The Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation has provided funding to support the efforts of some entrepreneurial University of California students to manufacture and distribute hand sanitizer – a product that is in high demand as COVID-19 expands across the globe.

Spearheaded by Abrar Abidi and Yvonne Hao, with the guidance of professors Robert Tjian and Xavier Darzacq, a team of enterprising Berkeley students began manufacturing hand sanitizer at the school. What began as a five-gallon-per-week voluntary effort quickly expanded to 300 gallons per week. Thus far, the students have furnished and distributed over 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to local homeless shelters, public housing developments, county jails, public transport operators, nursing homes, healthcare facilities, essential workers, small businesses, food banks and indigenous communities.

With a grant of $100,000 from the Curci Foundation, Abrar and Yvonne quickly mobilized their team involving 11 labs at U.C. Berkeley, 100 active student volunteers and over 200 organizations around the San Francisco Bay area and elsewhere in order to provide the Four Corners Navajo reservation with badly-needed hand sanitizer. The reservation, which is notoriously short of water for washing hands and is experiencing unprecedented rates of infection, was in dire need of assistance in its fight against COVID-19.

The funding from the Curci Foundation will allow the team’s very efficient and lean organization to continue providing not only FDA-approved hand sanitizer solutions, but also home-made high-quality face masks and disinfectant wipes to a diversity of community organizations for 6-9 months, as the pandemic continues to spread.