KN95 Mask
KN95 Mask (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A group of University of Michigan students started fundraising to purchase KN95 masks for frontline staff at nursing homes in Detroit last week, and plans to expand the project further.

A group of University of Michigan students are raising money to provide KN95 masks to nursing home staff and healthcare providers in Detroit through a project called the Blue Mask Initiative.  

Blue Mask Initiative, started in early May by University of Michigan students Adhavan Arivalagan and Akash Rau, has also partnered with similar groups from other schools, including Michigan State University, Northville High School, Detroit Country Day and Cranbrook, to raise money for their supplies 

Together, all the groups participating in the initiative have raised nearly $1,250, which the project’s leaders say could purchase 390 KN95 masks.  

Rachel Israel, a rising University of Michigan junior who is an alum of Hillel Day School and North Farmington High School, said she decided to join the project as a board member when she realized that many nursing homes are unprepared to face the coronavirus pandemic.  

“I spent the year volunteering at a nursing home in Ann Arbor,” Israel said. “I read an article that there were a couple cases [of COVID-19] at that nursing home that I was working at. I just remember all the people that I met and I made such a connection with them that it just kind of spooked me, and I was thinking that they don’t have any kind of gear that they need.”  

Courtesy Rachel Israel

Israel’s grandma also lives in a senior living homeIsrael said she felt lucky that her family was given the option to have her grandma come live with another relative for the time being.  

“But a lot of people, the only place they can really live is in one of those nursing homes, which are unfortunately not a great place during a pandemic, and they need the gear,” she said.   

Blue Mask Initiative has partnered with a doctor who has a connection to a mask supplier in Alabama. She will order the masks and ship them directly to nursing homes, Arivalagan said to JN  

“We’ve already pledged to [donate masks to] 20 nursing homes, but we’re thinking about reaching out to even more,” he said. The group hopes to expand to nursing homes in other cities aside from Detroit, including Flint and Dearborn  

To donate to the Blue Mask Initiative, visit or email  


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