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As the global pandemic arrived in the U.S., the Foundation for Endodontics’ Board of Trustees was saddened and disappointed by the cancellation of AAE20 in Nashville. The cancellation made sharing the Foundation’s news and accomplishments with the endodontic community difficult and as such, there was a smaller celebration than anticipated for the end of the Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign. As state shutdowns increased in longevity, shaky economies and difficult job markets created a sense of nervousness among endodontists who were eager to find PPE and return to their offices.

Despite not meeting the 2019-2020 fundraising goal, members of the Foundation’s outgoing and incoming Executive Committees swiftly came together to discuss how the Foundation might provide relief and a sense of confidence to its community. This small group of leaders and philanthropists was led by the Foundation’s Immediate Past President Dr. Mary Pettiette and comprised of Drs. John M. Nusstein, Kirk A. Coury, Nava Fathi, Margot T. Kusienski, and Keith V. Krell. During initial brainstorming sessions, the group considered organizational budgets, various state timelines for reopening, and the job market. It was determined that the cohort of residents graduating with their endodontic certificates in 2020 would be facing unique circumstances, an uncertain economy, and the potential to be unable to work for large stretches of time due to sickness, shutdowns, or the delay of their graduation. Collectively, the group recommended to the Board of Trustees that a modest, personal relief grant of $500 would be the best way to support this group of emerging endodontists.

As the idea developed, a staff team worked to quickly set up the new funding opportunity. Once the funding opportunity was ready to publish, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees formally voted on enacting the COVID-19 Relief Grant. As the opportunity was approved, congratulations and celebratory comments overlapped on the busy Zoom call. Within just four weeks, what started out as a gesture of goodwill had turned into a fully realized funding opportunity.

With much to reflect upon during her two-year tenure as the Foundation’s President, Dr. Mary Pettiette is especially proud of the COVID-19 Relief Grant. “It is important that all endodontists understand the Foundation exists to help support their career. Providing the relief grant during this unprecedented time, was the most direct way to impress that upon the specialties’ newest generation. It is our hope that this grant will offer some relief and instill confidence that they have joined a dental specialty filled with colleagues that look out for one another.”

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees is thrilled with the positive response to the COVID-19 Relief Grant. They hope this funding opportunity instills confidence in the specialty’s newest practitioners and promotes a sense of goodwill and collegiality within the specialty that carries on for generations to come.