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Press Release

America’s Mask Challenge Provides Masks to Schools in 50 States

Alexandria, Va. (May 6, 2021) United Way Worldwide today announced that, nearly 28 million masks have been distributed among 167 school districts throughout all 50 United States, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as part of America’s Mask Challenge, which aimed to expedite mask delivery to Title I schools across the country during the second half of the 2020-2021 school year.

America’s Mask Challenge is a coalition led by United Way, Business Roundtable and the CDC Foundation to support America’s COVID-19 recovery. The effort was launched in December 2020 to support the safe return to the classroom for over 40 million students, teachers and staff and has gained momentum with the support of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. This challenge aims to alleviate some of the pressure on teachers and provide a critical resource that will allow schools to continue the reopening process and welcome students back safely. 

“United Way is proud to lead this coalition of business leaders to help support America’s school teachers and provide critical resources so they can safely continue educating our nation’s students and rebuilding our school communities in the wake of COVID-19,” said Suzanne McCormick, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. “United Way believes that protecting vulnerable groups in society, starting with our children and their educators, is not just a moral imperative, it is also practical. We will strive to reverse the disruptive impact that school closures have had on our children everywhere.”

Numerous U.S. companies, including Hanes Brands Inc, Progressive Insurance, Nasdaq, Union Pacific, Vistra, HaloLife, and others have participated in the challenge by donating funds and masks, in order to underwrite and deliver 200 million washable face masks to every student, teacher, and staff member in America’s 56,000 most under-resourced schools.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cloth masks in schools can help slow the spread of the coronavirus, along with other mitigation strategies like hand-washing, social distancing and regular cleansing and disinfecting of frequently-touched surfaces in schools and buses.

“The return to in-person learning requires a safe, welcoming environment that ensures our students – particularly those in Black, brown, Indigenous, rural and low-income communities – are not left behind,” said Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president. “With the help of the United Way and other partners, educators, school staff and other professionals have been able to get back into their classrooms with the proper CDC masking protections. That’s the first step toward keeping everyone safe so they can access the social, emotional, and academic benefits of being together in-person with their teachers and peers. We are so grateful to United Way.”

For more information on America’s Mask Challenge, please visit:

About United Way 
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. With global reach and local impact, we’re making life better for 48 million people annually. United Way is the world's largest privately funded nonprofit, working in 95% of U.S. communities and 40 countries and territories. That’s why we’re the mission of choice for 2.5 million volunteers, 7.7 million donors and 45,000 corporate partners. In the wake of COVID-19, we’re helping people stay in their homes, stock their pantries, and protect their lives and livelihoods. And we’re working to build resilient, equitable communities. Learn more at Follow us: @United Way and #LiveUnited.

Media Contact

Southerlyn Reisig
Director of External Communications 
(703) 836-7882