Stories and Responses to COVID-19

As President Paxson stated in early March 2019, “At this moment, community is everything. With most on-campus students heading home, events and gatherings being canceled, and many daily interactions moving online, maintaining a sense of who we are as a community at Brown is more important than ever.” And we are already doing just that.

Tune in every Sunday for our weekly update (sign up here), which will continue to feature opportunities for virtual office hours and virtual event updates, deadline reminders, funding opportunities and student, alumni, and faculty stories. We are also asking for your help! We want to learn about your creative ideas, your startups, your solutions on how we can stay connected. We will use Brown EP’s (our student club) inspiring hashtag #MakeItHappen, and we encourage you to use it as well.

Fill out this short form and we will do our best to share via our various communication platformsIf you haven’t already, follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to receive further updates and continue to engage with the Nelson Center. We will also currate responses below:

After Brown students returned home in March due to COVID-19 concerns, Chuck Isgar ‘21, Megan Kasselberg ‘20 and David Lu ‘20 came together to launch Intern From Home. These students recognized that early-stage startups might be restricted in hiring or having difficulty completing projects. This new program connects students to virtual internships. Learn more about this new program and how to get involved here.

Samanee Mahbub ’19, a former NCE Peer Entrepreneur-in-Residence, is hosting a webinar with our Mentoring Maven, Deb Mills-Scofield ’82 on Tuesday, March 24, 12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT). The focus of the session will be on job hunting in the coronavirus era. Click here to sign up for the zoom call!

Stuck at home with too much time? Want to learn new skills with no costs? Sign up with Time Spent, a social good venture that connects people who want to share their knowledge and time with no money involved. In the past, people have exchanged French conversation practice, singing lessons, fitness training, knitting lessons and much more! Because of the COVD-19 situation, new “transactions” will be held over Zoom. The time-commitment is however little or much as you want! Community is a large part of the mission and there will be monthly meet-ups over Zoom. Click here to join the movement!

Tom Scott ’89, co-founder of Nantucket Nectars, started the nantucket project, which help connect curious people to share meaning and impact lives, whether it is through their annual gathering, and now, their vitrual communities. Read a note from Tom to learn about their recent projects and offerings in response to COVID-19.

Join Jeremy Joachim ’17 ( for a webinar fon how to find jobs in the creative tech and design space Friday, March 27, 2020 at 3pm EDT (it will also be recorded). Jeremy’s career has been full of great surprises and great impact. Go to to sign up and add any questions you may want to ask during his talk!

Jayna Zweiman ‘01, co-founder of the Pussyhat Project and the Welcome Blanket, is on to her next creative venture. Masks for Humanity is the hub that connects people who need handmade face masks with people who can make handmade face masks. ⁠Everyone can participate. If you are a FRONTLINER (healthcare or other essential worker), a MAKER, a MAKER-GROUP already organizing, or a fantastic CONNECTOR (you know anyone who needs masks or sews masks), this is the place for you. ⁠Follow @masks4humanity, share with your crafting guilds, tag your handmade mask making with #masks4humanity and call people on social channels to share the website, ⁠#MakeitHappen with Jayna at

Although the annual A Day on College Hill (ADOCH) could not go on as planned in-person, the Office of Admissions quickly adopted an online platform (WISR) to help connect accepted students to the breadth of resources on campus. The Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship partnered with the Office of Admissions to record a panel of students, featuring Chuck Isgar ’21, Evan Jackson ’21, Abigail Kohler ’20, David Lu ’20, and Francesca Raoelison ’22, who are actively involved in our programs, courses, and venture support resources. We encourage not only accepted students, but everyone in our Nelson community to tune in and learn more about their academic paths and the ventures and startups that they have been involved in during their time at Brown.

The Brown Arts Initiative and the Nelson Center partnered to launch the Pop-Up Challenge on April 3-4 for Brown students to come together, brainstorm, and design solutions to a COVID-19 related challenge. The prompt was announced on April 3: “How can we design better cues and solutions for social distancing? What systems, practices, objects, and inventions can we use to stay six-feet apart? How can we be both safe and creative?” Learn more about the challenge and submissions through our news post. Check back here for future Pop-Up Challenges!

With worrisome shortages of medical supplies, businesses around the country are manufacturing things they wouldn’t normally be making — everything from face masks to hand sanitizer. Among them is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware. The workers there are more accustomed to brewing I.P.A.s, but in this video, Sam Calagione, co-founder of the company along with Maria Calagione ‘93, shows how they’re now bottling growlers of hand sanitizer to help their community. He has a few tips for other businesses who are looking for a way to pitch in.

Covaid is a mutual aid platform that enables local community volunteers to assist nearby elderly/immunocompromised groups with tasks such as grocery delivery, medication pickup, and virtual emotional support. The website’s aid platform is managed by Debanik Purkayastha (Johns Hopkins ‘20) and Jeff Li (Carnegie Mellon ‘20), while the site’s helpful resources are being redesigned by Brown students Trisha Ballakur ‘22, Jeremy Banuelos ‘22 and Isabel Lai ‘22. To support, you can register as a volunteer by going to the top right of the web page and selecting “Volunteer Registration.” If students would like to get involved in building the platform, please email

Introducing the Social Distance Kit About a month ago we heard that students in the ENGN 0930C Design Studio course were exploring ways to provide subtle cues for better social distancing practices. One idea they devised was a set of clips that could easily be applied to facemasks to signal risk level, and they included this as part of a general social distancing kit for their final project. Now the social distancing kit is here! Designed by Grace Zhao ‘23, Caroline David ‘23, Emily Esposito ‘20, Graham Keeley ‘21, and Laura Wilson ‘21, it contains a variety of useful supplies people will need to navigate a prolonged shutdown and help them transition in and out of social distancing. The students received a Nelson Center Explore Grant to work on the project and you can click here to learn more and see what is included in it.

Designing BrunO2 for the ventilator shortage A team of engineering faculty, students, alumni and other collaborators is designing prototypes for low-cost ventilators with a device constructed of 3D printed and off-the-shelf components specifically designed for the COVID-19 crisis. Our very own Peer Entrepreneur In Residence, Roja Garimella ’17 MD ’21 is a part of this medical team. The team launched this website for continued updates and giving opportunities. Read more about the project and how it was started.

Justin Kim ‘21 and Matthew Lee ’22,  address healthcare worker trauma during the pandemic Cress Health is an early-stage Brown startup tackling a current problem in the COVID-19 pandemic: healthcare worker trauma. As we navigate these challenging times, burnout and distress amongst clinical professionals and others at the front lines of this crisis are reaching an all-time high. The Cress™ app provides data-driven self-care tools and a confidential peer support platform to our healers as well as others in need of mental wellness. In order to help as many people as possible, the co-founders are looking for motivated students of all backgrounds and experiences to join the rapidly-growing team. Interested in getting involved? email

Give a gift card to someone in need Khalil Fuller ’11 recently founded Gift Card Bank. As people across the country are being hit hard by COVID-19, and local economies grind to a halt, Khalil is trying to help those most in need. Every year $3 Billion of unspent gift cards go to waste. Gift Card Bank is on a mission to change that by encouraging people to donate the gift cards that they have lying around unused and make sure those gift cards get into the hands of the families who have been most affected by the Coronavirus crisis. You can get involved here

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Max Goldman ‘21, a member of the Brown EP student club, has joined a handful of college students from across the country to create FarmLink, a nonprofit initiative that redirects surplus food from farms to food banks experiencing unprecedented demand. Through donations, the team is helping  pay the wages of farm workers and truckers that we all depend on to reroute deliveries to food distribution partners. FarmLink has moved over 50,000 pounds of food and provided over $2,400 of wages for truck drivers and produce farmers. Through their platform they will be able to keep more fresh produce away from dumps, and put more food onto the tables of those who need it most. If you would like to support the initiative in other ways or are interested in joining the team, email Max Goldman at

Brown Students featured in the Global Grad Show’s COVID-19 design challenge initiative Brown students Dana Kurniawan ‘22 and Madison Frye ‘22, as well as fellow students from Rochester Institute of Technology and California Polytechnic State University, were recently featured in the Global Grad Show’s latest design challenge. Their submission, We Clean, is an app that uses Augmented Reality in a series of everyday scenarios to encourage hand-washing, surface disinfection, and social distancing, through fun and interactive ways.

Brown students Jack Schaeffer ‘22 and Eliza Sternlicht ‘22, helped co-found MediCircle, a venture that improves access to healthcare by redistributing the more than $5 billion worth of unused, unopened, and unexpired pharmaceuticals wasted annually. By collecting medications that would otherwise be discarded from long term care facilities and redistributing them to safety net hospitals, MediCircle provides free medicine to those who need it. If you are interested in learning more or supporting this cause, email or

COVID-19 NCE Updates

Brown University has taken precautionary measures as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including transitioning to online classes and canceling events, among other measures. The latest and most comprehensive information can be found at the following link:

Here at the Nelson Center, we are taking the following measures:

1. All events and meetings are being held virtually, postponed or have been canceled for the spring 2020 semester.

2. Access to the building will be limited to staff starting March 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm until further notice.

3. Nelson Center staff and affiliated mentors will continue to hold regular or scheduled office hours via Zoom and are still available via email, phone, and Slack. If you would like to join the Nelson Center Slack, email

If you haven’t already, we recommend signing up for our email newsletter, and following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to receive further updates. As we move more towards digital communication, our social media accounts will continue to be a way to engage with the Nelson Center.  

We appreciate your flexibility with this situation and take good care of yourselves!


The Nelson Center Team