COG Receives National Award for “Masks for Class Project” Project


PRESS RELEASE: November 8, 2021                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

MEDIA CONTACT: Brandy Del Rio  (803-774-1996)



COG Receives National Award for “Masks for Class Project” Project

Santee-Lynches Regional COG received a 2021 Aliceann Wohlbruck Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for a regional project named “Masks for Class”.


SUMTER, SC – The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) awarded Santee-Lynches Council of Governments a national award for their “Masks for Class” Project at the 2021 Annual Training Conference.  Santee-Lynches Council of Governments stepped outside of the realm of operations for an entity such as Council of Governments to take on the task of protecting our communities from infectious disease.

It was a great task set forth by the Council of Governments to create an exciting and interactive campaign that would motivate the area it services to become excited about wearing masks. The year of 2020 created a huge barrier for students in local schools because of the emergence of the COVID-19 virus. A goal was set forth by local school districts to have in-person classes for the upcoming school year of 2021 to 2022. Because in person learning is so vital to students to retain information and be active in their classes, a need for masks resurfaced. Many students were handicapped regarding their schooling because of lack of in-person learning. It has been proven that students excel when they are in class in front of instructors. As students are increasingly more involved with social media, the idea emerged of a social media campaign in which students would use hashtags and photos in an effort to reach citizens that are constantly plugged in and aware. Everyone has a cell phone, especially the younger generation.

The campaign was a friendly competition across 4 counties, which provided positive support for schools as they prepared to reopen during the pandemic and provided critical PPE to the school districts as they reopened. Santee-Lynches developed the concept and coordinated across 6 school districts to run a social media campaign asking people to take a picture of themselves wearing a mask and social distancing on a specific day and post it to social media in show of support for their school district. This occurred during a spike in positive cases of COVID-19 across the state. The initiative showed strong support of the children who attend our schools as well as showing support for the teachers who teach in those school districts. The COG is aware of how monumental a task this could be in the middle of a pandemic. The point was to create a safe space in our schools and to indirectly encourage the use of masks and social distancing.

For everyone picture taken by an individual wearing a mask and social distancing, each school district would receive 10 masks. Each school district would receive 1000 face shields for participating. The district with the most photos posted would also receive a free ultraviolet light cleaning system from USUV Clean for one school.

The Campaign reached over 20K people via social media as people commented across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in support of their schools.  1,135 people participated in the challenge across our rural region.  The winner was announced over Facebook Live that received over 4.6K views.  Santee-Lynches COG also partnered with a supplier and provided 13,350 masks, 6,000 face shields and the sterilization of an early childhood center.  The combined total of the donation (investment into schools) was $75,170 ($12,830 in PPE supplies and $62,340 for the sterilization). As a result of the tremendous effort in public support, Santee-Lynches received a NADO award. This is significant in that this is a national award in recognition of an initiative that impacts the community.


About National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)

NADO is a national network of 540 multi-jurisdictional regional planning and development organizations.  The 2021 class of award-winning projects were recognized during NADO’s 2021 Annual Training Conference, held October 16-19.  The 2021 class of award recipients consists of 102 projects from 70 organizations spanning 24 states.


 The Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Awards program is an opportunity each year for NADO to publicly recognize the great work regional development organizations deliver to their local communities. 


About Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments

Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments is a premier organization committed to optimizing our region’s unique strengths for a better tomorrow. Our mission is to deliberately enhance the quality of life and provide opportunities for the advancement of our region.  Santee-Lynches serves the counties and cities of Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Sumter. To learn more, visit

Santee-Lynches COG is a member of the South Carolina Councils of Government (SC COGs). The SC COGs are a network of the 10 regional councils of governments working to positively affect quality of life and economic development in South Carolina. SC COGs serve as an extension of local and county governments to provide technical assistance, secure state, and federal dollars to address critical issues, and advocate at a state and national level for economic and quality of life improvements for South Carolina. To learn more, visit or visit