(Joplin, Mo. – August 10, 2022) Kansas City University (KCU) has been awarded a second, notable grant within six months from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the United States Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration.
The latest grant, totaling nearly $1.5 million is part of HRSA’s Predoctoral Training General, Pediatric and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene program. It will support KCU’s efforts to improve the oral health of people who may be vulnerable, underserved and those living in rural communities with limited access to dental care through the KCU College of Dental Medicine to be located in Joplin, Mo.
“All communities deserve access to oral health care,” said Linda Niessen, DMD, MPH, MPP professor and founding dean, College of Dental Medicine and vice provost, Oral Health Affairs. “This competitive award from HRSA recognizes KCU’s commitment to educate the next generation of dentists and improve access to oral health care in rural America.”
The grant will fund KCU’s new initiative titled Educational Navigation for Rural and Interprofessional Community Health (ENRICH) and will be implemented over five years.
The goal of the ENRICH program is to recruit, enroll and graduate primary care dentists who may themselves represent historically underserved communities and who will deliver patient-centered dental care in rural and underserved regions, including the four-state region of Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas, Northeastern Oklahoma, and Northwest Arkansas.
The national demand for dentists will outpace growth in the supply of dentists in 2025. More than 46 million people in the US live in Dental Health Professions Shortage Areas (DHPSA) and lack basic access to dental care. To eliminate these shortages, 7,000 dentists are needed with another 8,600 needed to provide adequate care in 2025.
KCU’s College of Dental Medicine will enroll its first class of students in Fall 2023, and will address the significant and growing oral health needs of the four-state region. As part of the dental program, students will participate in an innovative public health curriculum designed to educate students and address oral health disparities and inequities.
“We are honored to receive this grant from HRSA,” said Edward R. O’Connor, PhD, MBA, FACHE provost and executive vice president for Academic, Research, and Student Affairs. “The competitive nature of this granting process speaks to the outstanding abilities of our KCU dental faculty and the entire university community in creating and implementing a curriculum to address oral health disparities by recruiting students from areas who know and understand the needs and challenges of rural America.”
KCU recently received another competitive grant from HRSA’s Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program to provide funding early training related to coping and resiliency, particularly in rural and underserved communities. KCU was one of 34 grantees and the only institution based in Missouri. The university will receive $1,576,449 over the course of three years.
Note: This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1.5 million with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.
Sharon M. Gordon, DDS, MPH, PhD, associate dean of academic affairs and research acted as principal investigator.