A Million Masks: Coronavirus Support Fund

A Million Masks is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to secure emergency Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline hospital workers in New York City. 

On Tuesday,  March 17th, Ben Wei received a text message from his friend, a doctor at a Bronx hospital, saying: 

“I’m pretty sure I have coronavirus. Unfortunately, my hospital won’t test me until I have registered a 104- degree fever because there aren’t enough tests. My co-resident had to transport a coronavirus patient without a mask because our hospital ran out. I’m pretty sure he’s infected now too.”

He continued to receive text messages like this from his college roommates (many of whom are frontline healthcare workers) and decided to make a change. 

During the same period, Jinny, like many other NYC residents, started to really feel anxious and scared when she heard about the lack of supplies in hospitals and how frontline workers were asked to bleach and re-use masks. Her friend who is an NYU Langone surgeon mentioned that her hospital, along with all other hospitals in the city, were about to face a critical supply shortage in PPE. The city was becoming a disaster, and she decided to make a change and put herself forward.

Wilson had already been ordering masks for his doctor and nurse friends in hospitals. He teamed up with Jinny and Ben to combine sourcing efforts and help out in a bigger way. In a group friend chat, Ben, Jinny, and Wilson came together and from this shared passion to help those in need,  #AMillionMasks was born.

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Right now, in New York City, many hospitals have already run out of supplies for its frontline healthcare workers — the doctors, nurses & healthcare staff who are treating COVID-19 patients. Some have told us that they are most likely sick with COVID-19, but there aren’t enough tests for them to get a definitive answer. Now, they’re telling us they're wearing the same mask for four days. 

As New Yorkers, we couldn't just sit around and watch — we’re fighters.

We began to speak with medical professionals and hospital administrators and have identified that their greatest needs are masks — it’s their first line of defense when dealing directly with COVID-19 patients. 

We started this fundraising campaign to provide a solution to this supply gap, and are pledging  100% of our GoFundMe donations to source US NIOSH-approved N95 Respirators and KN95 Respirators from CE-certified factories and delivering PPE directly to NYC’s busiest Emergency Rooms and Intensive Care Units. 

Our Founding Team


Ben Wei, Co-founder, is a non-profit founder and tech entrepreneur, born and raised in NYC. He is a graduate of Harvard University and went on to launch Access Code (now known as Pursuit.org), a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on providing in-demand coding to underserved communities. 

Jinny Jeong, Co-founder, is an investment banker and a global citizen. She was born in Seoul, raised in Shanghai, and earned her Bachelor’s degree from Waseda University in Tokyo. She now works and resides in New York City and has a great appreciation for the medical professionals who are standing on frontlines and putting their lives at risk to care for those in their communities during the COVID-19 outbreak.  

Wilson Chang, Co-founder,  is a venture capital investor and entrepreneur focused on sustainability and social impact. He has started a number of companies, including Sunlight Financial, one of the leading residential solar financing platforms in the US. Wilson has degrees from UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania, and he is a proud resident of New York City.

Executive Volunteer Committee

Anthony Liu, Operations:
Anthony is a Director of Acquisitions and Development at Hines, and was selected as a Local Ambassador to OneHines to promote diversity and inclusion. He is the Treasurer of the Associate Board for Apex for Youth. At AMM, Anthony manages the processes and advises on the decision making of AMM’s finance, supply, and allocation/ delivery teams. 

Rich Shiu,
Finance: Rich is the founder of a small private equity fund investing in many areas such as real estate, real estate development, restaurants, taxi medallions, small businesses, and startups. Based on his entrepreneurial background, he has developed strong professional skills in business planning, venture capital, asset management, and securities.

Jenny Fu,
Supply: Jenny is a Senior Consultant within EY’s Strategy & Business Transformation practice, focusing on helping consumer banks modernize and go digital. She is a proud native New Yorker, hailing from Forest Hills, Queens. At AMM, Jenny oversees the vetting of suppliers and the AMM supply chain. 

Sumbul Alvi, Allocation & Delivery Ops
: Sumbul is a senior software engineer at Snap Inc. She has also developed technical systems to manage donor logistics and finances for cancer research charity organizations in Toronto, Canada, and has been involved in the NYC tech community for the past 5 years to lead, advise and mentor for various Women in STEM initiatives. At AMM, Sumbul leads inventory, allocation and delivery partnership logistics. 

Sharmin Nipa Gani, Marketing &  Social Media
: Nipa is a first-generation Bangladeshi American leading Social Media Strategy and Execution for a GroupM holding company focusing on technology and new business. Prior to this, she led Paid Social teams for L’Oreal, IKEA and Energizer brands as well as a variety of progressive social initiatives working to tackle economic inequality. At AMM, she oversees the organization's social media presence and marketing initiatives. 

Chi Zhao, Chief of Staff: Chi is the founder and CEO of Hokku PR. She leads the communications and strategy for popular VC-backed startups and blockchain companies. At AMM, Chi oversees the organization's day-to-day operations and helps to facilitate its internal and external communications. 

Advisors 

Jonathan Chu is the Managing Director of Chu Enterprises, one of the largest stakeholders in NYC's Chinatown. Jon is a 3rd-generation Chinatown New Yorker, an entrepreneur, and a graduate of Harvard University. He is the Chair of the Board of the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) as well as a Full-Board Member of Manhattan's Community Board 3. 

Yao King is Founder and Chief Investment Officer of YKAM, a multi-strategy hedge fund based in New York City.  He was most recently Global Head of Program Trading and Managing Director at Deutsche Bank where he oversaw a multi-billion dollar global book of risk.  He also leads the #GoldOpen movement on the East Coast, a non-profit venture that supports diversity in media that has rallied tens of thousands to theaters to see their stories told.

Shafqat Islam is the CEO of NewsCred, a marketing technology company headquartered in NYC. NewsCred has over 200 employees and was founded in 2007. He and his team started a similar initiative to raise money from NYC startups and investors to supply masks to local doctors and nurses. Given the overlapping goals, he’s been volunteering for AMM and helping ensure both projects are learning from each other and getting masks into the hands of healthcare workers as quickly as possible. 

Ryan Leonard Pei is a Director of Product Strategy and Management at Anthem, Inc., and oversees the external P&L, product development, and market launch of Anthem’s Provider Partnering and Value-Based Care Solutions. Prior to joining Anthem, Ryan held the position of Assistant Director of Hospitals in the Office of the Executive at Kings County Hospital Center where he co-led internal SAS and Health Analytics Users Groups. Ryan has volunteered his expertise to guide AMM’s allocation and delivery operations and works with the executive team to give insight into the healthcare industry. 

Rivas Goldstein, LLP Health Care Law, provides representation and advocacy in New York and New Jersey health care law matters involving regulatory agencies, Medicare/Medicaid appeals, licensing boards, fraud charges, contract issues, mergers and acquisitions, and business litigation.

Our Goals

The Greater New York region has over 200 hospitals and 1,400 residential-based healthcare providers. Overwhelmed doctors have told us that hospitals can go through as many as 20,000 masks a day. Today, hospitals are experiencing a massive shortage of supplies and need our help while they’re saving lives. 

Our goal is to acquire, distribute, and deliver a million masks to hospitals in NYC with the help of your donations!

If we surpass our goal, we will keep acquiring additional PPE for frontline healthcare workers until every last penny is spent.

Our Commitment 

We will be posting stories & photos of our donations, hand-offs, and the doctors you are helping on our Twitter (@a_million_masks ) and Instagram (@amillionmasks ).

Stories From The Field 

“The shortage of face masks is so severe that the CDC is now advising nurses and other health care providers that they can "use homemade masks" like a "bandana" or "scarf" "as a last resort" --  even though it admits the effectiveness "is unknown." - @GeoffRBennett, NBCNews White House Correspondent

“Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City told staff it had a week's worth of masks left on Friday [3/13], BuzzFeed News first reported. Five employees and three patients have been diagnosed with Coronavirus at the cancer hospital.” 

"There is such a shortage of masks -- we were finally given one per person. That one mask is supposed to last us for at least a week. We are told to reuse them each day, which completely puts us at risk. We are now disinfecting the mask ourselves after each shift -- wiping down with bleach before we start work again the next day." - NYC ER Doctor

#GetMePPE: Dr. Megan Ranney told @JohnKingCNN. "We need masks TODAY. We are pleading on social media, #GetMePPE, to keep me and my patients safe... [https://bit.ly/2J0PzJs ]

FAQ

What does success look like? 


If we can save one healthcare worker from being infected, we already consider ourselves successful. If a healthcare worker is infected, that means they will call in sick, meaning there is less coverage and reduces a hospital's capacity to properly take care of its patients, which has already begun happening. 

Our current primary goal is to get as many medical masks into the hands of frontline healthcare workers as fast as possible. We're hearing that most hospitals in NYC are either extremely low on supply or have already run out. Speed here is crucial. We also have been hearing that some hospitals around the country as well as other frontline essential workers are experiencing shortages as well. 

How will the funds be used? 

100% of the funds will go directly to facilitating the purchase and delivery of masks and other urgent Personal Protective Equipment for frontline healthcare workers at New York City’s largest hospitals. Our entire leadership team is donating their time and have foregone compensation for their work. No one on the leadership team for A Million Masks is benefiting financially in any way from this campaign. 

Why NYC first? 

"As of Thursday morning, there have been at least 33,066 confirmed cases of the coronavirus discovered in the state, including more than 20,000 in New York City. At least 310 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — a little less than half — of confirmed cases in the U.S." -- NY Magazine, 3/26/20

What have you accomplished so far?

(1) We've identified supply partners we plan on working with for the acquisition of US NIOSH-approved N95 Respirators and KN95 Respirators from CE-certified factories    

(2) We have built a comprehensive database of major hospitals in the NYC area and are in touch with many of the Chief Physicians of their Emergency Rooms & ICUs to understand their immediate needs.

(3) We have already begun distributing N95  masks and plan on working with supply partners to scale those purchases in the coming weeks.   We are constantly putting the money we raised to work. 

Why aren’t the hospitals & government ordering these masks directly? 

Hospitals, as well as government agencies, are trying their best to procure masks. However, due to supply chain limitations and global competition, they are currently experiencing extreme shortages. We are fortunate to have close relationships with many of the factories producing masks. 

To read more on what governments are doing: https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattperez/2020/03/19/president-trump-on-supplying-governors-were-not-a-shipping-clerk/#1e7875581af5

To read more about the mask feeding frenzy: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2020/03/30/i-spent-a-day-in-the-coronavirus-driven-feeding-frenzy-of-n95-mask-sellers-and-buyers-and-this-is-what-i-learned/

I’ve seen other charity efforts related to COVID-19. How is this one different? 

Your donation will go directly to support the acquisition of NIOSH-approved N95 Respirators and KN95 Respirators from CE-certified factories for NYC healthcare staff at the frontlines of COVID-19.  Because of the global shortage of masks & PPE, donating to a non-profit that strives to operate at the highest standard is the best way to ensure counterfeit products aren’t being donated to hospital workers. Unlike other charities, ours is related directly to the supply of NIOSH-approved N95 Respirators and KN95 Respirators from CE-certified factories, because we believe that protecting our frontline healthcare workers is the most important thing to do right now.  We will be sharing photos & videos of healthcare workers receiving the donated equipment, so you can see your impact on the local NYC community. 

How do you prioritize who receives the mask? 

The healthcare workers on the frontline of COVID-19 are those in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and in the Emergency Room. We try our best to donate masks to ICU & ER Units within NYC’s largest hospitals, as they are the ones who are likely to have the highest volume of cases. 

Are donations tax-deductible? 

Currently, donations are not tax-deductible. If you know of a 501(c)3 charity in this space that would like to sponsor our effort, we would love to partner with them. Until then, we have realized that the need is so urgent that we must move forward and hope that you will donate. This is subject to change, and we will be sure to update donors promptly.  

I am an ER/ICU healthcare professional at an NYC hospital that is currently treating COVID-19 patients. We are short on masks. How do we request masks? 

Fill out this form: http://bit.ly/ammppereq 

Aside from donations, how can we help? 

Feel free to follow us on social media: @a_million_masks  or on Instagram @amillionmasks  or share our cause with your friends!  

If you are an ER and/or ICU frontline healthcare worker, or a hospital supply administrator you can e-mail us with a subject headline “Hospital Professional: PPE Requests” at hospitals@amillionmasks.org 

If you want to volunteer to help us with NYC distribution you can e-mail us with a subject headline “PPE Distribution Help”. 

If you have a direct relationship with PPE manufacturers that can provide equipment at market costs, you can e-mail us with a subject headline “PPE Equipment Manufacturer”. 

If you are a member of the press or would like to connect us with a member of the press, you can e-mail us with a subject headline “Press Contact” to press@amillionmasks.org 

Follow us: 
Twitter: @a_Million_Masks 
Instagram: @aMillionMasks 
Facebook: @AMillionMasks
Hashtag: #aMillionMasks

Please direct your inquiries appropriately to ensure quickest response time: 

- team@amillionmasks.org for general inquiries.  
- press@amillionmasks.org for media and partnership inquiries 
- supply@amillionmasks.org for supply inquiries 
- deliveries@amillionmasks.org for delivery inquiries 
- hospitals@amillionmasks.org for hospital inquiries

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Fundraising team: A Million Masks (10)

Ben Wei 
Organizer
New York, NY
A Million Masks Inc 
Beneficiary
Catherine Kim 
Team member
Christina Traugott 
Team member
Elmhurst Hospital 
Team member
Jinny Jeong 
Team member
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