The Dental Pipeline program was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) response to a nationwide challenge from the U.S. Surgeon General. In 2000 the Surgeon General called on dental care providers to meet the needs of populations who lacked access to care. The following year, RWJF’s Dental Pipeline began funding dental care in underserved communities, while increasing dental school enrollment of low-income and under-represented minority students.

The Dental Pipeline program was a two-phase project. In Phase I, 11 dental schools joined with community clinics and practices that care for low-income patients; senior dental students practiced in their communities through service-learning rotations. RWJF funded eight additional dental schools in Phase II.

In this preface, authors Bailit and Formicola describe several stages—from initial funding to evaluation—of the Dental Pipeline program.

Key Findings:

  • Effective operations were an essential component of successful programs.
  • The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided scholarship support for low-income and under-represented minority students.
  • The average five-year grant award was $1.3 million per school, with an additional $100, 000 per school.

RWJF and its partner, the California Endowment (TCE), contracted a nationally recognized group of health services researchers from the school of public health, University of California at Los Angeles, to evaluate the Dental Pipeline program. Their report is a guide for dental schools wishing to establish, expand, or improve their Pipeline-related programs.