Grants & Programs

Minnesota Dental Foundation. A Practice of Giving.

The Minnesota Dental Foundation (MDF) offers financial support and in-kind services for outreach programs that meet the mission of the MDF by providing dental services to underserved populations, by promoting dental health initiatives, or by supporting dental profession career and volunteer opportunities. The focus is on providing resources that will make lasting improvements in the oral health of underserved Minnesotans and enhance the dental profession in the state.

Each year the MDF Board of Directors reviews applications for grants that fit these criteria. Support for programs and oral health initiatives may change each year based upon issues facing the dental profession, but the core principle of benefiting the underserved remains constant. Since 2002, the Foundation has awarded over $3.3113 million in grants and/or in-kind services to fund 463 oral health initiatives.

2017 Grant Application

Photo: Receiving her first check from the Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program in February 2016 is Dr. Clarissa Sparkman (3rd from left) from Tom Rukavina (far right), a Commissioner of the IRRRB and former state representative who was instrumental in obtaining the funds. Also in attendance were Dr. Michael Zakula (left) from the Minnesota Dental Foundation and Mark Phillips, Executive Director of the IRRRB.

Funded Projects

Give Kids a Smile (GKAS)

Community and volunteer clinics receive funding and/or in-kind support for Give Kids a Smile, the two-day charitable program in February that provides free preventive and restorative dental care to children from low-income families. Grant monies help defray the costs for dental supplies and oral health education materials for the children. In 2016, 3,230 children were seen in 158 community and volunteer clinics as well as private dental offices. The value of the services provided was $1.725 million by 1,826 volunteers, which included 438 dentists. In addition, the MDF supports the administration of the program.

Minnesota Mission of Mercy (MnMOM)

The Minnesota Mission of Mercy (MnMOM) project sets up a huge temporary dental clinic in a different geographic area of the state each year.  In 2016, there were 1,391 patient visits provided by 841 caring volunteers at the Memorial Auditorium at Concordia College in Moorhead, resulting in $969,712 in free dental services.

Donated Dental Services (DDS)

Donated Dental Services (DDS) became a program of the Minnesota Dental Foundation in 2011. It has been a program of Dental Lifeline Network and the Minnesota Dental Association since 2003. DDS provides comprehensive dental care in private dental offices for people with disabilities or who are elderly or medically fragile and cannot afford to pay for the needed dentistry. In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, 209 patients received $1,019,288 in comprehensive care by 429 dental volunteers. This is the first time the value of the provided dentistry was over $1 million in a single year.

Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists (DMD) Dental Education Loan Repayment for Service Program

The Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists (DMD) Dental Educational Loan Repayment for Service Program is a competitive education loan repayment for service program of the Minnesota Dental Foundation in collaboration with the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. Selected recipients must practice in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) in Minnesota for 5 years to be eligible for up to $200,000 in qualified loan repayment. A total of $2,000,000 was committed by the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation to fund this program in 2015. The application process for 2017 is now closed but you can get information at

Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program

The Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program is funded by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) to help dentists pay back educational loans if they are willing to practice in the Taconite Assistance Area (TAA) of northeastern Minnesota for at least five years. There are five dentists in the TAA who have benefited from this program, which started before the Minnesota Dental Foundation assumed responsibility of the program. Currently, no grants are available.

Retired Dentist Program

The Retired Dentist Program is a pilot program funded by the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation to assist retired dentists with continuing to give back to the community through participation in providing care to the underserved.

Minnesota’s Heroes Orthodontic Program

A program, in collaboration with Smiles Change Lives, which provides free orthodontic treatment for surviving spouses and children ages 8-18 of Gold Star families (families who have a family member that was lost in conflict, post 9/11). For further information, contact

Community Outreach

A number of community-based clinics and outreach programs provide critical dental services to children and adults who otherwise would not have access to oral health care are partially funded by the Minnesota Dental Foundation.

Allied Dental Education Programs

Several organizations in Minnesota receive grants to help with resources to assist with educating dental auxiliaries while providing care to the underserved.

2015 Grants

In 2015, MDF gave $404,025 in cash and/or in-kind services to 58 projects. Some of the recipients may have received assistance on more than one project. Of those dollars, funding was provided for five internal programs, the Minnesota’s Heroes Orthodontic Program, the Minnesota Mission of Mercy, Donated Dental Services, Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program and the Retired Dentist Program. Funding for the collaborative project with the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, the Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists Loan Repayment for Service Program, came directly from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation to the participating dentists. This amount for 2015 was an additional $800,000 to four new dentists who set up practices in HPSAs in Minnesota. All of the funded programs help increase access to care for underserved populations or help to build a sustainable oral health workforce in Minnesota.

Apple Tree Dental, Fergus Falls
Apple Tree Dental, Rochester
C.A.R.E. Clinic, Red Wing
Central Lakes College, Brainerd
Children’s Dental Health Service, Rochester
Children’s Dental Services, Minneapolis
Community Dental Care, Maplewood
Doorstep Healthcare Services, St. Louis Park
Eastside Family Clinic, St. Paul
Family HealthCare, Moorhead
Good in the Hood, Bloomington
Good Samaritan Dental Clinic, Rochester
Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, Minneapolis
Hibbing Community College Dental Clinic, Hibbing
Jericho Road Ministries, Minneapolis
Lake Superior College – Dental Hygiene, Duluth
Lifetrack/Lifetrack Resources, Inc, St. Paul
Minneapolis District Dental Society, Sharing and Caring Hands, Apple Tree Dental, Minneapolis
Minnesota Dental Association – GKAS, Statewide
Minnesota State University – Mankato, Mankato
Mission Outpost Dental Clinic/ Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville
North Shore Health Care Foundation (Oral Health Task Force), Grand Marais
Northern Dental Access, Bemidji
NorthPoint, Minneapolis
Northwest Technical College, Bemidji
Open Door Health Center, Mankato
Operation Grace MN, Roseville
Osseo Intermediate School Community Service Day, Osseo
Ready Set Smile (formerly ADT Kids), Minneapolis
Red Lake Indian Reservation – Jan Carlson, Red Lake
Red River Valley Dental Access Project, Moorhead
Rice Regional Dental Clinic, Willmar
Rose Country Dental, Pillager
Sharing and Caring Hands, Minneapolis
St. Cloud Technical College Dental Clinic, St. Cloud
St. Joseph’s Community Dental Clinic, Park Rapids
The Initiative Foundation, Little Falls
UMN Community-University Health Care Center, Minneapolis
Union Gospel Mission, St. Paul
University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, Minneapolis
West Central Dental Resources/Caring Hands, Alexandria

Internal Programs:
Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists Loan Repayment for Service Program
Donated Dental Services (DDS), a program of Dental Lifeline Network
Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program
Minnesota Mission of Mercy (MnMOM)
Minnesota’s Heroes Orthodontic Program
Retired Dentists Program

See Grant Archives