New Project Offering Free Face-Coverings to Multiple Colorado School Districts

Partnerships support job training, addresses rural needs and highlights importance of outdoor industries

DENVER -- As COVID-19 cases continue in Colorado, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) has partnered with The North Face, Phunkshun Wear, Colorado Creative Industries and the Mile High Workshop to provide approximately 4,000 cloth face coverings for the Colorado Department of Education, free of charge, for distribution to teachers and students across the state while also stimulating the economy and creating jobs. 

Face coverings are critical to slowing the transmission of COVID-19 and this unique partnership will address several challenges facing Colorado’s workforce and the health and safety of our public schools, while also embracing opportunities to highlight the arts, advance job placement programs and provide needed face coverings to rural communities.

The North Face is funding the program through its giving arm, the Explore Fund, as part of the brand’s commitment to donate to outdoor organizations with the most critical need in light of COVID-19. Phunkshun Wear provided the dye printing, graphic transfer, cutting, packaging and non-textile components for the masks (Elastic, cinch beads, poly bags) for the masks and Hornwood Inc. donated the fabric. Mile High Workshop’s Cut and Sew program will create the final face-coverings. 

Mile High Workshop’s mission is to create employment opportunities and provide job training for members of the Denver/Aurora community seeking to rebuild from addictions, homelessness, and incarceration. Colorado Creative Industries is providing student artwork from their “face mask design challenge” to be screen printed on the masks.

“It was an honor to work alongside the other parties involved in this initiative, working together to provide masks for those in need during this difficult time,” said Jason Badgley, CEO of Phunksun Wear. “It was inspiring to see how passionate each party is about this project and how proud our staff was for Phunkshun Wear to be involved.” 

Irma Reyes of Mile High Workshop added, "It was a lot of fun sewing these face masks and we are very impressed by the designs. From the beginning of the pandemic, learning to sew cloth face masks has been an opportunity of hope and a way for us to feel like we are able to help out in an unfortunate year of feeling like everything is out of our control. It has been an honor to be a part of this project."

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) will distribute the face-coverings to nine school districts that have the highest percentages of free and/or reduced lunch rates (K-12) in their respective regions of the state. [Full list of school districts available upon request].

“This unique partnership brings together government, businesses and nonprofits to address a real need and help provide out-of-work individuals with training and job opportunities and improve public health, while simultaneously supporting outdoor recreation manufacturers,” said OREC Director Nathan Fey. “It continues to highlight the importance and far-reaching impacts of the Outdoor Recreation Industry in improving the health and wellness of Coloradans.”

This mask project compliments the Colorado State Emergency Operation Center’s ongoing distribution of KN95 and surgical masks for K-12 educators and other school staff. 

FOR MEDIA: Interviews, artwork and list of schools available upon request.