Alumnus Starts Mask Fundraiser to Benefit Students and COVID-19 Responders

August 18, 2020 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

An Elmhurst University alumnus has launched a fundraiser to sell university-branded face masks, hoping to benefit students and a national COVID-19 relief charity, and to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Nicholas Bank ’18, who is about to begin his second year of medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, started the fundraiser Schools for Slowing the Spread with some of his fellow medical students.

The volunteer group collaborates with colleges and universities to sell branded, reusable cloth face masks, and donates 100 percent of the profits equally between the college or university and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) COVID-19 Response Fund, which supports containment, response and recovery activities.

Proceeds from the sale of Elmhurst University-branded masks will benefit the Bluejay Nest Fund and the CDP COVID-19 Response Fund.

The medical students’ first effort, for Case Western, has sold more than 150 face masks and raised more than $1,500 in donations. The students since have started reaching out to their own undergraduate alma maters.

“When we started the fundraiser, we thought about what we as students could do to protect communities and do a little bit of good in these crazy times,” says Bank, who is originally from Carol Stream. “We thought, what better way to show school pride, slow the spread of the coronavirus and change lives for the better?”

Bank came up with the idea earlier this spring, after receiving a marketing email from a printing company he had worked with while attending Elmhurst. The company, which had created clothing for Bank’s personal-training business, had begun to make custom face masks. After making sure the masks were up to his standards—double-ply polyester and sublimation printing to stand up to repeated washings, with ear loop adjusters for a custom fit—Bank recruited several other student volunteers, set up an online storefront and launched Schools for Slowing the Spread.

The fundraiser will continue until the need for masks declines—and with flu season coming, that may not happen for a while, Bank says.

“I’m looking forward to raising funds for Elmhurst students,” he says. “This is a unique opportunity to unite our community, encourage social distancing etiquette, and support those most in need.”

To purchase Elmhurst University-branded masks and learn more about Schools for Slowing the Spread, visit

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