Delta Dental gives $1.5 million for dental hygiene programs, CNCC Rangely will benefit | CraigDailyPress.com

Delta Dental gives $1.5 million for dental hygiene programs, CNCC Rangely will benefit

— Improving public health in rural and underserved communities through better access to dental hygiene services is the aim of a $1.5 million dollar gift by one of Colorado's largest dental companies given to three community colleges including CNCC Rangely.

"It's going to be a great boost to our program," said CNCC President Ron Granger.

Helen Drexler announced yesterday that her nonprofit company — Delta Dental of Colorado — is making the donation to support dental hygiene programs offered by Colorado Community College System schools including Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely, the Community College of Denver and Pueblo Community College.

This means that over the next 10 years about $500,000 will be added to CNCC's dental hygiene program for purchase of equipment, Granger said.

In addition, he said that $1.2 million would fund an endowment with the interest used to provide scholarships.

The number of scholarships and the amount of each award will depend on how the endowment performs, but will be split equally among the three colleges, Granger said.

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"We are very happy about it. It's the result of a lot of work. We appreciate the system's coordination on this. The biggest need we have is on-going recruiting of faculty and this will be pretty helpful," said CNCC Dental Hygiene Program Director Kevin Dawson.

According to a news release from the Colorado Community College System the gift will be used to strategically advance the field of dental hygiene in Colorado by:

• Attracting and retaining top faculty to work in high-quality educational facilities and programs;

• Ensuring programs have current equipment, technology and supplies to foster a learning environment centered on evidence-based dental care; and

• Providing scholarships for dental hygiene students, prioritizing students who are committed to career paths in public health or community clinics, education, and/or in rural communities.

"This generous gift from Delta Dental of Colorado will greatly enhance the dental hygiene programs in Colorado Community College System," said Nancy McCallin, president of the community college system in the news release. "It will help to build our workforce throughout the state and strategically advance the field of dental hygiene."

Drexler made the announcement at the Phi Theta Kappa luncheon to honor the highest achieving students at the colleges.

"We are proud to invest in these dental hygiene programs that play such a key role in developing future public health leaders," Drexler said in a news release.

Delta Dental of Colorado is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1958 and serves over 1.2 million people to become the largest dental benefits provider in the state.

"Working with CCCS, we feel we can make a tremendous impact preparing students for careers in dental hygiene, especially in rural and underserved communities," Drexler said in a news release.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.