JamesGrant Design
Revamping the Grantmaking Process


Oral Health America (OHA) has a long history of providing forward thinking support to nonprofit organizations in the oral health field. In order to continue this tradition, OHA contracted James Grant Design to provide a Human Centered Design training to 50 representatives from its partner organizations during their annual Share and Learn Conference. Attendees learned Human Centered Design skills while creating the “Perfect Grant”-an ideal system for funding nonprofits in oral health. The data collected during the process was used to refine OHA’s grant applications and support while serving as a springboard for an innovative project called “Year Two.”

Our Process

We immediately started looking for connective tissue with the focus of creating a workshop capable of filling two complex goals. Our project began by connecting with a sample group of OHA’s funders, staff, and grantees. This initial survey helped us understand how OHA was seen internally and externally. We organized these perceptions into a guide to help us understand who OHA is today, and to collect data to help them get to where they want to be in the future.OHA workshop


Armed with this understanding, we began crafting a workshop centered around building OHA’s strengths as defined by their community: innovation, receptiveness, and a unique role as an advocate and supporter of patients.




We knew OHA expressed these values through the grants and support they gave oral health providers across the country to work with at risk youth, so we decided that the best way to move forward would be to create a workshop that could improve the quality and effectiveness of their grants. The workshop engaged over 50 leaders from oral health providers around the country, teaching them the basics of human centered design while creating multiple outlines for the perfect grant.

The workshop was held partially at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, with the second day hosted in the Sheraton Hotel’s rooftop ballroom. We used round tables with participants broken into groups of 6-9. Each group was predetermined so each had a diverse skillset.


oha-workshop-4After two days of brainstorming, testing, and creating in Philadelphia the group was finally ready to report its findings back to OHA. While participants recommended changes to OHA’s current structure, the biggest request to come out of the workshops was for leadership. Participants generally felt that OHA did a good job with its grant process and wanted them to share their techniques with other grantmaking organizations.




OHA was able to use this information to create the basis improving future grant offerings while also educating industry partners about their already innovative grant process, thus allowing the entire oral health community to do their work more effectively.

Next Steps

After a successful workshop OHA decided to extend their contract with James Grant Design by offering a customized grant that includes Human Centered Design support to their partner organizations around the country. The “Year Two” project, seed funded by Procter and Gamble, received applications from coast to coast and will fund three Human Centered Design challenges over the next 18 months.

Project Description

Project Details