A $1 million grant from Delta Dental of California will endow a new scholarship at the UCLA School of Dentistry.

The Delta Dental Scholarship for Opportunity will be awarded annually to students in UCLA’s four-year D.D.S. program who have demonstrated strong academic achievement in the face of adversity, and who have demonstrated an interest in working in underserved communities. The first scholarships will be awarded during the current academic year.

“We are proud to support the UCLA School of Dentistry’s mission to educate and train the next generation of dental practitioners,” said Kenzie Ferguson, Delta Dental of California’s vice president for foundation and corporate social responsibility. “This new scholarship will help us achieve our broader mutual goals of increasing access to oral health care, especially for those in underserved communities, and providing opportunities for oral health education.”

The grant is the second major contribution from Delta Dental to UCLA in recent years. In 2018, the company awarded UCLA Dentistry $1.5 million to support community-based clinical education. That grant — the company’s largest to a dental school at the time — has enabled fourth-year UCLA dental students, overseen by credentialed dental practitioners, to treat Medicaid recipients and those who struggle to access dental care.

Both grants were made through the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of California and its affiliated companies.

“Once again, through Delta Dental’s extraordinary support, we are designing a better future for dentistry by supporting future dentists,” said Dr. Paul Krebsbach, dean of the School of Dentistry. “This scholarship will make a real difference in the lives of our student awardees and therefore directly and positively impact the communities in which they will serve.”

Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a professor of dentistry and the school’s associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion, said, “We are proud of our longstanding commitment to address the dental workforce needs of underserved communities by recruiting, enrolling and graduating students. This wonderful scholarship aligns perfectly with the UCLA School of Dentistry’s long-standing commitment to recruit, enroll and graduate students from underserved communities.

“In our experience, many of these students know first-hand the plight of families and communities in critical need of accessible oral health care. Their passion to make a difference in their communities inspires us, and Delta Dental’s endowment will create more opportunities for them to become agents of change.”