In order to increase access to dental care and dental education for Amish children in northern Indiana, a small team of IU dental school faculty and students has been making monthly trips to Shipshewana since 1996. In the early stages of the program children found to be in need of dental care were transported to a dental office in Elkhart. In 1997 the project became part of a $200,000, three-year grant funded by the Indiana State Department of Health, IUSD Oral Health Research Institute, the South Bend Memorial Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The grant was awarded to IUSD faculty member, Dr. Brian Sanders, and IU School of Medicine faculty member, Dr. Amy Shapiro.
A portion of the grant was used as a start-up fund to build a dental facility, The Community Dental Clinic, in the northern part of the state, where Shipshewana and other communities with large Amish populations are located. The Amish community also has contributed financially to the building fund; the project is being carried out with the approval and cooperation of the community's religious leaders, the Amish Bishops.
Fourth year dental students receive extramural credit by serving as volunteers who help to provide treatment. The Board of Directors of the clinic is composed primarily of representative of the Amish community, but also includes two members of the IUSD faculty; Dr. Brian Sanders and Dr. Karen Yoder. Dr. Amy Shapiro and Ms. Janet Muhlherin of the Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center at St. Vincent Hospital are also on the Board of Directors of the clinic.