By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Biotech Business Week -- Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low-income students, announced a $250,000 grant from the Biogen Idec Foundation to help fund Citizen Schools' innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) apprenticeship programs in Massachusetts and North Carolina. Biogen Idec Foundation's commitment of talent and financial support will help Citizen Schools deepen its impact on student learning and engagement at its locations in Boston, Chelsea, Mass., and Durham, N.C (see also Pharmaceutical Companies).
Citizen Schools partners with middle schools nationally to expand the school day for children in underserved communities through academic mentoring and skill-building apprenticeships. The hands-on projects foster authentic learning experiences and are taught by volunteer professionals, or Citizen Teachers, who share their expertise and passions in engaging ways.
"Our apprenticeships bring relevance and a unique hands-on learning opportunity to the school day for students, sparking new potential career interests and increasing their engagement," said Pat Kirby, Vice President and Executive Director of Citizen Schools Massachusetts. "We are incredibly grateful for the Biogen Idec Foundation's leadership support. The investment will help Citizen Schools increase the number of students that can access these exciting, real-world STEM opportunities with biologists, computer programmers, financial analysts, and more."
"One of our goals is to give back to the communities where we work while supporting effective STEM education programs globally. This program with Citizen Schools provides us with an opportunity to inspire and prepare students for successful STEM careers-aligning with our focus of making science exciting and accessible," said Tony Kingsley, Chairman, Biogen Idec Foundation. "There's simply no better way to engage our next generation of STEM leaders than through hands-on learning experiments that show them what's possible."
The Biogen Idec Foundation supports Citizen Schools' apprenticeships in Massachusetts through a 10-week course at the Biogen Idec Community Lab. The 90-minute per week course has helped Boston students transform into junior scientists. Suited in lab coats, the students conduct experiments using the same state-of-the-art equipment and tools that Biogen Idec scientists utilize to discover and create new medicine. The apprenticeship program is helping to ensure a more diverse 21st century workforce skilled in the STEM job sectors, which are prevalent industries in both Boston and Durham.