Delta Dental recently announced the inaugural award recipients of the $725,000 awarded through the Delta Dental Institute Oral Health Diversity Fund. This is the first national investment fund that is focused on guaranteeing more children from historically underrepresented groups have the opportunity to explore a career in oral health. The four organizations awarded the money are:
- Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, whose Diversify Dentistry Youth Summit™ offers high school students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds the chance to learn more about dentistry through hands-on learning and mentorships.
- Hispanic Dental Association, whose program, BOLD: Building Our Leaders in Dentistry, is a pre-dental school program that helps introduce students to the field of dentistry
- NAF, whose program, Promoting Oral Health Pathways, will establish a new curriculum within their Academy of Health Sciences.
- Society of American Indian Dentists, whose program, Telling the Story of a Path to Dentistry: Connecting AI/AN Dentists with AI/AN Youth, helps address the lack of American Indian/Alaska Native mentors in the oral health industry.
“As the nation’s oral health leader and its largest oral health philanthropist, Delta Dental embraces the opportunity to address the needs of the diverse communities we serve and to contribute to more equitable health outcomes,” said James W. Hutchison, President & CEO of Delta Dental Plans Association. “Our inaugural group of awardees will help ensure our future dental professionals more closely represent the communities they serve, so that all Americans can have better oral and overall health.”
The oral health industry has long struggled with creating a racially and ethnically diverse environment. Despite close to 30% of the U.S. population being made up of people who are either Black or Hispanic, less than 10% of dentists across the country are Black or Hispanic. Through this new program, Delta Dental is hoping to increase this number and create a more diverse atmosphere in the oral health workforce.
“By investing in organizations that are building opportunities for youth from diverse communities to consider and prepare for a career in oral health, Delta Dental aims to close an important gap in the oral health workforce and improve health equity,” said Jason Daughn, Delta Dental Plans Association’s Chief Public Affairs Officer on behalf of the Delta Dental Institute. “We were impressed by the passion and creativity of the applicants to the Delta Dental Oral Health Diversity Fund and look forward to supporting our awardees.”
The Delta Dental Oral Health Diversity Fund will open its next round of applications in Spring 2024. To learn more about the fund, visit www.deltadentalinstitute.com/fund.