Unspoken Smiles Fellowship

We provide solution to inadequate access to dental care, viable career and earning opportunities for women in developing countries worldwide

Photo of Jean Paul Laurent
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Unspoken Smiles Foundation

Year founded

2014

Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $250k - $500k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

Headquarters location: New York City

Location(s) of impact

Haiti: Jacmel/Port-au-Prince
Romania: Barlad
Kurdistan: Slemani
El Salvador: San Salvador

Website

www.unspokensmilesfoundation.org

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/unspokensmiles/

Twitter URL

https://twitter.com/UnspokenSmiles

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

In low-income, underserved communities, tooth decay is widespread affecting nearly 44% (half) of the world's population. Many of them including children suffer with untreated disease, and many more are at risk of disease, often because they don’t understand how to take care of their teeth and gums or are not getting routine preventive care. In addition, the barriers to accessing adequate dental care for the
populations served by Unspoken Smiles (limited number of dentists, no women participation) is a real issue.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The Unspoken Smiles Foundation believes that education and prevention are the ultimate keys to
extending good oral health to those who don’t have it. Responding to the need to dramatically
increase oral health literacy and access to preventive and restorative care among underserved
populations, the Foundation launched a Fellowship project to educate women between the ages of 18-35 as community health workers whose training focuses on oral health.

These Community Oral Health workers also known as "Unspoken Smiles Fellows" work in underserved rural, urban and native indigenous communities, and play a critical/key/vital role in oral disease prevention in their own communities. This is a working model that creates a culture change around attitudes towards oral health by providing ongoing dental care and education in schools; breaking cycles of poverty and empowering women through the fellowship leading to improved oral health through earlier intervention, better access to care.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Through the meticulous planning of our leadership, we have been able to grow a simple idea from a horrible tragedy into a global movement. To date, we have served over 5,000 children in our target communities in Haiti, Kurdistan, El Salvador, and Romania, that is over 5,000 children who now have a better opportunity to avoid awful, painful diseases like tooth decay or gum disease for the rest of their lives. Over 5,000 children who are less likely to miss school, or be unable to eat because of the pain from poor oral health. By the end of 2030, we plan to serve up to 1 million children in our target countries, as well as spread our services into other countries like India, Mexico, and Guatemala. With this project, we could enable an entire generation of individuals to have the lowest reported cases of tooth decay in history, and also increased dignity for patients and Fellows through better oral health, well-­‐paying jobs, and an elevated social status.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The Unspoken Smiles Foundation maintains the highest standards of financial responsibility, and we
focus on financial ethics, efficiency, and resource maximization. Our most significant growth over the next couple of years will be focused on the Unspoken Smiles Fellowship. With successful implementation of our Fellowship program and through the sale of products, from toothbrushes to other Unspoken Smiles patented products on our e-commerce page, we can create a stable and sustainable source of income and find long-term success in effectively serving the communities in which we work. This type of focus over the next two years will allow us to serve millions of children and set us up to move into more under-served communities worldwide.
Funding: 20% Individual donors and 80% Corp. gifts

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Our organization sets itself apart through our focus on building a long-lasting mission project
that not only benefits children, but their communities as well. Where groups like Bianca’s House operate through annual clinics that utilize non-indigenous volunteers, we go to each community with the intention to employ and train the indigenous residents who can carry on our work even when we are not around, taking into account the unique environment, challenges, and opportunities of each country.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

1. Activism birthed by tragedy
Jean Paul made a visit to Haiti in March of 2011, barely a year after the earthquake. While there, he noticed the children, surrounded by distressing conditions, were still able to smile. But he noticed these smiles were severely deteriorating from a lack of proper dental care. Jean Paul didn’t think it was right for such pure joy to be ruined by poor oral health and so he came up with the idea for Unspoken Smiles knowing behind each of those smiles, an unspoken story was waiting to be told.

2. With a cause and a name it was time to make change
Since its creation in 2014, the pilot has been such a success that we have now moved our operations to many locations nationally as well as other internationally.

3. Moving forward
The ultimate goal of Unspoken Smiles is to reach millions of at-risks individuals in need of dental services worldwide by 2030.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact

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Photo of Prakash Tyagi

Dear Jean - your project idea is great. It its a need that is not often talked about. I have a few questions:

1. The smile fellows - what are their backgrounds, literacy levels? What are their competencies after training?
2. How are smile fellows received in the community? How do local Governments look at them?
3. Is fluoride contaminated water also one of the problems in your areas? If it is, how do you address that?
4. What smile fellows exactly do in communities?

Thanks,

Prakash