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The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions
Receives a Two-Year Grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Washington, DC (May 31, 2011) - The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions Receives a Two-Year Grant of $250,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support the continuing work of the Alliance to increase the diversity of the health professions workforce.  This grant will make it possible for the Alliance to direct specific attention to expansion of the numbers of mid-level dental providers.

One in four Americans is a member of a racial or ethnic minority group, with African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians making up more than a quarter of the nation’s population.   The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2050, there will be no majority population in the United States.

But health care for many Americans in these racial and ethnic minorities has not improved sufficiently in our increasingly diverse society.  In too many cases, race or ethnicity still influence health status, access to health care, and health outcomes. 

The lack of minorities within the health professions is considered one of the major contributors to health disparities.  Significantdisparities exist within the dental and allied dental workforce.  Minorities are disproportionately underrepresented comparedto their numbers in the general population. Currently only 7% of dentists are underrepresented minorities.

Oral health is imperative for overall wellness.  Although preventable, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease.  Tooth decay is twice as common among children from low-income families than those from higher socioeconomic groups.  Strategies to address the dramatic gaps in access to quality, affordable dental care, particularly in underserved areas in our country’s cities and rural communities, must include new types of dental care providers.

“Our current production of dental providers is simply not keeping pace with the needs of our citizens.   Through our State Alliance partners and their programs we will continue to improve the recruitment of underrepresented populations to dental careers. We must look toward new models of care,” said Louis W. Sullivan, M.D. Chairman of the Sullivan Alliance.  

"One promising approach to increasing the availability of dental care is through mid-level training programs which create avenues for well-educated and well supervised dental professionals,"  said Sullivan Alliance Board member Jeanne Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D. and Director, Center for Equity and Diversity, American Dental Education Association.

”The Sullivan Alliance will be a key partner for improving access to dental care for the nearly 17 million children who go without each year,” says Dr. Gail C. Christopher, vice president of program strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “New models of care can both increase the number of children and families who receive dental care, and offer a career pathway for children of color as another way to enter the dental career pipeline.  The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.  Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa. 

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The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions is a national non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the numbers of health professionals from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds available to the nation’s health workforce. The Alliance is especially committed to increasing the availability of health care professionals in minority communities and in rural and inner city Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).