Grant #404

Makers Make Masks

June 22, 2020

How To Use A Crisis To Help With Another Crisis Or Two

When the history of this time is written, the racial inequities built into the criminal (in)justice system and the prison industrial complex will be obvious to all.

The people who run Refoundry have been doing what they can long before the current focus on how unfair it all is.

Refoundry trains formerly incarcerated people to repurpose discarded materials into home furnishings and mentors them into their own business or career path, helping to break cycles of incarceration and poverty in communities most impacted by them.

But when COVID began devastating the inmates and staff of jails and prisons, Refoundry did a quick pivot.

Their idea for the Makers Make Masks (MMM) Project works like this: Refoundry provides sewing machines, kits, computers, headphones and smartphones to 20 formerly incarcerated people. Instructors will soon have them making washable, adjustable fabric masks for people inside New York’s Rikers Island and the Los Angeles County Jail.

Our grant is helping to pay for supplies, and everything’s ready to roll as soon as they hear from their partners who need to sign off in the Departments of Correction.

Unless you’ve deliberately avoided the news, you know that historic inequality in the making of law and the enforcement of order is on stark display.

This project will help reduce recidivism as well as reducing the spread of the deadly virus, both of which disproportionately harm people of color.

We think Refoundry is awesome because the philosophy is so inclusive and hopeful, welcoming all genders, a wide range of ages, regardless of the nature of the conviction that led to incarceration.

Follow their lead in reimagining reentry, and follow them on the socials: @Refoundry on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Category: Activism, Community, Entrepreneurship, Social Impact



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders