Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation (DDCOF) announced that it will provide $3.4 million in funding over three years to 29 Colorado nonprofit organizations to support projects designed to advance oral health equity in local communities.

Social determinants – such as race and ethnicity, income, geography and age –  impact Coloradans’ oral health and their ability to access regular dental care. The DDCOF grantees were selected because they serve populations that have been historically overlooked and experience significant oral health disparities. They also demonstrated proven or innovative solutions to overcome barriers to accessing oral health care or preventing tooth decay, two of the foundation’s strategic focus areas. Of the 29 grantees, 14 are located in urban areas of Colorado, 11 in rural areas and four provide services statewide.

“Our inaugural open funding created an opportunity for organizations to share what they needed to improve health in their communities. The 62 applications submitted revealed a significant need for dedicated oral health funding statewide,” said Allison Cusick, executive director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “According to the Colorado Health Institute, just 63 percent of low-income Coloradans report good physical and oral health. Thousands of Coloradans live in dental health professional shortage areas. Disparities like these result in oral health inequities. By funding innovative projects designed to improve community oral health, we will better understand what Coloradans need to be healthy and help achieve the foundation’s mission of advancing oral health equity.”

The newly funded organizations and their projects include Grand Beginnings’ Meeting Milestones Initiative (Hot Sulphur Springs), providing oral health screenings and education to children and pregnant women living in Grand and Jackson counties.

In addition to this group of grantees, DDCOF funds a variety of projects that address oral health disparities. This includes the Colorado Medical-Dental Integration (CO MDI) Project, funding the Frontier Center 4 Health at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and partnering with other foundations to fund Cavity Free at Three, a program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.