Serena Williams has partnered with the T-shirt company Bella+Canvas to donate at least 4.25 million masks to schools nationwide.
The initiative, a partnership with Scholastic and the National School Board Association, is aimed at serving K-12 schools in low-income communities.
The sponsors have pledged to provide “breathable” and “comfortable” face coverings to eligible schools for free and to all other schools at a discounted rate. The reusable masks are made from soft, lightweight T-shirt jersey fabrics and come in nine colors.
“Masks are critical to getting kids back to schools safely this fall,” reads a statement on the Bella+Canvas website. “Kids that can’t go back to school because they don’t have a mask not only miss out on education, but they may also lose access to government-funded meals and daycare.”
The 4.25 million masks minimum represents the number of students living below the poverty line.
CDC-approved recommendations for returning to school can also be found on the Bella+Canvas website.
Hosting lunches and physical education classes outside, moving teachers between classes instead of students and initiating a bell schedule that signals hand-sanitizing breaks throughout the day are among the suggestions for school administrators.
“We wanted to create a comprehensive solution to help support those returning to school and provide easy access to masks and free educational material when schools open,” Bella+Canvas co-owner and co-CEO Marco DeGeorge said in a press release. “While we are committed to donating at least 4.25 million masks, our goal is to increase that amount exponentially through the support of other organizations that want to help. We are honored to partner with Serena on the #MasksForKids program. In addition to being a champion on the court, Serena is a champion off the court as an entrepreneur, role model and philanthropist. Serena shares Bella+Canvas’s passion of supporting under-served communities, and together we will bring education and support to 13,000+ schools districts through the #MasksForKids program.”
The face coverings will go to students, teachers and school staff.
“The #MasksForKids program is a resource for every school to access affordable masks, and is also providing educational materials about masks to all 115,000 schools and 54 million students in the US,” Williams said. “I’m grateful to be able to help educate our schools about this resource, and to be given the opportunity to serve so many students.”