Colgate-Palmolive Company and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) have announced a major gift that will initiate the endowed Freeman, Grant, Franklin Scholarship, which supports students from underrepresented, minority groups to pursue their Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree.
The scholarship honors prominent African American figures in HSDM’s history, the school said. In 1869, Robert Tanner Freeman was the first African American in the United States to graduate from a dental school. George Franklin Grant became the first African American member of the Harvard University and Harvard School of Dental Medicine faculty in 1884. And, Dolores Mercedes Franklin was the first African American woman to graduate from HSDM.
Colgate’s contribution of $210,000 has enabled the scholarship’s activation. The first scholarship will be awarded to a student beginning in the 2021 academic year and continue on an annual basis, helping HSDM to admit the best and brightest students regardless of their financial means, the school said.
“Increasing diversity among the dental profession is critical to our goal of realizing a cavity-free future for all,” said Noel Wallace, chair, president, and CEO of Colgate-Palmolive.
“With a brand that is in more homes than any other, Colgate understands our opportunity and responsibility to make oral health more equitable and accessible around the world,” Wallace said.
“From the products we develop to our longstanding Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures community program to scholarships like this, we are determined to build a healthier and brighter future for people everywhere,” Wallace said.
Despite representing more than a third of the United States population, Black and Hispanic dentists and those who identify as another race or ethnicity only represent a combined 9% of professionals in the industry, according to the ADA.
“The Harvard School of Dental Medicine has a long legacy of embracing diversity. Colgate’s generous support will help further our ethos to promote greater diversity, inclusion, and belonging in dental education and in oral health research,” said HSDM dean William Giannobile.
“It enables us to take another important step toward providing the much needed financial resources for our underrepresented students to pursue their dreams in oral healthcare delivery,” Giannobile said.