ODA Foundation aims to strengthen profession, oral health in Ohio through giving campaign in honor of ODA’s 150th anniversary

Dr. Jim Cottle, an associate professor at the OSU College of Dentistry

Dr. Jim Cottle, an associate professor at the OSU College of Dentistry, speaks with a dental student at The Ohio State University. Ohio’s dental students expect to graduate with an average debt of $260,000. ODAFhelps offset that debt through scholarships.

For 150 years, the Ohio Dental Association has been an advocate for Ohio’s dentists and the improved oral health of all Ohioans. In honor of the Ohio Dental Association’s 150th anniversary, the ODA Foundation is asking members to donate $150 (or more) to the foundation through its “Building Our Future 150 at a Time” campaign.

“The Ohio Dental Association is 150 years old,” said Dr. Kim Gardner, chair of the ODA Foundation Board of Trustees. “It is safe to say that none of those dentists who had the foresight to establish our organization are around to see how we are doing. There was no charitable dental foundation 150 years ago. Not many years ago a group saw a need and established the ODA Foundation to support dental education and those who need dental care and can’t afford it. Your contribution today is a gift to the future. It will be put to work in the lives of our youngest colleagues. It will be put to work to serve the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. Thank you for your foresight and generosity – THEY certainly will.”

The ODA Foundation was created in 1995. To date, the ODA Foundation has given $955,000 to worthy students and organizations that improve oral health in Ohio. This year, the Foundation will reach the milestone of awarding a total of more than $1 million in grants and scholarships.

Supporting quality dental education has been a priority of the Ohio Dental Association since its inception. In the 1800s, many dentists had no formal training and learned as apprentices. By 1901, Ohio boasted as many as five dental schools but many were financially strapped and poorly run proprietary schools. The Ohio State Dental Society (as the ODA was then known), working with the board of dental examiners and established universities, sought to stabilize and formalize dental education to ensure the art and science of dentistry was being advanced and taught competently to students. This effort led to the creation of the dental schools that currently exist at The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University.

The ODA Foundation has continued this support of dental education by providing scholarships to worthy students. The Foundation began awarding scholarships to dental auxiliary students in the early 2000s, and in 2002 it awarded its first scholarship for a dental student. Since then, the Foundation has provided 298 scholarships totaling nearly $560,000 to dental and auxiliary students.

Dr. Jim Cottle, an associate professor at the OSU College of Dentistry, recently became a full-time faculty member after having been a part-time faculty member for 30 years while in private practice.

“As a full-time educator, I can tell you the dental students of today are very, very impressive,” he said. “They are smart, nice, respectful, fun and very eager to learn. They also have a sense of wanting to reach out and help others in less fortunate situations, many having demonstrated this attribute in previous volunteer work or mission trips. Our profession will be in excellent hands going forward.”

Ohio’s dental students expect to graduate with an average debt of $260,000, and for most young dentists, the burden of their debt is much higher than their annual salary.

“I have donated to the ODA Foundation in the past but since I became a full-time faculty member, I see how great the need is to try to help the students ease their debt while pursuing their education,” Cottle said. “As I have learned more about the Foundation and its excellent work, I volunteered to help. That is why I recently donated to the ‘Building our Future 150 at a Time’ campaign. A relatively small donation to the Foundation has a huge impact on so many students.”

Dr. Sunny Pahouja, a general dentist in Cincinnati, received a scholarship from the ODA Foundation in 2010.

“Earning a scholarship from the ODA Foundation was huge and unexpected,” he said. “I had no idea and to be able to get several thousand dollars to help pay for tuition and expenses was very helpful. Dental school is very expensive and most of us have to rely on loans to help pay for dental school. Getting the ODA Foundation scholarship meant I could take out a little less in loans. I am very thankful that I was given the opportunity to earn that scholarship.”

Today, Pahouja owns a private practice and employs a team of eight. His office is now active in Give Kids A Smile and other initiatives to help improve access to care for the underserved. Since the office opened in January 2015, it has donated over $15,000 in dental services.

He said he has always believed in organized dentistry and feels that he can be successful in his private practice with the help of the ODA.

“The ODA advocates on my behalf so that I can practice high quality dentistry the way I envision it,” he said. “ODA’s voice is one of the strongest in the nation. It works on our behalf at the local, state, and national level. Its advocacy efforts give us a voice to help navigate a very complicated system.”

In addition to providing scholarships, the ODA Foundation has provided 72 grants totaling $396,000 to access to care initiatives in Ohio. The Foundation has provided grants to nonprofits across Ohio to support programs that increase access to needed dental services for the general public and special populations including veterans and children with special needs.

“The support the Foundation provides with the grants awarded each year goes a long way to helping those in underserved areas in Ohio,” Cottle said. “This is such important work. We are all so fortunate to have chosen this profession which has provided us the opportunity to serve others and enjoy a great lifestyle. For me, I see the high caliber of dental students today and am encouraged for the future of dentistry in Ohio, but the students need our help, and so do a large underserved population here in Ohio. I strongly encourage all members to look into all the efforts the ODA Foundation has made in the past 20 years. It is truly remarkable. Since 1995, the ODA Foundation has awarded more than $950,000 in scholarships and grants. All of these generous donations have stayed in Ohio to help promote dental education and help those in need. I strongly encourage all ODA members (and non-members) to consider giving back to our profession and make a contribution to the ODA Foundation. I can’t think of a greater way to help so many for such a small sacrifice. Think of the possibilities.”

The ODA Foundation is using the “Building Our Future 150 at a Time” campaign to continue improving upon its legacy and to help ensure the next 150 years of dentistry are great for the dentists of the future.

The “Building Our Future 150 at a Time” campaign has three levels of giving:

  • Investor in the Future: $150-$499
  • Leader of the Future: $500-$1,499
  • Founder of the Future: $1,500+

Levels are determined based on cumulative giving between Nov. 1, 2015 – Oct. 31, 2016 (with the exclusion of donations to a designated fund), and 2016 ODAF Raffle six-pack tickets are recognized at the Investor in the Future level. Those who have already made a donation to the Foundation in 2016 can combine that gift with an additional donation to reach $150 or more to be recognized through the “Building Our Future 150 at a Time” campaign.

“Building Our Future 150 at a Time” campaign donors will receive special recognition throughout the year, including in the ODA Foundation’s 2016 Annual Impact Report, which is made available to all ODA members.

“A gift to the ODA Foundation shows that you care. You care about the future of your profession. You care about those who cannot afford needed dental services. Our whole profession is built on ‘caring,’ and the Foundation is built on doing something about it. Thank you for your generosity,” Gardner said.

To learn more and make a donation, visit www.oda.org/community-involvement/oda-foundation/150th-anniversary-campaign/.