How Impact Startups Can Restart the Economy – Medical Alley Association

How Impact Startups Can Restart the Economy

Breathe99, FINNOVATION Lab, and The Food Group partner to bring better masks to essential workers and volunteers

As the economy opens before vaccine rollouts are complete, public health officials are emphasizing the need for better protection for frontline workers. “We still have very high levels of community spread. Providing better masks to the people at highest risk who work in essential sectors of the economy is among the most important things we can do right now. And with the risk of future variants that may partially evade the immune response, having a better mask available is prudent for all of us,” explained Dr. Abraar Karan, a leading public health expert from Harvard.

Food services, food processing, and public transportation are examples of industries most impacted by COVID-19, but employees in these sectors face challenges in accessing high-performance masks due to distribution, cost, and other barriers.

That’s why Breathe99 is partnering with FINNOVATION Lab and The Food Group to launch the Essential Mask Program: a public health initiative that donates the innovative, industrial-grade B2 Mask to organizations working in food access.

“Our mission is to make high quality public health goods more accessible to those who need it most,” said Alison Lee, the Director of Operations at Breathe99. “We believe that by providing these employees with better masks it will have a huge impact on their health and on the course of the pandemic in our communities.”

The program will start by supporting Twin Cities Mobile Market, a food security initiative managed by The Food Group. “We’re grateful to partner with Breathe99 so that our staff can get food to those who need it most, safely and with peace of mind,” said The Food Group’s Executive Director, Sophia Lenarz-Coy.

Connie Rutledge, CEO of FINNOVATION Lab, says “As an ecosystem builder, we are thrilled to connect this impact-driven startup with a reputable and effective partner. This initiative is a great example of why we think socially conscious businesses are the path to sustainable economic growth.”

The Essential Mask Program is part of Breathe99’s impact initiative to make better respiratory protection available to everyone. You can support the program by buying a B2 Mask or contacting us regarding direct donation opportunities.

About Breathe99

Breathe99 is the Minneapolis startup behind the B2 Mask – one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2020. Their impact-oriented business model strives to empower people to lead full, healthy lives through access to innovative and sustainable health products and services. For more, visit


FINNEGANS House, the home of FINNEGANS Brewing Company, FINNEGANS Community Fund and FINNOVATION Lab, is the champion of Minnesota social impact businesses. FINNEGANS sells great beer and gives profits and in-kind support to the Community Fund, which turns this support into food by distributing funds to alleviate hunger, and FINN Lab supports emerging social entrepreneurs with skill building and community. For more information, visit

About The Food Group

The Food Group is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit focused on using nutritious food to strengthen community. We work at the intersection of food access, equity, and nutrition issues related to food and hunger in 32 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We break down barriers to growing good food locally and getting good food to those who need it most. Visit for more information.

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