As the corporate foundation of Delta Dental of Colorado, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation (DDCOF) is committed to achieving change through grantmaking, impact investing, building coalitions, data and research, policy, and leadership — none of which can be done without strong community partners and a committed team. In 2021, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation launched a five-year strategic plan focusing on prevention, place-based access to oral health care (in the San Luis Valley and Northeast Denver), and workforce development.
The inaugural 2021 grantee cohort has provided a second year of data and reporting, which our evaluation partner, the Colorado Health Institute, analyzed to create our 2022 Evaluation Report. Two points that stand out are that DDCOF grantees served nearly 100,000 Coloradans in 2022 and that our grantees succeeded in reaching our focus populations, particularly people of color. Here are the key recommendations and opportunities from our 2022 Evaluation:
- Establish “Learning Labs” to foster two-way learning and collaboration among grantees from the three initiatives.
- Continue to fund organizational capacity-building.
- Invest in workforce initiative efforts to expand the oral health workforce in rural areas.
- Increase targeted place-based oral health care access initiative efforts in rural areas that are most in need.
These evaluation results can help us continue to learn and improve the implementation of our strategic plan as well as inform our future direction and priorities to have even greater impact on oral health in our state.
Over the last few months, our team has welcomed several new members who are ready to hit the ground running by supporting our grantee partners and continuing our legacy of being Colorado’s leading oral health funder. Our foundation team includes:
- D.J. Close, Executive Director
- Brittany Marcum, Administrative Assistant
- Mara Holiday, Senior Program Officer
- Carla Castillo, Senior Program Officer
- Veronica Contreras de Raya, Senior Marketing Specialist
- Now Hiring, Health Policy Manager
As we begin planning for a new grant cycle in 2024, we’re committed to working with our current partners while staying curious and applying lessons learned from our first two years of evaluation. We look forward to seeing our $5-million investment in diversifying the oral health care workforce through our workforce initiative take shape in 2024 and 2025. With the auspicious timing of Universal Preschool (UPK), we plan to double down on our prevention investments, working with partners to implement best pre-K oral health curricula and tactics. Last, we continue to focus on place-based access to oral health care in the San Luis Valley and Northeast Denver, known dental professional shortage areas. Here, we will continue to expand resources, build greater understanding of the importance of oral health, and lift up community partners focused on this space.
We have a great path mapped out ahead, and we encourage you to reach out to learn more, share your feedback with us, and join us in elevating the oral health of all Coloradans.