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Community Water Fluoridation: Lessons for Improving Philanthropic Policy Advocacy

Increasingly, foundations are looking to policy solutions as a strategic and effective means to create lasting, meaningful change. However, policy advocacy can be a challenge, depending on the issue and an organization’s tolerance for risk—particularly in partisan climates. Community water fluoridation, an evidence-based, highly effective public health intervention that improves oral health and reduces health disparities, is an issue health philanthropy has partnered with state and local champions with varying degrees of success. Successful efforts avoid classical partisan divisions despite environments that can become highly contentious. However, win or lose, significant lessons are learned and experience gained. After many years of this policy work, there is a sizable body of work for health grantmakers to reflect on.

This webinar discussed where community water fluoridation stands today, the lessons learned for philanthropy, how policy campaigns can successfully engage on public health issues in a bipartisan manner, and recommendations for next steps to continue moving community water fluoridation efforts forward. Speakers included: Matt Jacob of Jacob Strategies, David Johnson formerly of Arkansas State Senate, and Hollis Russinof of American Academy of Pediatrics.