Chancellor Johnson Announces SUNY Campuses Creating Over 55K Face Masks for New York State’s Healthcare Systems and Organizations in Need

April 29, 2020

Over 30 Campuses Contributing to the Cause and Continuing Production to Donate Needed Masks

FIT Alumni and Students Leading Production and Providing Mask Instructions for Others to Follow at Home

Albany – The State University of New York is answering the call for much needed face masks for front line and essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, over 30 SUNY campuses have produced and donated more than 55,000 masks to hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, other healthcare organizations, and essential businesses throughout New York State. Alumni and students from SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology are among those leading this effort as part of Sew4Lives, an alumni-led volunteer group that has made more than 10,000 masks, including a large donation to SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s College of Medicine, which is currently a COVID-only hospital.

"With creativity and goodwill, students, faculty, and staff across SUNY have repeatedly and emphatically answered the call for personal protective equipment, producing and donating nearly 55,000 face masks, which are crucial to the safety of the heroic health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic," said SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson. "I am immensely proud of our campuses for mobilizing in crisis, for harnessing our collective expertise and resilience, and for being there for the communities we serve when it counts most."

"In times of trouble, it is heartening to witness the ways in which our humanity can shine," said Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of FIT. "Sew4Lives, a fast-growing volunteer group that includes FIT alumni and students, among others, is a wonderful example of SUNY's great generosity of spirit, and I am proud of the two FIT alumni who have used their multiple talents—and zeal to serve—to lead this critical effort."

About Sew4Lives

Sew4Lives, an initiative led and managed solely by volunteers, was launched in response to COVID-19 and the need for personal protective equipment, or PPE. The volunteer founders of Sew4Lives are designers Caroline Berti and Karen Sabag, both alumni of FIT. Sew4Lives volunteers include FIT alumni, students and friends, in addition to other dedicated individuals from diverse backgrounds. To date, Sew4Lives has made more than 10,000 face masks for frontline and essential workers from a variety of industries in New York State, including healthcare. Additional types of PPE are under consideration as Sew4Lives continues to evolve. If you are interested in donating fabric or are aware of an organization in need of masks, please contact For updates, follow @sew4lives on Instagram.

In addition to FIT, face masks are being produced at about 35 SUNY campuses, including: SUNY Adirondack, University at Albany, Alfred State College, Alfred University, Binghamton University, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Broome, Buffalo State College, University at Buffalo, Cayuga Community College, Clinton Community College, SUNY Cobleskill, Columbia-Greene Community College, Cornell University, Corning Community College, SUNY Delhi, Empire State College, Farmingdale State College, Genesee Community College, Herkimer County Community College, Hudson Valley Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College, Nassau Community College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oneonta, Onondaga Community College, SUNY Orange, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Poly, SUNY Potsdam, Purchase College, SUNY Schenectady, Stony Brook University, and SUNY Sullivan.

For more information on how SUNY is responding to the COVID-19 crisis, please visit the following webpage.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

Share this:


Holly Liapis
Email the Office of Communications