event. The focus is to provide oral health and other resources—like vaccinations, grocery cards, and health education—to people who are low income and underserved. 

“We are working with Arcora Foundation to bring access and awareness to oral health care and oral disease prevention,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re striving for 100% access and no disparities,” she said.  

Freedom is a bedrock principle of our country. For Black people, Juneteenth represents the difficult journey toward freedom that continues to this day. Freedom includes the ability to reach your full health potential. Arcora is proud to support our partners who continue this journey. They help make our communities more equitable for everyone—especially BIPOC people—where they live, learn, work, worship, and play. 

Vanetta Abdellatif
President and CEO, Arcora Foundation

Culturally appropriate care helps expand dental access

During May, we’re celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In a post earlier this month, we showed you how we collaborate with health leaders to advance oral and overall health for Washington’s AAPI populations. In this post, dentist and Arcora Foundation Board Trustee Dr. Ji Hyung Choi shows you how he expanded access to care with the Foundation’s support.  

Lived experience influences quality of care.

I am a first generation Asian American who grew up in Eastern Washington. I have experienced first-hand the difficulties our Asian American and Pacific Islander populations face in accessing culturally competent dental care in some counties. These access barriers are especially challenging for our Pacific Islander neighbors.

My ability to speak Korean and understand the culture helped many Asian patients seek care at the locations I served. Knowing they were receiving treatment from someone who understood their culture and could communicate in their native language put them at ease. 

As a clinician, I attended numerous AAPI health fairs and local events. The aim of these events was to: 

  • Promote good oral health and diet. 
  • Offer information on how to access care where the patients live. 
  • Provide oral health screenings. 
  • Assess any oral health needs they might have.

Breaking down barriers: Arcora advances oral and overall health for all.

Arcora Foundation has always supported many of these events. Through oral health prevention and access initiatives, the Foundation is on a mission to bend the arc of oral health toward equity across Washington state. As with AAPI people, oral health care disparities exist for others. Data from the Foundation helps tell that story, so we know who needs additional resources to reach their full health potential:

  • Access to oral health care across the state and who faces barriers.  
  • Percent of people with dental insurance
  • Health disparities in the state’s racial/ethnic groups like AAPI populations; for example, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 2nd and 3rd graders experience decay at a rate of 75%—the highest of any racial/ethnic group in the region. 

In addition to providing these important data, Arcora Foundation has invested heavily to advance oral health. Since 2017, community, nonprofit, and tribal clinics received $10 million in grant funds to support dental care and oral health projects at to serve more patients—particularly Black, Indigenous and People of Color who experience oral health disparities and face challenges accessing dental care.

This funding supported health centers across the state, including the one where I worked. It also resulted in nearly 108,000 patient visits since 2017. Community and tribal dental clinics affected by COVID-19 received an additional $4.5 million in 2020.

Oral disease is mostly preventable. The work of organizations like Arcora Foundation makes more healthy smiles possible.

Headshot of Dr. Ji Hyung Choi
Dr. Ji Hyung Choi

Dr. Choi is a dental educator and the Chief Dental Officer at Columbia Basin Health Association—a Federally Qualified Health Center providing care to financially and socioeconomically underserved populations.