(DALLAS) — The Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry has received two grants totaling $384,000 to perpetuate two components of its Bridge to Dentistry program, which offers dental career awareness and academic enrichment opportunities to pre-kindergarten students through college graduates.

The Summer Predental Enrichment program, designed to help high school and college students become more competitive for dental school admission, received a nearly $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Post-Baccalaureate Program was awarded $184,000 over the next two years from Texas Guarantee’s (TG) Public Benefit Program to assist in preparing college graduates for dental school.

“Our College is grateful for the assistance these grants will provide to components of Bridge to Dentistry, one of our College’s most vital outreach and enrichment programs,” said James S. Cole, D.D.S., dean of HSC-BCD.

The RWJF funds will allow additional students to participate in the College’s Summer Predental Enrichment program, and a portion of the grant will help fund the educational programs coordinator position, which oversees all pre-college components of Bridge to Dentistry.

HSC-BCD is one of eight dental schools recently selected to receive RWJF funding to help improve diversity among the student body or increase access to dental care in underserved areas through community-based education. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

The HSC-BCD Post-Baccalaureate Program was selected for funding from TG based on its potential to increase educational access to students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, among other criteria.

“Dr. (Ernestine) Brooks has made a compelling case for the need for additional programming to help minority and financially disadvantaged students find success in dental school, with long-term potential impact that will help develop a more diverse, culturally sensitive health professions work force,” said Kristin Boyer, director of TG’s public benefit operations.

TG intends that the primary beneficiaries of the proposed programs be students from low- to moderate-income families. In addition, the competitive process favors proposals that also aim to serve the needs of first-generation college students or students from groups traditionally underrepresented in undergraduate and graduate education, including nontraditional learners.

Founded in 1905, Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas is a college of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. HSC-BCD is a nationally recognized center for oral health sciences education, research, specialized patient care and continuing dental education.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its seven colleges located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

— LaDawn Brock